The essence of travel is the culmination of experiences and the stories that we tell because of those experiences. One can argue that travel is a Human Desire for Exploration which can Lead to Discovery. Discovering new cultures, news ways of doing things, learning and to live, discovering gastronomic delights, lifestyles, nature, artistic expressions but most importantly finding ourselves and the essence of our own being. As Michael Crichton described it, “Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am... Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines... you are forced into direct experience [which] inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience.” Throughout history, humankind has shared an innate trait – the desire to explore and travel. “Prehistoric men and women may have stood curiously at the opening to caves and wondered what was over the next hill,” states Bob Granath. Centuries later, as flying became more popular and commonplace, the nature of the air travel experience began to change. Flying is no longer a novelty or an adventure; it has become a necessity, a necessity that gives traveling a whole new meaning which is not just about exploring but to immerse ourselves into other cultures as the world become more globalized and interconnected; multicultural exposure or experience can even enhance creativity.
The United Nations designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development—an opportunity to raise global awareness about how responsible tourism can act as a vehicle for positive change. As traveling become more and more easier the tourism industry has drastically boomed. Also, as our planet is facing major changes and threats mainly due to consumption, biodiversity, climate change, desertification etc., the more pressing question becomes how can we travel more sustainable? One that preserve and protect those spectacular places we yearn to explore and the wildlife we so love.
Human beings are the center of concern for sustainable development in harmony with nature.
At Trailblazer Travelz we are committed to making sustainable choices that will reduce our footprint, and are crucial to the continual exploration of new places; one that embraces wildlife and environmental conservation, social responsibility and economic development. The three pillars of sustainable tourism are employing environmentally friendly practices (reduce, reuse, recycle); protecting cultural and natural heritage (restoring historic buildings or saving endangered species); and providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities (ranging from upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to supporting fair wages for employees). So, how do we ensure our personal traveling experience does not contribute to the destruction of local communities and vulnerable environments but preserve, respect, honors protects and appreciate this immensely beautiful biosphere.
Below are few tips to keep in mind.
“The three pillars of sustainable tourism are employing environmentally friendly practices (reduce, reuse, recycle); protecting cultural and natural heritage (restoring historic buildings or saving endangered species); and providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities (ranging from upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to supporting fair wages for employees).”
1. Pack & Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups & Say no to plastic:
Our oceans are in danger and their ecosystem because of the gazillions of throw-away plastic bottles and bags that will take hundreds of years, if ever, to break down, all the while wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. To be part of the solution use stainless steel water bottle and refill it rather than buying bottled water. Or use locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles (in the tropics, drink coconut water to stay hydrated). Not only will this cut back on plastic waste, it will also reduce your carbon footprint–petroleum-based ingredients are a staple in manufacturing plastic bottles and bags.
Klean Kanteens, particularly the insulated ones that keep water cold throughout the day (we have a 20oz in ‘Bamboo Leaf’ green and a 32oz in ‘Winter Lake’ blue, both of which are great for hiking and other sports). If you’re traveling somewhere with no access to clean tap water, rather than buying single-use plastic bottles, take the time to either boil your water first, or treat it with water purification tablets. If you absolutely must buy bottled water, consider getting one large bottle to share rather than an individual one for each member of the family.
2. Research your tour operators.
If you are looking to work with a tour operator or travel company, find out about their sustainable practices by asking questions such as: What are some of your tour company’s environmentally friendly practices? Do you employ local tour guides on your trips? Can you give me an example of how your trips help to protect and support wildlife or cultural heritage? Do the company uses local transportation and locally owned accommodations and donates money to carbon offset programs? If they don’t have any or can’t give you a clear answer they are more Thank likely behind the times. Find yourself others who do.
3. Conserve water:
It is reported that by the Environmental Protection Agency that, Water Stats. The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually, from household leaks. ... Household leaks can waste approximately nearly 900 billion gallons of water annually nationwide. That's equal to the annual household water use of nearly 11 million homes. For basic, water-saving measures: Don’t run the tap while brushing your teeth. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save 8 gallons of water per day and, while shaving, can save 10 gallons of water per shave. Assuming you brush your teeth twice daily and shave 5 times per week, you could save nearly 5,700 gallons per year. Don’t heat up the water for 10 minutes before getting in the shower, or take a 30 minute shower for that matter (no matter how good it feels!). Sometimes water has to travel many many miles to your tap; it’s precious, treat it that way. Some parts of the world are experiencing mass irrigation on a scale that it has never been seen before. Not just in farming, but in everyone’s gardens (good old British weather means it’s never been an issue at home!). As much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. A household with an automatic landscape irrigation system that isn't properly maintained and operated can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency
Unfortunately, air travel is one of the more environmentally damaging activities we can undertake. Globally, the aviation industry is responsible for roughly 2% of carbon dioxide emissions, but that is rising quickly as more people fly more often.
4. Avoid the plane and take the train.
A more novel way to reduce air travel emissions is to skip the flight completely, however, since that’s impossible for international and long distance travelers, instead, become part of the emerging “slow travel” trend by going to fewer places and spending more time in each. Traveling to Africa for example once or twice a year. Train travel is a good way to do this too. Not only will you experience a deeper sense of place, you’ll also decrease your carbon footprint. In North Africa such as Morocco, the trains are efficient, effective and cost efficient to travel from one major city to another. Same goes for East Africa, Southern Africa and some parts of West Africa.
Flying nonstop rather than connecting can help, too: The more times you take off, the more fuel you use. According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle. Some research suggests that flying in warmer temperatures is less efficient, since hot air is thinner and makes it harder for planes to get enough lift to take off. If you fly, offset it.
When you buy carbon offsets, you pay to take planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in exchange for the greenhouse gases you put in. For example, you can put money toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
You can buy offsets through some airlines — Delta, United and JetBlue, among others. But they don’t necessarily make it easy during the booking process; some airlines offer offsets only on separate sustainability pages. You can also buy offsets through other organizations.
5. Say “no” to straws:
According to National Geographic, Americans alone use 500 million straws daily. While these small, lightweight bits of plastic seem fairly innocuous, they are having a catastrophic effect of marine wildlife. Unless you have a medical need for them, straws are totally unnecessary. Use stainless steel straws instead if you really need straws, as some dentist recommend. The U-Konserve straws is a great one to consider.
6. Recycle and compost:
Be responsible for your garbage and take the time to access recycling and composting facilities where possible. It doesn’t take long to sort your rubbish into the correct bins.
7. Walk, bike or use public transport:
Carpool, ride your bike, use public transportation or drive an electric or hybrid car. Reduce your carbon footprint by one pound for every mile you do not drive.
Most cities are very walkable, many have bike-sharing services, and public transport is a great way to explore a city beyond just the tourist spots, and an even better way to meet the locals. If you’re staying in a city, there is really no need to rent a car, call an Uber or hail a taxi. You’ll save money, reduce pollution and keep fit. We walk everywhere when in cities and I really wouldn’t be without a sling or wrap. There are few Sustainable cities in Africa such as Lamu Island, Kenya where the main source of transportation is using donkeys. No cars.
8. Pack your own your toiletries and detergents:
Choosing products that are going to be less harmful for the environment can seem a bit of a minefield. We’re hit with clever marketing that makes claims that we can’t follow up on easily. Avoid hotel miniatures: Yes, it may be space- and weight-saving for your luggage, but the complimentary little bottles of shampoo and other toiletries offered by hotels are incredibly wasteful. Sadly, most locations won’t reuse these by refilling them for the next customers and instead, any open bottles go straight in the bin. Consider whether you can use your own toiletries and leave these little bottles unopened. The lure of something for free might be tempting, but the cost to the environment is not worth it. Airbnb hosts tend to have large bottles of shampoo available for guests, just as you would in your home. Hopefully the hotel industry will start to use refillable alternatives and be better advocates for sustainable travel.
9. Download your airline tickets and other receipts:
Recycle paper, plastic and glass. Reduce your garbage by 10% and your carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds a year. Change your paper bills to online billing. You’ll be saving trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck. Read documents online instead of printing them. When you need to use paper, make sure it’s 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
10. Shop local:
Get your groceries from the local farmer’s market, where energy is saved by not having to ship goods hundreds of miles, you can enquire in to the environmental policies of the farm and the conditions in which animals are reared, and you support small businesses.
11. Buy Local Food and spend less in hotel bars and restaurant:
By doing this you are promoting local businesses and it is also a great gastronomic delight when the best local cooks or chiefs made the food. It is also a great way to save money and stay on budget on your travels. It’s Preservative Free: Locally made food doesn’t require long trips to be transported across the country until they reach their final destination. For this reason, food doesn’t need to have any preservatives and other chemicals added to it in order to keep it fresh during transit. It’s Often Pesticide Free: Many local food producers choose to use organic and natural pest repellants to preserve the health of the food they distribute. Foods produced by large-scale agricultural operations are often mass sprayed with pesticides.
12. Never buy wildlife products—period.
On a trip to Vietnam’s Halong Bay, I watched a group of American tourists haggling with villagers who were selling some of the most beautiful sea shells I have come across in my travels. Stay away from buying any hand-stitched eagle hunter’s hat made from plush wolf fur. These travelers were inadvertently helping to support a growing marketplace for trafficking rare and endangered wildlife products as souvenirs.
13. Avoid wildlife crime:
From elephants and rhinos in Africa to tropical coral reefs across the oceans, wildlife stimulates tourism around the world. A recent project by The Nature Conservancy states that the value of coral reefs to tourism is around $30 billion on an annual basis, and that one shark at prime diving spots in Palau has a lifetime value of $1.9 million in terms of the tourism it attracts. One of the targets under SDG #15 is to ‘take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora & fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products’. And note the use of the word ‘urgent’ — there is real concern that our generation may be the last to see these iconic species in the wild. The message is clear — local communities are the key to combating wildlife crime, and the Travel & Tourism sector has a unique opportunity turn that key.
14. Brush with bamboo:
A toothbrush takes approximately 450 years to decompose in salt water, so make the switch to a bamboo alternative to help keep plastic out of our oceans and off our coastlines. Go Bamboo brushes are great and comes in adult and child sizes. The handle is made of natural bamboo and an edible wax, making it suitable for compost. We also use their compost-suitable cotton buds.
15. Turn off appliances:
Switch off lights, the air-conditioning and electrical appliances when you leave your hotel or Airbnb for the day. Does the room really need to be ice cold when you get back? Probably not.
16. Ask about photography:
Sustainable travel isn’t just about preserving the environment, but also the history and culture of our destination. When visiting museums, galleries, churches and major historic sites, make sure photography is allowed before you snap that picture. Flash photography in particular can harm precious, centuries-old artworks. When in doubt, ask.
17. As the saying goes, ‘take only photographs, leave only footprints’:
It is not acceptable to collect rocks, corals, wildlife and other ‘memorabilia’ from their travels. Contributing to the destruction of both man-made historical sites and the natural world is never acceptable; we have a responsibility to preserve these wonders for the next generation.
In Conclusion, what are some sustainable travel tips you practice daily and how do you keep yourself accountable?