One of the main aspects of responsible tourism is travelling in such a way that has little impact on our environment. This concept is called sustainable travel.
Tourism is such a large industry that has the potential to threaten our natural environments if not controlled. Issues such as depletion of natural resources, pollution, and deforestation are some of the negative impacts that tourism can have on our environment.
It is for this reason that sustainable tourism has become the focus of many tourism organisations around the world, including the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), who has deemed 2017 the Year Of Sustainable Tourism For Development. With some of the key focus points being resource efficiency, environmental protection, and climate change, among others.
Throughout this blog, I talk about ways we can lessen our impact on the environment when travelling, through methods such as reduced (or even better refrained) use of plastic, awareness about our environmental impact, choice of transportation, educating others about environmental sustainability and many more.
Throughout my travels in Asia, I have witnessed a huge plastic problem. Lack of recycling facilities and lack of awareness leads people to believe that plastic is as disposable as food scraps. The locals don’t know that it will be sitting in that pile of rubbish for the next 200 years.
Our role as travellers is to firstly ensure that we don’t fuel the issue by using plastic wherever we go, and secondly be an example and educate the locals on the issue. Support local campaigns and initiatives that are helping to keep clean the country you are visiting.
I can proudly say that during a 2-month journey through Nepal I did not use 1 plastic bottle. Instead, I would refill my reusable travel bottle wherever I went.
The RefillMyBottle map shows you nearby locations where you can refill your water bottle for free or a minimum fee. Watch the video about this refillution below –
Some countries make it harder to do this than others but times are changing (You could also direct the hotel or restaurant you are visiting to RefillMyBottle). Read this inspirational story about how one campaign is preventing millions of plastic bottles from entering Cambodia’s landfills.
One other way that you can make your travels sustainable is by choosing to stay in eco-conscious accommodation. The hospitality industry is one of the highest energy-consuming industries in the world. Initiatives such as saving water, reducing electricity usage or movements to sustainable power e.g. solar can significantly reduce the environmental impact of hotels or guesthouses. Coral Road and Book Different are both platforms that offer large databases of eco-friendly accommodation. Choose wisely.