Noun /səˈsteɪnəb(ə)l ˈtʊərɪz(ə)m/ the level of tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the environment and local communities, and aims to benefit these parties.
Sustainable tourism protects natural resources like wildlife and national parks, provides authentic experiences that are representative of a culture and has a direct socioeconomic benefit for those local communities. Over 42% of Americans say they are committed to prioritizing sustainability over other values during their travels. It is clear sustainability is a huge focus for the modern traveler, so let’s discuss six simple steps you can take towards being a sustainable global citizen right now! 1. Choosing Travel Mindfully
Research shows that air travel accounts for 3 percent of all CO2 emissions. Whilst that doesn't sound much in the big picture, consider how often you fly versus the amount of time you use a car in one year. For example, a return flight from LAX to Singapore puts just over three tons of CO2 into the air – that’s just under what a single car emits in a year. Flying nonstop and spending more time in a single destination can help save CO2, since planes use the most fuel when they take off. Many airlines have options to offset your CO2 before you travel, with the money from your offset contribution being invested in projects that reduce carbon and other greenhouse gases. When in Rome do as the Romans do, they say. So why not try taking local transportation to a destination to really see how the local community lives? Some of my great adventures started on a local bus, train and motorbike - embrace the journey! 2. Take the Path Less Travelled
Overtourism is changing the face of some of the planet's well-known hotspots, with those bucket list destinations being literally overrun and communities becoming overwhelmed as tourists flood the area. While Instagram photos show the Taj Mahal and the Colosseum as places of peaceful beauty, the reality is that there are a lot of queues and hordes of tourists in these places. Like we say at The Travellist Co. “Forget ordinary. Choose different.” Less explored areas allow travelers to have a more unique and authentic experience while avoiding the crowds. Stretch your comfort zone by staying in locally owned homestays and guest houses rather than another Hilton and eat at local restaurants to savor traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients - you'll thank us for this one!
3. Say No to Single Use and Yes to Quality
Modern travelers are more aware than ever of their environmental impact. An article in Forbes states we still collectively use one million plastic bottles each minute with most of them not being recycled. At home we have our habits in place to do our part, and we can take these away with us when we travel. Before you even leave home, replacing disposable utensils, clothing and equipment with high-quality and durable alternatives will reduce the demand to produce more. Make sure you reuse a product until it wears out rather than replacing it with a new fad or fashion. Whilst avoiding single use plastics like you would at home, say no to plastic bottles by having your own reusable water bottle. Many brands now offer in-built water purifiers, so you don’t need to worry about water quality. Use a tote bag for picking up groceries and add refillable toiletry bottles to your packing list.
4. Join the Global Community
Volunteering or voluntourism is gaining in popularity. These volunteer trips provide you with the unique opportunity to explore, experience and see the country you are in through the eyes of the local people. Many trips and programs incorporate aspects of volunteering into your vacation, giving unique and authentic knowledge about the local culture and helping contribute to that community at the same time. Voluntourism can have a special focus on subjects that are important to you personally, such as women's empowerment, environment, wildlife protection or community development. Traveling this way can be a great way to make an impact in the issues that mean the most to you.
5. Skip the Souvenirs
Souvenirs can be a beautiful way to remember your travel and the experience you had, but many of the items available may be made from dangerous or illegal material. The money is often not going to the local economy either. Photos are an amazingly sustainable keepsake alternative! Just make sure you always ask permission if there is a local person in the photo because many cultures view having their photo taken as giving a piece of themselves away. You can also choose experiences over material keepsakes. By choosing to make memories you directly benefit the local economy by employing local guides and you are more likely get a truly authentic experience out of it. If you do like crafts, opt for handcrafted souvenirs made by local artisans, they are usually more unique than anything mass-produced in a factory and tend to be more environmentally friendly. 6. Use Your Voice Sustainable travel is gaining traction but there is still a long way to go! Drive change by choosing businesses that are proactive in reducing their environmental impact and contributing to the well-being of local communities. Use your voice as someone committed to a greener future by questioning the practices, and policies a business may claim to have. Most businesses with genuine intentions will welcome your interest and feedback.