Traveling and exploring the planet can be one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences. Every year, millions of travelers pack their bags and hop onto planes to visit new cities, meet new people and witness earth’s natural beauty, first hand. However, all this travel also has a downside. As travelers embark on their voyages, they leave a significant carbon footprint in their path, making tourism a leading contributor to global CO2 emissions and consequently climate change.
With the UN declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, what can you do to be a sustainable traveller? Here are 10 things you can do to make sure, the only footprints you leave, are in the sand.
Cut down on your air travel: Airlines are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting down on air travel is sure to reduce your carbon footprint. Look for greener alternatives like bus or train when travelling short distances, choose direct routes, and try to pick flights that have higher occupancy. Planning in advance would help you prepare better and save money! Alternatively, you could choose to offset your contributions to GHG emissions on account of air travel by opting for carbon offset credits while booking air tickets.
Travel light: Every kilo counts – lighter planes equals lesser fuel consumption. The more a plane weighs the more carbon it emits. But it’s not just about the plane; shedding extra kilos from the bag pack would help you be more mobile during your trip. With minimal baggage the need for a private cab is reduced, it becomes easier to hop on a bus or train or even walk.
Choose eco-friendly stays: Choosing low-cost, local, no-frills attached accommodations such as home stays and couch-surfing options will benefit both, the environment and the community. You can also choose to stay at an eco-hotel or eco-resorts which are special facilities that follow eco-friendly practises. You can find such facilities on travel websites, blogs and travel magazines. Enquire about the hotel’s practices regarding waste management & recycling, policy on energy efficiency and usage of renewable energy. Check on their green certifications before making a decision.
Stay as if you're home: Live in your hotel the same eco-friendly way you would at home. Avoid taking long-showers, turn the lights off while leaving the room, hang your towels up to let the staff know not to wash them. Use the drapes tactfully to maintain right room temperature. Those mini shampoos, soaps, and moisturizers may be cute, but they take of lot of energy to produce. Leave them untouched if you don’t need them.
Carry re-usable material: Ecotourism is about experiencing nature with minimum impact. One of the serious hazards to the environment is disposable batteries so use rechargeable batteries, and carry compact solar phone/battery charger. Carry reusable bottles/containers or use one made of compostable materials.
Of the local, by the local, for the local: The true joy of tourism lies in experiencing the local culture. While on a trip hire a local guide. You would discover more about the local culture, the landscape and its wildest, most wonderful spots by hiking, biking or rafting with a local expert. Doing these activities with the locals would not only help you locate the authentic local places for shopping and dining, but would also bolster the local economy, all while you cut down on your transportation costs.
Bring home gifts: Buying souvenirs and trinkets contribute to the livelihoods of the local communities. However, ensure that you buy from registered shops and as a practice make sure that the products are not from any endangered species including animal hides and body parts, shells, ivory or corals.
Leave no trace: As an eco-tourist you must follow all the rules and guidelines of the location – stay on trails and public footpaths; do not remove plants or feed animals. Don’t disturb local wildlife including shells, coral, sand or flowers from their natural environments. If you’re hiking, be sure to stick to the path so you don’t accidentally trample on any endangered species.
Making eco-friendly choices back home: Before you embark on the trip, make sure the lights, electronics; appliances are switched off so that you are not wasting any electricity while you are away. Plug out the lamps, thermostat and the air conditioner. You can also stop the newspaper service for the period you are away.
Spread the word: If you enjoyed your trip and the service provided by an ecotel or eco-friendly travel agency, spread the word. The more people hear about these services, higher the chance they’ll use it. A blog is a great way to help publicize your trip and share your experiences for the benefit of others. A word of appreciation, a note of thanks directly to your hotel staff or your local guide will also help keep them motivated.
YES BANK Natural Capital Awards is a platform for nature enthusiasts, wildlife photographers and environmentalists to showcase their phenomenal work in conserving Mother Nature and its beautiful creations.
Registrations for2017 edition of the awards are open in five categories – Eco-corporate, (Manufacturing/Services), Pixel Perfect (individual entry) and Trailblazer (team entry) for photography, and two new categories – Ecotourism and Nature Leader. Winners will be awarded at a ceremony in New Delhi in September 2017.
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