Travelling with consciousness may seem a simple and obvious behavioral choice for seasoned global trotters. However it only takes a trip to the highly popular Thai islands to see the effects of global and local pollution, a fair amount due to international tourists I am sure.
According to The United Nations Environment Program “Negative impacts from tourism occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment’s ability to cope with this use within the acceptable limits of change. Uncontrolled conventional tourism poses potential threats to many natural areas around the world. It can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened vulnerability to forest fires. It often puts a strain on water resources, and it can force local populations to compete for the use of critical resources.”
An often toted (and highly annoying) phrase used by many is “But what can one person do? Or “It’s too late, I can’t make a difference.” This is an outdated and irresponsible stance and to be honest, if this is your mind set, stay at home please, you are part of the problem.
So what can one wayward traveller do? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Take a reusable water bottle and filter with you. No excuses. There are some really great, easy to carry bottles now that have built in purifiers in them. Chances are, in some countries anyway, you are being scammed on the bottled water, as it is just tap water resealed!
- Take an empty plastic bag on walks and trips to the beach. As you walk, pick up the rubbish on your way. You will be amazed at the amount of litter just dumped in the bush and beaches, just waiting for the next toddler or animal to pick up and put in their mouths.
- If you are camping or using a campervan or motorhome, use environmentally safe cleaning products and please don’t wash your clothing in the streams!
- Carpool…yes even when renting. Save costs on petrol by putting your plans up on couch surfing or Jayride and find some travel buddies.
- Only fly when necessary. Aviation produced air pollution is a major concern right now so keep this in mind. In fact one study estimated that a single transatlantic return flight emits almost half the CO2 emissions produced by all other sources (lighting, heating, car use, etc.) consumed by an average person yearly.
- Eat and buy local produce. Support the local farmers and business people so that the big guns in the tourism industry don’t eat up all the potential profits from your visit.
- Walk! Remember this action? The one that our ancestors used to take part in on a daily basis…Yes walk whenever you can or take a local mode of transport if it is too far.
- And finally…if you bought it with you…take it home again! The only thing you should leave behind are smiles on local faces and some money in their pockets