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Eco-Tourism, the Sustainable Way to Travel in 2018

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The world of tomorrow can only be guaranteed if we live responsibly today. From the environment to manufacturing everything is going to conservation. Eco-friendly tourism, sustainable tourism, green travel, the list of buzz phrases I’ve developed to describe a more responsible, more attentive way of experiencing the world is pretty lengthy. All of these have become hugely popular and hotly debated. The impact travelers have on the environment, cultures and wildlife are issues that have come to the forefront of people’s’ minds as they choose how and where to travel. Thou there are differing views on what these words mean, how they should be implemented and what it really means to ‘travel responsibly’. It can be expensive, time-consuming, confusing and frustrating to sort through and choose an option that feels right and many times people just avoid it altogether.

While we don’t have all the answers and certainly muddle our own way through our efforts to travel with the most positive impact possible, I’ve come up with a few things that every traveller can do to make a difference while they travel. These ideas can be easily incorporated, are inexpensive and only really require a little extra effort and some thought.

What would happen if we all just did away with straws? Next time you go to a restaurant while travelling, or at home, make sure to ask for your water or drinks without a straw. This is the hardest thing to remember as that initial interaction tends to happen fast or, if you do remember, you inevitably brought one already opened anyway. Not only that if you stop at a fast food restaurant, take your drink without a lid and drink from the cup. Wherever you find a straw imposed upon you, find a way to prevent it from happening the next time.

If you’re inclined to fork over a bit of dough to help the cause, buying and bringing a tumbler or water bottle whenever you travel can make a huge impact. In certain countries where clean water is hard to find, this may get a bit tricky. My advice is to find out how the locals source clean water. For example, in Thailand, there are larger bottles that are refilled regularly with drinkable water. We used these extensively while there and it cut down not only on waste, but also cost of water. If you’re travelling light, or are concerned about the weight and size of a bottle, you can always go with the collapsible kind i.e. Silicone Water Bottles, which work great even when you’re at home and going out for the day.

We all love going to a beautiful beach so seeing trash along the shoreline or in the sand is not only an eyesore, but also frustrating. We’ll trudge our way through the sand, carrying our towels, chairs and coolers and grumble under our breaths about how inconsiderate people are as we nudge discarded pieces of trash to the side. Not only are these items blights on a beautiful sandy landscape, they are also incredible harmful for wildlife. Garbage can be mistaken for food and can be especially harmful to sea turtles who nest on beaches and their offspring who are born there.

Bring a bag with you when you go to a beach or a park or other outdoor destination where litter is often seen. All you need to do is pick up the garbage from your car or to where you choose to sit and back again.  If everyone were to do that, think of how garbage-free and wildlife-friendly beaches and other outdoor areas would be. Of course, spreading the word and recommending this to others increases the amount of garbage pick-up that will go on, the number of beautiful outdoor spaces that are clean and the amount of wildlife saved.

Another way to Instead, visitors are encouraged to take a photo of the main map and use it to navigate. At the start of each of the larger exhibit entrances, another map specific to that area is displayed to look at or snap a photograph, then it gives you the map on your smart phone. While this would be an amazing thing at many of the attractions around the world, it realistically won’t be happening overnight. So why not play your part and take a photo of the large maps most sites have displayed at the entrance and skip grabbing one of the handheld paper ones. Encouraging those in your group to do the same could even start something down the line.Not only does this allow you a different perspective; it also keeps you from using more environmentally harmful transportation methods.

It’s something that few people talk about. It’s a closeted practice that few admit to and yet it could save gallons of water every time you do it. Yep, that’s right. Peeing in the shower is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do and it’s even got benefits for you too! While there doesn’t seem to be any sanitary risks urine should be basically sterile in healthy individuals there could be potential health benefits with respect to cleanliness. In fact there are a whole host of potential benefits of peeing in the shower. I know many will criticize the prolonged shower time thus reducing the benefit, but calculations have shown it’s a small reduction and the water-saving benefits of peeing in the shower are still huge in the whole world.

Really, I believe it’s about the small things. It’s about changing the way you think about the environment and your role in it. Small things add up and can add up large. Once we eliminate the detachment most people feel to the environment and start changing the apathy people have when it comes to their own pollution and creating waste, we’ll find that the destinations we travel to will be kept cleaner and safer for longer. It’s a group effort and it takes time. It doesn’t have to be a trip dedicated to environmental cleanup. It doesn’t have to be a volunteer opportunity that you sign up for. It’s about making a point to contribute in ways that you can, wherever you go and as often as possible.

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