The world is in grave danger. We’re a few steps away from completely destroying natural resources that will cause harmful effects to our environment and affect how we live.
In a world that heavily relies on single-use materials and produces tons of waste every year, it’s becoming an increasing concern for global organizations on how to combat these long-term environmental challenges.
Now, travelling has become more accessible for the majority of us. What we do not know is that mass tourism actually contributes to the global environmental problem. That’s why the United Nations is heavily endorsing the cultivation of sustainable tourism as part of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable tourism is not just about using eco-friendly by bringing your own utensils when traveling to minimise waste, it’s a large-scale transformation that affects every industry, from accommodation and tours to food and local livelihood industries.
As travellers, what can you do to help minimise damage to the environment? Here are 7 friendly tips.
Do your research before travelling.
Before travelling to your dream destination, better make a thorough research on the current environmental state of the country you’re going to.
There are certain countries in Europe or Australia that have total bans on plastic or single-use products and have strict implementations on waste segregation or Japan and Singapore where public smoking will cost you a heavy fine or going to jail.
Every country has its own initiative on how they lessen their hazardous impact to the planet. Make a contribution, do your research.
Look for an eco-friendly tour, restaurants, and accommodation.
Sustainable tourism is focused towards a long-term goal: creating positive impact on a country’s environmental, economic, and social aspect by creating environmental-friendly regulatory measures that will positively benefit the tourism industry.
That being said, we also have our mission as consumers to be responsible and commit partnering towards a sustainable future. Thankfully, more and more establishments are leaning towards sustainability and more travellers are becoming more aware about sustainable tourism.
There are food establishments offer discounts for people who bring their own utensils, hostels are becoming more popular which actually promotes less generated waste and socialising with different kinds of travellers, tourist destinations keep things clean by charging an extra environmental fee, and start-up local operating tours use other friendly options as means of transportation. The future is all about sustainability.
Don’t use plastic.
18 billion pounds of plastic waste washes up around different coastal regions in the world annually. 18 BILLION. And the number does not stop there.
Following the consumerism trend and rise in global population, this number is expected to increase twice as much in a couple of years if we don’t do something about the environment’s situation.
Imagine, a few years from now, we might be really swimming in trash. It has already been taking a serious toll on marine life. The only way we can help stop this is to stop using plastic that we throw out after being used once or twice.
Bring reusable utensils and a sturdy bag.
Instead of using plastic or materials made for single-use consumption, look into bringing reusable utensils and a sturdy tote bag whenever you’re travelling. Some establishments offer discounts when you bring reusable containers, that might help you save while on trip!
If purchasing without reusable containers cannot be avoided, make sure to at least have it in a biodegradable or environment-friendly packaging (usually made out of recycled paper) or have it placed in a purchasable container but paying at a slightly higher price.
Don’t waste food.
Did you know that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of combined food waste and raw produce are lost every year? Yet, there are still many people who are hungry across the globe. Why?
Here’s how it works: the majority of the world’s commercial suppliers only choose the most good-looking produce that’s up to par with consumer standards before hitting the stores while some restaurants prefer to throw out leftovers and raw products that haven’t been used for the day to ensure freshness of the food being offered to customers and let’s also include households that throw out uneaten or badly gone food.
Food waste is more than just food waste. Energy, soil, time, and livelihood are being affected by it. It’s not a thrifty idea to spend money on food that’s expensive or in excessive quantities that you cannot finish which will usually end up in the garbage. Avoid eating beyond what you can usually consume instead.
Learn to keep your trash and segregate them.
Even if we travel in another country, we must never forget to be responsible citizens. Keeping a trash in your pocket when you can find a garbage bin is an easy thing to do, rather than littering out in the public.
Another thing that we should cultivate as travellers is the importance of waste segregation. Some countries segregate according to biodegradable and non-biodegradable items while others have stricter regulations (e.g. dry items must be separated from dry ones or medical waste has its own category for health and hygienic purposes).
There are countries where you can get jailed for throwing a small piece of trash on the street or even if you’re just chewing gum in public. Discipline is of another importance when it comes to promoting sustainable tourism. It’s also another way of showing respect to a country’s regulations as tourists.
Never support anything that sells endangered animals.
Lastly, never ever buy anything that supports the selling of endangered wildlife. Aside from being an illegal act and indirectly encouraging animal trafficking, these endangered animals are not to be haggled for at marketplaces as exotic delicacies or as souvenirs.
There are several cases where people can actually be deported from a country with strict wildlife laws. You don’t want to be involved in that.