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Episode #11: Eco Travel

Welcome back to Sustainable Existing. As you may know, states are starting to open back up amid the coronavirus and we can get out a bit more than we have the past few months. We are still in the pandemic and we still need to remain diligent when it comes to our health and the health of everyone around us. This is just so listeners and viewers can have this in mind as they may be starting to plan their next trip after this is over. I wanted to make today’s episode on sustainability and making environmentally conscious choices while on-the-go and although we aren’t necessarily at this point yet, but traveling. This is not me telling you to go out and do whatever you please. When out and about and especially on vacation, it is easy to get lazy and make the more “convenient” choice. It is important to stay aware and alert of your choices when you aren’t in the comfort of your house. Environmental issues simply don’t go away because we go on vacation and it is important to be aware of them. 

 Being sustainable is typically easier when going out locally rather than long-distance travel. Before leaving, have a plan of what you are doing and plan accordingly. It is important to remember that single-use plastic is going to be everywhere!! It is also important to remember that zero-waste isn’t the only aspect of sustainability. Food waste is a major issue so consider, always choose size appropriate portions to what you feel you are capable of eating. Another aspect of going out is transportation. Considering that many places aren’t in the easy distance to walk or bike, the most eco-friendly option is to carpool, especially when going out with friends. 

 Eco travel or eco-tourism are the terms coined for travel that creates a sustainable travel future. It is much more than simple swaps you can use. It is about creating a low to minimal impact on the site and cultural practices of the place you are staying, have a positive impact on the local economies of the places your visiting and encourage sustainable choices to those around you. Eco-Tourism is “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.” (the international ecotourism society) They have created a set of “principles of ecotourism."

 1. Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts 

 2. Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect

 3. Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts

 4. Provide direct financial benefits for conservation 

 5. Generate financial benefits for both local and private industry

 6. Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates

 7. Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.

 8. Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous people in your community and work in partnership to create empowerment

 Traveling sustainably is important because it preserves the destination. The goal is to avoid “mass tourism” in these destinations. Not all of these places have recycling systems and many people use plastic water bottles and use plastic containers. Doing the effort on your part can make the biggest difference. Like I always say, if everyone thought their little change was pointless, there would be no change at all. Eco travel helps because it preserves the destination for locals, other travelers, and hopefully future generations.

 Vacationing is all about planning and the same goes for doing it sustainably. As an alternative to plastic shopping bags, bring one or two reusable bags. There are reusable bags that come in small, compact bags that are great for travel. Having a portable cutlery set and a reusable water bottle is always helpful in a pinch. As a kid, if we were going to the airport to travel, my mom would pack empty reusable water bottles and we would fill them up at the water fountains once we passed through security and at the beginning of each day. Cutlery sets typically have a reusable straw but if you don’t have a cutlery set don’t freak out. Simply refuse plastic straws. Like I said, even little changes are important. 

 Another key part of packing is your toiletries. By using to shampoo and conditioner bars, you can save from using the tiny wasteful bottles in the hotel and also from the 3 oz limit in the airport security line. Another key toiletry item, especially for the environment is reef-safe sunscreen. This is something I can’t stress enough. It not only is better for your skin because of the lack of chemicals, but it is also better for marine life. Most other toiletries are swaps that most people recommend as bathroom swaps so I won’t get too much into it.

 When traveling, you need a place to stay in at your destination. The blog “The Dharma Trails” had a good system of what to consider when booking places. The first consideration is how your accommodation relates to you. Will they provide you with plastic-free alternatives? Do they show an effort to try to get guests to reduce water and electricity? This is all about the accommodation supporting guests with sustainable choices. The next thing to consider is the accommodation’s relationship with the community. Does the resort employ local staff and support the community by providing experience opportunities for the locals? The last consideration to make is how your accommodation supports the environment. Does it seem to have consideration for its environmental footprint and limit its impact on its surroundings? Does it support local species? These are all things to consider before deciding on where to stay. 

 Always try to reduce your footprint wherever you are. Water is necessary for almost everything you do and eat. It takes a copious amount of water to grow and make our food so it is important not to create more food waste than you need to. It also takes water to produce items that you buy and to operate places that you stay in. There is also the water you use in your daily life such as showering, drinking, and washing. Energy is used in almost every aspect of our lives. Energy is needed to produce the items we use in our daily lives. You can buy less and shop locally. We use energy in our homes and any accommodation we are staying in. Be conscious of the energy you consume and be smart about how you use it. Energy is needed in transportation. Flying takes a large amount of energy. Use public transportation whenever possible. Like I mentioned before, walking or biking is more energy-efficient and is sometimes more convenient in a city setting. 

 That is all for today! I thought it was quite interesting how even traveling has an impact on the environment. I don’t see traveling in my near future, but when I do, I want to apply the things that I’ve talked about today. In my girl scout troop, we were going to go on a trip this summer, when obviously plans got changed. In planning a new trip, potentially for next year, I think it would be highly beneficial and in my interest to bring up these ideas to them. I would like to thank everyone for listening or reading. My social media accounts, as well as my email, can be found at www.sustainableexisting.com as well as the written-out blog post of this episode. Have a great week and remember to exist sustainably.

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