This Diwali, make a few changes to the way you travel and help the environment and the local population.
With global warming and the need for environmental conservation becoming better known, you might be wondering how best to satiate your wanderlust without causing any damage to Mother Nature. Tourists often reap the benefits of nature’s many splendours, and should take great care to responsibly enjoy the great outdoors. Their desire to have moments of peace during travel should not come at the cost of environmental degradation.
Conscientious tour operators and travel agents have now begun to offer eco-friendly vacations for travellers that ensure responsible tourism with a minimal carbon footprint, coupled with sustainable development practices, which help local communities. These are an incredible opportunity for those infected by the travel bug to see the beauty of nature without it weighing heavily on their conscience.
Whether you are on an eco-friendly tour or not, you can still be environmentally conscious and a good role model by attempting to reduce the damage we are doing to our planet. Here are some tips for you.
Choose green transport: Whenever possible, take trains or buses to travel, especially for short-distance trips. If you have to fly, choose an airline that is fuel efficient. At your choice of destination, get around with the help of public transport or share your rides and don’t forget your feet! Look at ways to reduce carbon footprint and check if your hotel offers shuttle services. Many tourist destinations will have bicycles available, which will make for a more interesting and less polluting trip.
Avoid plastic containers and bags: Plastic is not biodegradable, and plastic waste can be disastrous for delicate ecologies, especially since looking for dustbins on your vacation isn’t fun. Avoid buying bottled water and carry your own bottle wherever possible. Bring your own food items such as sandwiches or other snacks to munch on, so you don’t have to buy food wrapped or packaged in plastic.
Reduce and reuse: While a picnic might seem like a good idea, leaving food or disposable plates and spoons lying around is bad for the environment, and rather impolite. Avoid wasting food and carry your own plates and cutlery that can be reused instead of relying on plastic items. While heading out to shop, buy or get a reusable shopping bag to carry your loot.
Limit energy use: Hotels tend to consume a lot of electricity to ensure their smooth functioning. Just because you have paid for your room, do not misuse electricity or waste water. Minimize the use of the AC by using the timer facility and don’t forget to turn off all lights and taps when you leave. Also, unplug all of your appliances and chargers while away from the room, because it wastes energy and is a fire hazard.
Choose stays that promote eco-friendly methods: Look for lodging that has effective waste treatment systems is energy efficient and promotes the use of solar energy or hydroelectric power. If you are heading to a hill station located at a high altitude, then look for accommodations that do not have ACs. Do your research so that you don’t end up staying somewhere that pollutes the environment. If your hotel doesn’t recycle, carry empty bottles or other plastic items out when you checkout.
Respect the local environment: Wherever you go, act as a responsible human being. Ensure that you don’t litter or leave plastics behind, and be conscious of what you might be doing in particularly sensitive places like protected forests or habitats for endangered flora and fauna.
It is essential to remember that while you are just visiting this destination, other people call this beautiful place home and deserve to have it the way they want to. At the end of the trip, you should have added to and not taken away from your destination.
Buy local and eat local: You can contribute to the local economy by buying from local artisans. Try and dine at restaurants with locally sourced ingredients or shop fresh produce from local markets instead of heading to malls. If you’re keen to buy a souvenir or take back memories from your holiday, buy local products and make sure they do not endanger local animals or plants.
(The writer is a traveller, photographer and co-founder and CEO at Toehold)