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Ecotourism flourishes when local people are engaged with sustainability

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‘Green’ is a term that has been getting on my goat during my travels. Everyone is green; everyone is eco-friendly. Simply by virtue of operating outside – which let’s face it, we all do at some point, even if only when walking from the front door to the car – seems to allow people to classify themselves as such. So when arriving in Kaikoura, an ‘ecotourism’ town in New Zealand, what was I to find?

Ecotourism is a policy following a combination of environmental concerns and tourism, defined by the International Ecotourism Society in 1990 as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people“.

New Zealand is in a strong position in terms of its link with nature; it prides itself on being “the youngest country on Earth“. As a result, tourists experience a pure environment that has been largely uncontaminated by humans.

A small population has meant the landscape in many parts of the country has gone almost untouched, but efforts to preserve its natural beauty are key in ensuring that it continues to attract large volumes of tourists.

However, ecotourism is unfortunately used interchangeably with the outdoors, and exposing people to these environments is not the same as being a green tourist destination.

With more than 5,000 people visiting Kaikoura on a daily basis during peak season, the infrastructure is the only way that a green community can continue to exist. Pollution in the form of exhaust fumes, erosion from walking, an increase in plastic bags and waste all take their toll, more so than from the everyday activities of living here.

Kaikoura is a town that does allow ecotourism principles to flourish – but only because it allows the permanent population to practice eco-friendly living. One can not exist without the other.

The community was recently awarded a platinum certificate by the environmental benchmarking programme EarthCheck for 10 years of sustainable tourism practice. It continues to prove its ability to remain eco-friendly in areas such as efficient energy management, air quality protection, land use and freshwater resources management – all measures that help the local community and infrastructure.

The local council does not provide a rubbish collection, just weekly recycling, and whilst locals claim different figures in their bragging to me, all say that around 90% of ‘waste’ is not wasted. It is instead recycled, whether at the local plant or at quirky events such as the annual Trash To Fashion catwalk show, where everything from toothbrushes to fishing buoys are converted into clothing.

The council was also the first to employ an environmental officer, and the plastic bag free campaigns, recycling bins on every street, and LoveNZ recycling project all ensure that it is on track to have no rubbish going to landfills by 2015.

Even tiny details, such as washing tour boats with high-pressured water rather than chemical detergent, or packing group lunches for tourists in 100% biodegradable boxes, have been attended to.

Kaikoura does thrive on outdoors activities, particularly marine-based. But the nature of these activities – marine life watching, walking (or tramping), climbing the hills – all suggest that the environment in some ways allows them to visit and engage.

If the town, the air and the sea were horrible and polluted, would rare animals live here, let alone local townspeople? As it is, the sea air is wonderfully fresh, the hills a lush green, and the breath you inhale walking around a heady delight.

In 1992, a new species, the black eyed gecko, was discovered in the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. Usually shy seals can be found just relaxing on rocks on the peninsula, and dolphins, penguins, albatross and whales all cavort the seas around here. The very rare Hutton Shearwater is being assisted by a relocation project and new breeding reserve, and the forest ranges are monitored closely. These are signs of success, and measures to preserve and persevere with.

Green, outdoors, nature-focused tourism can only exist if the nature and animals are there to see, and are interesting and vibrant enough to see. Their environment must therefore allow for this, and it is local tourists and townsfolk, and eco-friendly measures, that will allow this.

By living an eco-friendly everyday existence, Kaikoura has allowed itself to be an ecotourism destination. Being green is so much more than just a slogan.

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 www.andsoshethinks.co.uk.

Further reading:

Sustainable tourism: ‘going green’ doesn’t just mean a splash of colour

Thriving, livable and green, Melbourne walks the talk as a sustainable city

When on a responsible holiday, do as the locals do

Responsible tourism means helping communities to thrive

The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014

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 www.andsoshethinks.co.uk.

Environment

5 Eco-friendly Appliance Maintenance Tips

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Eco-friendly Appliance
Shutterstock Photos - By Punyhong | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/punyhong

Modern day society is becoming ever more conscious about the effects of human consumption on the environment & the planet.

As a collective, more people are considering taking action to positively counteract their environmental footprint. This is accomplished by cutting down on water consumption, recycling and switching from plastic to more sustainable materials. Although most people forget about the additional things that can be done at home to improve your individual eco footprint.

Appliances, for example, can be overlooked when it comes to helping the environment, despite the fact they are items which are found in every household, and if they are not maintained effectively they can be detrimental to the environment. The longer an appliance is used, the less of an impact it has on the environment, so it is essential for you to keep them well maintained.

If you’re considering becoming more eco-conscious, here are 5 handy appliance maintenance tips to help you.

Don’t Forget to Disconnect From Power First

General maintenance of all your appliances start with disconnecting them from power; microwaves, washing machines and ovens all use residual energy when plugged in, so it’s essential to unplug them.

Disconnecting the plugs can help keep them in their best condition, as it ensures no electrical current is running through them whilst they are supposed to be out of use. Additionally, this can help you save on energy bills. By doing this you are minimising your energy footprint.

Here we break down 4 tips to keep the most popular household appliances maintained.

Eco-Friendly Oven Maintenance

Ovens generally require very little maintenance, although it is essential to stay on top of cleaning.

A simple task to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future is to check the oven door has a tight seal. To do this ensure the oven is cold, open the oven door and use your hands to locate the rubber seal. You can now feel for any tears or breaks. If any have occurred simply replace the seal. More oven tips can be read here.

Eco-Friendly Refrigerator Maintenance

When keeping a fridge in good condition, don’t forget about exterior maintenance. Refrigerator coils, although an external fixture, can cause damage when overlooked.

Refrigerator coils can be found either at the front or rear of a fridge (check you user manual if you are unsure of its location). These tend to accumulate various sources of dust and dirt over a substantial time-period, which clog refrigerator coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work twice as hard to stay cool. An easy tip to solve this is to periodically use a vacuum to get rid of any loose dirt.

Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Maintenance

Most people tend to remember the basics tasks for maintaining a washing machine, such as not to overload the machine, not to slam the door and to ensure the washing machine is on a solid and level platform.

In addition, it is necessary to routinely do a maintenance wash for your washing machine. This means running an empty wash on the highest temperature setting and letting it complete a full wash to erase any build up and residue. You should repeat this task at least once a month.

Try to schedule this task around your bulk wash load times to save on water consumption.

This will help keep your washing machine in peak working condition.

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance Tips

Dishwasher maintenance can be simple if implemented after every wash cycle.

To keep your best dishwasher hygiene standards, scrape away excess food whilst making sure to keep the filter at the bottom of the cavity empty between cycles. This simple task can be highly effective at preventing food build up from occurring in your dishwasher.

If you need additional tips or tasks you, can reference your manufacturer’s guidebook to check for a full breakdown. You can also head to Service Force’s extensive database of repair and maintenance manuals – including extensive troubleshooting guides for all of the critical appliance maintenance procedures.

In conclusion, you can save both money and energy by keeping your appliances in peak condition. The steps outlined in this guide will help us all preserve the environment and reduce industrial waste from discarded appliances.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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