You know ‘being green’ is in, but more than that, it’s here to stay. We only have one earth, and more and more, environmentally-conscious people are banding together to make sure we protect our home and planet as much as possible. This means realizing that even though world travel and tourism are pretty much the most incredible spice of life, there are sometimes harmful side effects on the local eco- system. That’s not to say tourism is all bad news for rural communities where resorts set up shop. There are often myriad economic benefits. Eco-tourism is about giving travelers the ability to experience the excitement and relaxation of long distance travel, while minimizing the harmful environmental impact.
What is Eco-Travel?
The International Ecotourism Society lists its definition of eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” This means striving to support local communities when you visit; respecting indigenous cultures, minimizing environmental impact (like frequenting resorts that use water recycling systems to wash their hotel bedding, etc.), and generally trying to provide a positive economic benefit, while leaving as little trace as possible. Sounds great, right? But are you wondering how you apply these ideals?
Be a Gold Star Eco-Tourist
Here are our top five quick and dirty tips on traveling around the world without leaving your conscious behind:
1. You only have so much control over a resort vacation, but you do have control over which resorts you choose to support! Pick a spot that has made a commitment to strive for responsible environmental practices.
2. Pack light! Plane travel is often necessary, but you can minimize the amount of gas wasted by heavy bags and over-packing.
3. Choose public transportation, biking, or walking over private cabs in transit, and when you reach your destination.
4. Buy local! It’s tempting to hit up that comforting chain coffee house for your regular iced latte when traveling, or even to buy arts and crafts from touristy gift shops. But it helps the community much more if you go to resident-owned establishments.
5. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill throughout the day (as long as the water is ok to drink), so you won’t be leaving a trail of plastic trash behind you throughout the trip.