It seems as though wherever humans go, they leave destruction in their wake. From the bottom of the deepest ocean to the peak of Everest, you can find evidence of humans and their waste.
It’s shameful. One wonders if we should just prevent humans from visiting these places at all. It’s fair, but apart from being a Draconian solution, and it also undermines the economic benefits of tourism for local communities.
One solution for this is what’s called ecotourism or green tourism. It’s a kind of tourism program that puts nature conservation first. It invites tourists to visit places respectfully and mindfully, doing minimal to no harm to the environment being visited.
As tourists ourselves, we may be extremely eager to get out and travel right now, especially after being locked up at home for more than a year. It’s important, however, to use this period as an opportunity to adjust our mindsets when it comes to travel.
Sea of green
Don’t you miss the beach? The calm lapping of the waves. The warm sun. The powdery sand on your feet.
Going to the beach can certainly be a restorative experience, but there’s nothing more off-putting than floating calmly in the waters only to find bits of trash floating alongside you.
Humans are not sea creatures, no matter how much you love the water. Understand that you are simply a guest in these shores, which belong not just to the locals but more importantly, to the creatures that form this marine ecosystem.
We benefit from going to the beach, so it’s only right that we do so as kind and polite guests. First of all, no littering. You can bring some food and snacks to the shore, but please take everything back home with you. Don’t leave anything behind.
If you can, why not dedicate one afternoon of your visit to organizing a little beach clean-up? It’s a great activity that you can do with your family and friends. Instead of lounging, you can get that tan while doing something helpful and productive.
Speaking of tanning, make sure that the sunscreen and tanning lotion you’re using are reef safe. Many sunscreens have ingredients that, while safe for humans, are harmful to coral reefs. So sunbathe safely—for both you and the ocean.
Pure as snow
Before you put your Bogner ski pants on, consider the effects that your winter sporting activities may have on the environment.
It’s extra difficult for ski resorts. With global warming and climate change, winter seasons have become shorter, affecting the resorts’ businesses. At the same time, however, the business does affect the natural ecosystem of the mountains.
To work around this, there are ski resorts that have made efforts to be as green as they can be. They have tried to be as self-sufficient as possible, reducing their carbon emissions and using recycled materials. As a skier, it would be best if you choose to patronize these establishments instead.
Be good in the woods
When going camping or hiking, it’s so easy to just go with single-use or disposable items. From water bottles to food wrappers, it’s so much more convenient to be able to leave behind stuff once they’re consumed, to make your journey back lighter.
That, of course, is careless and selfish. The beauty of going to the mountains is being able to get a respite from city life, bask in the energy of nature, and see its natural wonders. We are welcomed into this space, so it’s only right that we behave like proper guests.
The key when hiking, as with any outdoor activity, is to not disturb nature—or at least do as minimal a disturbance as you can. Stick to fixed paths—as they are safer and will minimize further altering the space. Whatever you bring with you, make sure to bring them back home. Don’t leave anything behind.
Apart from the impact that our hikes can have on a forest’s ecosystem, we also have to consider what it would be like for future hikers if you leave behind such blatant evidence of your presence. It truly ruins the whole experience.
When you’re a traveler, you’re a visitor to Mother Nature’s home. You are also likely entering a space already occupied by existing communities. It goes without saying that you need to mind your manners. Be grateful for being welcome, behave accordingly, and show your gratitude by doing no harm.