Its easy to chant the poems of environment and have heated conversations about the fate of future generations over a coffee. But its not easy to imbibe that eco-concern and consciousness when one travels. Have you ever tried to look at your travel footprint differently? As an Eco-tourist? Here’s how to do it so:
- Do you always travel via air even if there are road and train options available and when you are not constrained for time?
- Do you offset carbon consumed during flights with the programmes now available?
- Do you waste food and electricity with an abandon because the bill falls on the hotels lap?
- Many industry standards and certifications are now around to encourage and validate the eco wave like the Fair Trade Tourism Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, Green Glove 21, Blue Flag Global, Green Leaders program etc. Do you check out the hotel for any such stamps before you check in?
- Do you leave the towel and linen as instructed by the hotel if it is needless to wash them?
- Do you throw around your chocolate wrapper anywhere?
- Do you enjoy the camping night on a hill but forget to pick up your garbage?
- Do you look down upon a hotel that has minimal furniture, minimal air conditioning and natural lighting?
- Do you use a lot of cutlery when only one spoon and plate can suffice?
- Do you always buy from branded stores and would never settle for a locally-made gift item?
- Do you behave in a condescending manner towards local people? Do you feel your actions are not relevant for the community that the place you are visiting thrives in?
- Would you be able to put up with any slight inconvenience that solar-powered water, rain-water harvesting, water recycling, minimal lighting etc can cause?
- Do you even read the instructions that the hotel leaves on your arrival?
- Do you think being on a vacation gives you the privilege of being a little irresponsible and indulgent that harms the planet or the community?
Being an eco-tourist today connotes a lot more responsibility, accountability and discretion than what was expected a few decades back. Our planet is suffering a serious challenge and one that is human-caused. The human ingredient of climate change and depletion of crucial resources cannot be shrugged or dismissed easily. One has to do whatever is possible in ones capacity. If you can help local communities, contribute to recycling, reforestation and bio-diversity conservation, then nothing like it.
Alternatively, you can also make your contribution by stopping to consider some reflexive actions as a tourist. Try to be aware of the resources you consume. Try to discourage poaching and other forms of animal exploitation even if it means turning your back on a fur coat that looks tempting.
Hotel and aviation players are being pushed for massive change and investments by activists and regulators in the current landscape. But their efforts, whether incentivized or deliberate, would not bear fruits until the end user helps in driving the actual cause in the right direction.
Try choosing eco-friendly places and trips over luxury spots. Try to co-operate in your best possible way with the small changes in habits and behavior that any place requests. Try to be a responsible tourist by just not having respect but showing it in actions when it comes to how you treat the local community. One small action can create a lot of impact in due course of time.
You can leave many pleasant trips for the next generation when they travel to a place that you visited. Its a small effort on your part but it can mean a lot for that generation and the planet that they inherit.
Let eco-tourism be a constant force for all your vacations, choice of transport, accommodation options, itinerary planning and budgets. Let go of the misconception that to travel responsibly is to travel frugally or with inconvenience. Who knows it can be more fun to travel the green way? If only we try. If only we let go of some bad and out-of-time habits. If only we do just a small thing co-operate. So let’s all be eco-tourist.
(Originally published on moneycontrol)