Reduce your impact on our planet, support local economies, and protect wildlife.
The three pillars of sustainable tourism
The three pillars of sustainable tourism are employing environmentally friendly practices (reduce, reuse, recycle); protecting cultural and natural heritage (restoring historic buildings or saving endangered species); and providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities (ranging from upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to supporting fair wages for employees). Here are six things you can do to ease your impact on the planet:
Avoid the plane and take the train.
Become part of the emerging “slow travel” trend by going to fewer places and spending more time in each. Train travel is a good way to do this. Not only will you experience a deeper sense of place, you’ll also decrease your carbon footprint.
Give, the right way.
Many well-intentioned travelers bring sweets, used clothing, books, and pencils to hand out to children and villagers in developing nations. Sadly, this kind giving often has unintended consequences—it can sow community conflict and encourage a culture of dependency and begging. I watched two Maasai women in Africa fight over a T-shirt that a smiling tourist had handed out; in some parts of Asia, the first English words children learn are “Give me sweet.”
It is better to give—be it money or goods—to reputable local organizations that work on social welfare programs, or to international groups that partner with them. A good one is Pack for a Purpose.
Say no to plastic.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of human trash stretching across thousands of miles of the ocean, includes gazillions of throw-away plastic bottles and bags that will take hundreds of years, if ever, to break down—all the while wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems.
Be a part of the solution by opting for locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles (in the tropics, I rely mainly on green coconuts to stay hydrated) and carrying tote bags in your luggage that you can use while perusing street markets and shops. Not only will this cut back on plastic waste, it will also reduce your carbon footprint–petroleum-based ingredients are a staple in manufacturing plastic bottles and bags.
Research your tour operators.
Before seeing out the services of a tour outfitter, always ask three questions before signing on: What are some of your tour company’s environmentally friendly practices? Can you give me an example of how your trips help to protect and support wildlife or cultural heritage? Do you employ local guides on your trips?
These days, any operator that cannot provide a clear answer is behind the times. Find another one. At Traveluxe Official, we are proud to support companies that maintain outstanding sustainable practices.
Support the real local economy.
Locally made crafts and souvenirs are not always cheaper, but purchasing them ensures your contribution to the economy will have a more direct and positive impact.
Emily Lockard-Furry began selling travel in 2014. She specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons, but also plans itineraries for multi-generational families and incentive reward travel.