How to Tread Lightly in Eco­tourism

As a travel writer, I’ve vis­ited many sus­tain­able tourism des­ti­na­tions and eco-friendly ho­tels across the world. They’re do­ing their bit but how can you, as an eco-con­scious trav­eller, play your part? Here are a few sim­ple tips on how to con­trib­ute to eco

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Holly Tup­pen.

Be a greener guest

From five-star pri­vate vil­las to thatch-roofed beach huts, my favourite places to stay have one thing in com­mon: they teem with en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion. The food they serve, the ex­pe­ri­ences they con­jure, the peo­ple they host and the land they in­habit, are all spe­cial. The best hote­liers take mat­ters into their own hands when it comes to en­sur­ing their hos­pi­tal­ity ben­e­fits rather than in­hibits lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment, leav­ing their guests to do what they do best – in­dulge. That said, ev­ery­one can be mind­ful about what's best for the world we all live in, and go­ing green is no longer the pre­serve of hes­sian-wear­ing com­post-toi­let en­thu­si­asts. Con­sid­er­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and treading lightly means ap­pre­ci­at­ing the link be­tween your travel ex­pe­ri­ences and the peo­ple, flora and fauna that not only sur­round them but make them pos­si­ble in the first place.

Ev­ery drop counts

Wa­ter scarcity is inch­ing up the chart of se­ri­ous global prob­lems, with de­mand pro­jected to ex­ceed sup­ply by a stag­ger­ing 40 per­cent by 2030. Al­most a quar­ter of the world's pop­u­la­tion lives in ar­eas of wa­ter scarcity, in­clud­ing large parts of Asia and Africa. For ex­am­ple, LUX* Re­sorts and Ho­tels (see page 06) does its bit to con­serve wa­ter be­hind the scenes, such as wa­ter­ing gar­dens with grey wa­ter and rais­ing aware­ness about wa­ter wastage through in-room in­for­ma­tion, but it's also worth per­son­ally go­ing the ex­tra mile. This might mean avoid­ing wa­ter in plas­tic bot­tles, drink­ing glasses of your H2O poured from big bot­tles in­stead of small serv­ings, and re­duc­ing laun­dry, such as tow­els, when­ever you can, or choos­ing a shower rather than a bath.

Oceans of plas­tic

Plas­tic bags are killing sea crea­tures; dis­carded bot­tles and con­tain­ers are chok­ing is­land com­mu­ni­ties; even mi­cro­scopic poly­mers in sun creams are killing co­ral. How­ever much we hear about the prob­lem, con­ve­nience re­mains king. A levy on plas­tic bags in su­per­mar­kets has made an im­pres­sive re­duc­tion in their use in the UK, so too can a few sim­ple steps on hol­i­day stave off land­fill dis­as­ters and ocean de­struc­tion. Con­sider re­mov­ing pack­ag­ing be­fore trav­el­ling; take a re­us­able shop­ping bag and re­us­able wa­ter bot­tle – that trop­i­cal is­land par­adise, moun­tain idyll or na­ture re­serve is great for lots of things, but dis­pos­ing of ex­cess trash is not one of them.

Off­set­ting jet-set­ting

Ho­tels of­ten in­vite guests to fi­nan­cially en­hance their en­vi­ron­men­tal and char­i­ta­ble goals. Although it can grate to feel as though you've paid ad­di­tional cash for no tan­gi­ble rea­son, if you're fly­ing across the world on your hol­i­day, fund­ing car­bon re­duc­tion is a tiny price to pay for your global free­dom. Car­bon-off­set­ting schemes not only help re­duce the car­bon emis­sions of a ho­tel or re­sort but have ad­di­tional eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, such as for­est plant­ing and jobs creation.

About the Au­thor: Holly Tup­pen is a free­lance writer, ed­i­tor, re­searcher, sus­tain­able travel ex­pert (with over ten years of ex­pe­ri­ence) and for­mer ed­i­tor of Green Hote­lier.

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