Connect with us


Sustainable tourism: people power and destination stewardship



The approach to a holiday differs widely, but generally there are two extremes, with most people dotted in between. A holiday is either a time to go away, be pampered, never leave the pool side and think solely of oneself, or it is an opportunity to get down and dirty with a new place, discovering sights and cultures previously unknown.

Sustainable tourism is not about suggesting that all comforts are eschewed in favour of a tent and Zen, but about ensuring that travel provides what the tourist wants, as well as the local community and environment, at the time of the holiday and later down the line.

Why does it matter? Can’t we just relax about this whole sustainability thing for two weeks a year? Between 2010-2011 the number of tourists travelling abroad increased 4%, reaching 1 billion in 2013. It is estimated that this will have doubled by 2020.

With 2 billion people travelling to international shores every year, how can it be ensured that the effect is one of positivity? Or if you want an even more dramatic stat, consider that it has grown 4,000% since 25 million went travelling in the 1950s.

This is a huge number of people having a huge impact upon the world, and this growing demand for holidays correlates alarmingly well with a decrease in resources with which to do so.

Sustainable tourism as an industry for change

Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, spoke at September 2012’s World Tourism Day, where the focus was on sustainable tourism. He said tourism was a necessary and important industry to consider if the UN’s development goals are to be achieved, if only due to its size as an economic sector, and its relationship with energy (tourism is responsible for an estimated 5% of the world’s energy consumption).

Representing 9% of the global GDP and responsible for one in 12 jobs, and given that in 30% of developing countries tourism is the prime export, the industry has the potential to make a huge difference.

Click here to read The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2013

When on holiday, we all behave a little differently, and are less rigid – whether that is the diet, bedtime, or letting the tap run. According to, on average a Canadian household uses 3,261 litres of water per day, whereas a single resident in a luxury hotel uses around 1,800. Compare this to a village of around 700 in a developing country that uses only 500 per month.

Just one long haul flight emits the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the average UK motorist does on an annual basis. But this isn’t a post about turning off the tap or reusing towels, as numerous hotels will tell you to do that via little signs in the bathroom. This is about what I think is the most important part of sustainability: the people.

The power of people

When researching the concept of sustainable travel, I saw it referred to as ‘destination stewardship’, a phrase and definition that particularly resonated. A responsibility to care and consider the communities you visit, not in any sense of ownership, but due to them being equal human beings. Community development and cultural heritage should be protected and enhanced, and this can only be done with a good understanding of local needs.

A recent study by Churchill Insurance claims that an average family of four spends £4,792 on a fortnight-long holiday. An eye watering amount as it is, but even more so for many tourist vendors.

Think how valuable this could be if spent in ways that will benefit a community – without diminishing any value for the tourist. It is important to distribute value and spending amongst the region or community in order to generate value for the area.

That £4,792 can be shared across a small economy – buying ice-cream from one vendor, staying in the local hotel, using a different transport company every day, visiting different places for dinner – or can be lost in the bottom line profits of a multinational. It is not necessarily about how much someone spends, but where it is spent, considering the consequences and implications of one’s actions.

Maximising your impact

In June 2012, the UN Economic Commision for Africa estimated that less than 22% of revenue spent actually lands with the local African communities: a worrying statistic. So what can be done to share out the benefits of tourism?

The Vietnamese tourist board has been very hands-on in encouraging integration of the local community in their tourism plans, aiming to engage locals through homestay accommodation, employing them as tour guides, and encouraging authentic travel.

Meanwhile, Destination Melbourne has made it its role to reduce the environmental impact of tourism, and in particular has integrated energy efficiency into its plans and formed benchmarks and committees to regulate this.

As well as the destination ensuring that sustainability can be achieved, it is the role of the tourist to think about the communities and places they are visiting. The answer to this? People.

Be interested in where you are visiting, why it is unique, and the people that make the place – and make sure that everything you do enhances the positive aspects of your trip and your hosts. Tourism For Tomorrow centres its activity around three central tenets: people, planet and profit. It is finding a balance between these that will be the answer to true sustainability, and happy holidays.

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at

Further reading:

A responsible tourist considers local communities

UN emphasises ‘vital role’ of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism can help tackle the world’s biggest challenges, says UN official

81% of tour operators and 75% of travellers say yes to more sustainable travel

The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2013

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

Continue Reading


5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

Continue Reading