Did you know that the travel industry is the fastest growing industry in the world? According to the Travel Weekly there were over 25 million international arrivals in 1950, over 760 million in 2004, over 903 million in 2007 and the numbers are expected to rise to 1.6 billion in 2020.
Each trip we make has an impact on the environment. Since the 1980s, eco-travelling has been considered a critical endeavour by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations untouched by human intervention.
Whether you are travelling to a conference, important meeting, island retreat or an amusement park, there are ways to stay conscious of your impact on the environment. How can we plan a trip which is eco-friendly? No worries if you have no idea where to start. From packing light to eating as the locals do, we have a few eco-friendly tips that will make your travel experience interesting.
1. Pack light
Packing light can help in many ways. Indirectly, fuel costs are lowered on airplanes, cars, buses or any form of transportation you use. The more weight a vehicle carries, the higher the level of fuel it consumes and as a result efficiency goes down. Be very selective with your clothes, pick the ones that you can mix and match to make interesting outfits and keep up with your own style.
2. Buy and eat local
We all love eating good food and exploring interesting cuisines from all over the world. Eating local food not only introduces you to just the cuisine but also the culture. It helps you blend in with the locals more easily and in rural areas it also boosts the economy of the locality.
Go to a farmer’s market or a street stall to have the freshest, locally grown and sourced food.
Other than food, local goods are also one more thing you can look out for. As you travel from place to place, items that are handmade by local artisans can be a very unique and thoughtful gift for your loved ones back home.
Buying local products help to reduce the effects of harmful greenhouse gases as mass-produced “souvenirs” are shipped internationally from industrial countries.
3. Explore naturally
We do not just travel to a place to book an expensive hotel and stay there all day do we? The reason most of us travel is to explore what we have not seen before.
Why not get to know other tourists, exchange experiences and maybe hire a vehicle together? Doing this not only helps you save money, but it also reduces the amount of fuel to be used per person.
For shorter distances, or if you are simply moving around within a city or town, you can go on foot or take public transport so you get a taste of the everyday life of the locals. Using public transport is also less stressful than driving in an unfamiliar place and will put you in closer contact with the scenery and locals.
Even if you have to rent a car for your trip or a part of it, go for a smaller one or rent a hybrid. Large cars consume enormous amount of fuel, so you will again get to save money and help the environment.
4. Be a good guest
We suggest you treat the place you travel to like your own home by switching off lights or any other appliances when not in use, even in hotels. Don’t let the tap run endlessly, and do not litter.
You can also choose eco-friendly lodging and accommodations that adhere to eco-friendly policies. If you like adventure and you are willing to part with the comfort, you can also try out eco-friendly camping.
Sleeping under the stars and wandering through the forests can help us appreciate Mother nature even more, and see why it is important to respect and protect the environment. Apart from this, it’s also pretty darn fun!
5. Treat your water
Buying bottled water when you travel can lead to a pile of plastic trash which gradually accumulates. Plastic in general is extremely difficult to dispose of. Not to mention the fact that packed bottled water is not anymore better for you.
Treating your own water while on the road is easier than you think. Just bring along a reusable water bottle, purifier (such as STERPEN) filter or iodine tablets. You will be safe from water-borne illnesses and will be keeping plastic bottles out of landfills all over the world.
6. Other important tips
If you plan on using batteries, avoid using the disposable ones as they are noxious and leech toxic chemicals into the earth. You can also carry an eco-friendly soap which can be used for multiple tasks such as washing hands, face, bathing.
Lend a helping hand and lessen your impact as a tourist by giving back to the people and nature while you enjoy your stay.
Article contributed by Rohit Agarwal