The concept of ecotourism is not well-defined, and The Guardian even argues that sustainable tourism doesn’t really exist. However, this lack of exact definition only increases the number of ways in which you can be an eco-friendly traveler. In fact, it’s essential to understand that it’s impossible to make a trip 100% ‘green’, especially if you travel overseas. You also shouldn’t limit yourself to only ‘undisturbed natural areas’ for holiday destinations, as the basic definition of ecotourism calls for. Being a smart and environmentally-conscious traveler today you can make every trip more ‘green’ and eco-friendly by using the following tips.
4 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Tourist Anywhere and Anytime
1. Look for ‘green’ living
Even in a middle of a busy city you can find hotels, hostels, and AirBnB accommodations that try to promote sustainable living. You’ll need to work looking for them as not everyone advertises something like this.
Take your time researching the area with the help of Google and various travel blogs as well as local organizations dedicated to environmental protection. Feel free to ask people on social media for advice. Once you shortlist a few properties/hotels, give them a call and ask exactly what kind of eco-friendly practices they use. These might range from using sustainable energy to having a water-saving scheme to donating to the environmental charities in the area.
Don’t forget that even if you don’t get a chance to choose an eco-friendly accommodation, you can make your stay there ‘greener’. Simple things like not wasting energy with turned on lights and utilizing water-saving practices will reduce your personal carbon footprint.
2. Walk when you get there
You might not be able to avoid using an airplane or some other decidedly non-eco-friendly way of travel to reach your destination. However, you can be a ‘greener’ tourist by eschewing environmentally unfriendly means of transportation once you reach the place.
Some ways to do this include:
- Choose walking tours instead of bus tours.
Strawberry Tours is an agency that will provide you with a tour of Madrid and a variety of other popular tourist destinations. These activities will be not only eco-friendly but also free and you can ask the guide about the matters of the environment in the place you visit.
- Rent bicycles for longer trips.
Every major tourist destination has multiple bike rentals. You can usually find them right near the most popular attractions. Riding a bike through the new city will not only help you cut down on carbon emissions but also give you a good workout.
- Use ‘greener’ transportation when you can.
When you call for a taxi, find out if you can get an electric car or a hybrid. For public transport, research the most eco-friendly options in the area. For example, in Delhi it would be Delhi Metro and in Madrid you get ‘green buses’. Every city finds its own ways to reduce carbon emissions from public transport systems and you can learn a lot simply by researching the options that exist today.
3. Support local environmental organizations or conservation areas
When researching your destination, take time to find out what local environmental organizations are and if there are any conservation areas nearby. Depending on your time and budget decide what you can do to support them during your trip.
To be an eco-friendly tourist you have to do things that benefit the environment, and these range from a donation to spending one night helping clean a local park. If you are hard pressed for time, money, or simply aren’t able to find a suitable organization nearby, you can help the local nature conservation by simply cleaning after yourself when you go on a hike.
4. Reduce your garbage
Reuse and recycle everything you can while on your trip. In fact, research what recycling programs are offered by the destination and plan to use all of them. You also should pack reusable silverware, cloth napkins, and other small things that can prevent you from adding to the tons of disposables buried in landfills.
You can usually recycle beverage containers and sometimes even get a refund for doing this. You also should forego ‘to-go’ containers even when eating from street food stalls as they can’t be recycled efficiently.
Remember, to be an eco-friendly tourist you simply have to make an effort and do every task in the least environmentally-damaging manner.