7 Eye-opening And Simple Ways To Sustainable Traveling
- Responsible Travel
Sustainable travel has many benefits for us, for the places we visit and for the environment.
Beside what you might think, in fact, sustainability is something simple.
A sunrise over the sea, a typical recipe, a centuries-old tradition, an animal I had never seen before, the smile of a stranger, a gesture.
I’ll be honest: traveling and living unique experiences without causing damage and suffering to myself, the planet, animals or other people makes me feel deeply good.
” Sustainable tourism is a travel style based on empathy, respect and wonder.”
In the end, it’s all about awareness. That’s why I decided to be a responsible traveler and share this passion with you.
Responsible and sustainable traveling: Meaning
The first step is to understand what sustainable traveling and tourism mean. Here we need some definitions.
This will be very useful for you because among the most disparate information, you will easily understand which is real news and which is just hoaxes to sell, and you’ll save time and (maybe) even some money.
The first and official definitions come from the World Organization of Tourism (UNWTO).
Sustainable tourism is a form of travel that:
- meets the needs of the traveler
- brings benefit to the destination, increasing opportunities for its future development.
But there are many others
“ Sustainable tourism is a new way of traveling for those who want to respect the environment, natural elements and local communities”
“Sustainable tourism is what maintains the cultural integrity , local ecological processes, the biological diversity, the local life systems”
“Sustainable tourism is what takes action in harmony with the environment, the community and local traditions, so that these are the beneficiaries and not the victims of tourism development”.
3 constant concepts emerge in these definitions:Economy, Ethics, Environment. Let’s dive a little deeper.
The Values Behind a sustainable travel
Every journey brings some kind of change, however small or imperceptible it may be. Growth, experience, emotion.
In addition to economy, environment and ethics, in my opinion sustainable travels have three key values that distinguish them:
These represent the pillars of sustainable traveling, and the first and essential basis without which we cannot talk about sustainability.
In simple words, the ability to comprehend what’s different ,enthusiasm and respect for life and new things, and an open mind to feel emotions.
Unfortunately, current trends show a situation that is still too unbalanced towards profit and comfort, and this often has dramatic consequences. But each of us in our own small way can contribute to reducing this trend.
Ecotourism, in this sense, is a very powerful tool. Ethical contact with nature allows us to rediscover that sense of connection that is being lost in urban centers and pushes us to unconsciously cultivate empathy, respect and wonder for it and its creatures, including man.
Overtourism : trend and consequences
I want to make a clarification.
The concept of sustainable traveling arises because its opposite exists.
Today tourism is among the main economic activities in the world and provides many jobs. However, as the Journal Nature Climate Change says, the tourism industry is one of the most polluting. Not only that: after the food industry, it is also one of the less ethical towards animals and people as well.
So your trip can on the one hand contribute to the development of the country, and on the other become the cause of the loss of local identities and environmental degradation.
A clear example is the phenomenon of Overtourism (or mass tourism).
“Impact of tourism on a destination, or parts of it, which excessively and negatively influences the perceived quality of life of citizens and/or the quality of visitor experiences”. (UNWTO)
And I would add exploitation of many animals and also local inhabitants.
But there are many others: exaggerated consumption while traveling (more waste, less attention, more pollution), the economy of large chains and multinationals, the search for convenience at the expense of authenticity and environmental protection.
“Knowing is the first step to change.”
Carrying Capacity Assessment.
This value represents the maximum capacity of naturalistic or cultural heritage areas so that tourism is not harmful.
In fact, each locality is able to host only a limited number of people in a productive and constructive way, both on an environmental and social level.
It is therefore essential not to follow the crowd, try to differentiate yourself and organize sustainable trips, because trendy travels almost always turn out to be banal, stereotyped and absolutely unethical.
Ok, now let’s get to practice!
7 ways to sustainable traveling
#1 Choose Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Food
Let’s not hide behind excuses.
Today there are foods for all tastes, habits, needs and cravings.
For this reason, one of the simplest things you can do is choosing restaurants and markets that offer local and seasonal food. Opt for dishes made with fresh and nutritious ingredients, and you will have already contributed to reducing the ecological footprint linked to the entire food chain, from greenhouse production to the conservation and transport of food to the other side of the world.
If you also want to take a step further and avoid supporting (and maintaining) the food industry’s cruelty towards animals, choose plant-based foods and try vegetarian or vegan restaurants and alternatives: they will surprise you!
Do you want to know more about the plant-based diet in a clear, transparent and scientific way? I recommend you take a look at this free program that changed my life for the better.
#2 Zero Waste Travel Kit
Create an eco-sustainable travel kit. In this case the key words are reusable, compostable and washable.
You can range based on habits and needs and include reusable crockery, cutlery, a water bottle, a travel glass, washable straws and a reusable bag. You can also create a self care beauty case that respects the environment and nature, including bamboo toothbrushes, solid toothpaste, washable sanitary pads for women, etc.
The type of kit can change depending on the destination and situations, but the two I mentioned are the most common and always necessary.
Reducing the production of waste and new products during travel (but also in everyday life) is an effective way to have a smaller impact and contribute to sustainability.
#3 Choose Eco-Friendly AccommodationS
Many facilities today offer eco-friendly options, such as energy management systems and advanced recycling programs. Choose accommodation facilities with REAL environmental certifications and sustainable policies and REAL commitment.
It is not always possible to be certain, but often by taking a look at the presentation photos you can see signs and details that indicate how much a structure is really interested in environmental and wildlife conservation. Trivial examples are the use of plastic bin bags, rather than washing clothes daily, and so on.
When I worked for a luxury hotel on the tropical East Coast of Australia, every day I saw practices harmful to the environment, which could easily have been avoided and replaced. A traveler’s awareness is a truly powerful tool in this area and should be used to spread a message of respect and attention towards the planet.
So try to choose structures that have obtained environmental certifications or that demonstrate a tangible commitment to sustainability even in small things. You will help promote eco-friendly practices and change the tourism sector for the better!
#4 Explore Unknown Destinations
Avoid crowded and touristic destinations and choose lesser-known destinations. This will not only reduce the pressure on the most popular locations, but will allow you to discover authentic, under-exploited places..
An example? If you are thinking of visiting Bali, I recommend you consider two nearby islands instead: Nusa Penida e Lombok (without forgetting the stunning Gili Islands). You will be amazed by the beauty of these slightly less touristy places!
#5 Support the Local Economy
Shop from small shops and local artisans, supporting the local economy rather than international chains. This helps preserve the authentic culture of the destination and ensures profits stay in local communities.
This also applies to the choice of souvenirs.
Avoid souvenirs made from unsustainable or environmentally harmful materials (no shells, sand, leaves, living animals, corals, etc.). Look for local handcrafted products, preferably made from recycled or sustainable materials. Another idea that I really like is to support environmental and animal conservation associations, choosing souvenirs and souvenirs proposed and made by them, the profits of which directly support the activity they carry out.
#6 Environmental Volunteering
Dedicating part of your time to local volunteer initiatives could prove to be a winning move and change the fate of your trip. Meanwhile, you can choose to be involved in reforestation projects, cleaning up parks or beaches or assisting in communities and wildlife recovery sanctuaries. Often you also have the opportunity to “exchange” your volunteer service for a place to sleep and stay for free, which makes your trip a unique and absolutely low-cost experience.
All these actions can contribute to the conservation of the environment and local fauna and flora, but also directly help the local inhabitants.
#7 Experience Agricultural Tourism
With the busy lifestyle we have today, reconnecting with nature also means rediscovering the connection with food and what the earth offers us. For this reason, an alternative and original idea is to choose stays on local farms or agricultural communities, to live an authentic experience, learn new things and know more about sustainable agricultural practices while enjoying local products directly from the Earth.
I clearly remember the first time I tasted a mango.
I was at home, in Turin, in spring and that colorful exotic fruit inspired me a lot. Once opened and eaten, I was so disappointed by the pungent and anonymous taste. Years later I found myself in Australia, on a campsite in the middle of a tropical area, with the van parked under a spontaneous mango tree. I wanted to give it a second chance and it was worth it: very sweet, soft, that mango didn’t resemble the one I tasted years before. It was genuine, natural and in its habitat. A delicacy that is one of my favorite fruits today! The lesson? Never underestimate the power of natural food.
- Authentic Experiences, Sustainability, Travel responsibly
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