Travelling. We all do it, even if it’s just to the fridge and back to the couch
While some of us get enough of a thrill watching movies on the couch (hollah), others are born with an inherent wanderlust and thirst for adventure.
But did you know that your selfish, soul-searching actions are taking a big toll on the planet?
Worry not! In support of Earth Day, youth travel expert, Contiki, has shared some of their best tips for keeping your footprint’s footprint as light as possible, so you can go about enjoying you Eat-Pray-Love shenanigans with a clear conscience. We’ve also decided to bring along our friend, Socality Barbie to help us keep it as #authentic and as Instagram friendly as possible.
Here’s how you can have your cake and it too, while you know… travelling.
1. Choose a responsible travel provider (hint, hint: Contiki)
Take some time to research travel companies before booking your trip, and choose organisations that have a proven record in environmental best practice and that support local communities, suppliers and artisans in the destinations that they serve.
For example, say Contiki, Contiki has created Contiki Cares in partnership with the TreadRight Foundation, to spearhead a programme of sustainable initiatives that includes sea turtle conservation, beach clean ups, the preservation of cultural heritage, supporting local communities, suppliers and artisans, and educating travellers in responsible practices.
There are probably some other good resources on responsible travel providers out there too, but time is short, and we simply must move on.
2. Pick destinations based on their commitments to sustainable practices
When choosing your holiday destination, consider the country’s human rights record, commitment to peace, and environmental conservation policies before deciding where to travel. This may sound tricky but it’s actually pretty fun. Reading this article is a pretty good place to start.
3. Do not infect your destinations with indestructible plastic
Plastic drink bottles, hotel miniatures… these are things to avoid. I know it may seem like an obvious one, but it’s so easy to forget when you’re off having the adventure of a lifetime. Try embracing reusable water-bottles and bringing your own products from home in refillable bottles.
Plastic consumption is a very real problem: just about every single piece of plastic ever created still exists today in some form or other. 90% of all floating material in the ocean is plastic and every year one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles die as a direct effect of plastic pollution. (Find out more about the impact of our appetite for plastic on the world’s beaches in Contiki’s Wise up to Plastics documentary here – you’ll never see plastic water bottles in the same way again.)
So adopt a zero tolerance policy towards plastic wherever you go. Except for plastic dolls, which are to be treasured and treated to tiny plastic coffees.
4. Buy local, buy ethically and contribute to locals’ livelihoods and communities
Supporting local businesses and spending money in lesser-visited communities helps to give something back to the places that you visit, but there are many things you can do to make a more significant impact. Some tour operators offer opportunities to get involved in their community and charitable foundation projects as part of a fixed itinerary, or research volunteer organisations with programmes in your destination and donate some of your holiday time to support their initiatives.
Shopping in local stores and markets, eating in locally-owned restaurants and hiring local guides are great way to financially support the communities that you visit. Ensuring that what you buy is sustainable and ethical is a great way to affect change – the more demand there is for sustainably viable produce then the more it will be made available.
It goes without saying that you should never buy products made from endangered species, or historical and culturally valuable artefacts. Do check where products come from, and report anything illegal.
5. Don’t disturb the flora or fauna
Wherever possible it is a good idea to engage in low-impact activities on holiday. These are sports and excursions that don’t disturb the environment or local communities, and that avoid using a lot of fossil fuels. Choose sustainable suppliers, and check that they have ethical and sustainable policies in place for employment, recycling, etc.
These may seem like small changes, but cumulative effect can be great. Now you are #blessed with this information, go off into the world, have an adventure and remember to always, always be #authentic.
For further information and more tips for making our lives and travels sustainable, see legendary environmentalist, documentarian and oceanographer, Celine Cousteau, talk to internet personality and vlogger, Alli Speed, in this video, created by The TreadRight Foundation, the not-for-profit owned by Contiki’s parent company, TTC.