Sustainable travel is all about being environmentally as well as culturally friendly. The actions we take to live green in our homes and local communities should be the same ones we apply when roaming around new places.
Melissa Kendrick of the Foundation for Sustainable Travel provided a few tips to help us all become more environmentally and culturally friendly as we vacation this summer – whether in state or overseas.
Sustainable tips to keep in mind:
1. Choose locally owned and operated lodges. Make your travels an opportunity to support the local economy and empower small businesses. Chances are when you patronize a locally owned hotel, they most likely support other local businesses in the area, too. So when you sit down for breakfast, the eggs you eat may be from the chicken farmer down the road and your fruit from the cute farmer’s market you passed on your way to the hotel!
2. Be sure to ask about a lodge or hotel’s environmental practices. There are countless ways for hotels to protect the environment and still provide a great stay for their guests. Ask the hotel about their lighting, cleaning products, water conservation, recycling receptacles, and more. A green hotel will have a plan in place to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Check out www.ecorooms.com to learn about other criteria you should consider.
3. Pay a fair price for souvenirs. When dealing with local merchants whether near or far, it is most likely that their wares are hand-made, one of a kind, and produced with much more care than what you can get from large conglomerates. Be respectful of their effort and dedication to their craft and pay what is fair and reasonable.
4. Respect the natural environment. Don’t leave your surroundings in worse shape than you found them. Fight the urge to intrude upon local animals and try to leave those plants and other wildlife you’re tempted to take home as they are. And of course, never leave trash or remnants of your stay behind. A good rule of thumb is to “take only pictures, leave only footsteps.”
5. Learn about current environmental issues in the places you are visiting. Different regions will have different situations based on their ecosystems. Learn about the effects of mass tourism on beaches, mountains, wetlands, deserts, etc. and then seek to counter those effects.
6. Choose your recreational activities wisely. Low impact sports that don’t involve a lot of equipment or fossil fuels and that don’t disturb the environment or local communities are preferable. So try paddling in a canoe rather than setting out on a gas fueled jet ski.
If you need more help planning a sustainable trip, connect with a travel agent who specializes in eco-friendly excursions. Check out our Green Guide to find one locally.
Written By Allison Bennett