With global warming being a reality and the need for environmental conservation becoming imminent, you may wonder how best to satiate your wanderlust without causing any damage to Mother Nature. Tourists often reap the benefits of nature’s many splendours and should take great care to responsibly enjoy the great outdoors. Their desire to have moments of peace during travel and to escape the hustle and bustle of daily urban life, should not come at the cost of environmental degradation.
Conscientious tour operators and travel agents have now begun to offer eco-friendly vacations for travellers that ensure responsible tourism, with a minimal carbon footprint, coupled with sustainable development practices which help local communities. These are an incredible opportunity for those infected by the travel bug to see the beauty of nature without it weighing heavily on their conscience. For many urban children, such eco-friendly tours might be their first real unfiltered experience of nature, and ensuring this happens in an environmentally conscious way will engender a sense of respect for their planet.
These tips below will help you be responsible travellers while you enjoy your vacation in an eco-friendly manner:
Choose green transport
Wherever possible, take trains or buses to travel, especially for short-distance trips. If you have to fly, choose an airline that is fuel-efficient. At your choice of destination, get around with the help of public transport or share your rides. Most importantly, don't forget your feet! Look at ways to reduce carbon footprint and check if your hotel offers shuttle services. Many tourist destinations will have bicycles available, and both adults and children can have a great time making it an interesting and less polluting trip.
Avoid plastic containers and bags
Plastic is not biodegradable and plastic waste can be disastrous for delicate ecologies, especially since looking for dustbins on your vacation isn’t fun. Avoid buying bottled water and carry your own bottle wherever possible.Bring your own food items such as sandwiches or other snacks to munch on, so you don’t have to buy food wrapped or packaged in plastic. Teach your children about the harmful effects of plastic and the need for conservation.
Reduce and reuse
While a picnic might seem like a good idea, leaving food or disposable plates and spoons lying around is bad for the environment and rather impolite. Avoid wasting food, carry your own plates, glasses and spoons that can be reused instead of relying on plastic containers or paper plates.If staying at a hotel, ask them to provide you with the essential reusable crockery. While heading out to shop in a market, buy or get a reusable shopping bag to carry your loot.
Limit energy use
Hotels tend to consume a lot of electricity to ensure their smooth functioning. Just because you have paid for your room, do not misuse electricity or waste water. Minimise the use of the AC by using the timer facility, and don’t forget to turn off all lights and taps when you leave. Also, unplug all of your appliances and chargers while away from the room, because it wastes energy and is a fire hazard. Children learn important lessons in global warming, when they actively do these small but important things.
Choose stays that promote eco-friendly methods
Look for lodging that has effective waste treatment systems, is energy efficient and promotes the use of solar energy or hydroelectric power. If you are heading to a hill station located at a high altitude, then look for accommodations that do not have air-conditioning. Do your research so that you don’t end up staying somewhere that pollutes the environment or does not have eco-friendly policies. If your hotel doesn't recycle, carry empty bottles or other plastic items out when you checkout.
Buy local and eat local
You can contribute to the local economy by buying from local artisans. Try and dine at restaurants with locally sourced ingredients or shop fresh produce from local markets instead of heading to malls. If you’re keen to buy a souvenir or take back memories from your holiday, buy local products and make sure they do not endanger local animals or plants.
Respect the local environment
Wherever you go, act as a responsible human being. Ensure that you don’t litter or leave plastics behind and teach children to do the same. Be conscious of what you might be doing in particularly sensitive places like protected forests or habitats for endangered flora and fauna. It is essential to remember that while you are just visiting this destination, other people call this beautiful place home and deserve to have it the way they want to. At the end of the trip, you should have added to and not taken away from your destination.
The author is co-founder and CEO at Toehold.
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