Eco-travel. Does your holiday harm the environment?
Eco-friendly travel is primarily about leaving no traces when traveling. This applies mainly to the natural environment, but not only. Respecting different cultures, languages, respecting other customs and attempting to understand foreign art also counts as eco-traveling. In my understanding, it is not enough to not litter on the street or to stomp the national parks. When visiting other countries and cities, we should not impose ourselves as tourists, because the fact that we paid for holidays does not mean that everything is due to us. If, however, we travel with humility, respect and curiosity, foreign places will open unforgettable experiences for us.
I will begin the theme of ecological travel from things that tourists should not do as tourists. Not all of them may seem obvious at first glance. Many people do not even realize that their actions contribute to environmental pollution or animal suffering, so it is important to make others aware and to serve as a good example. How to make sure that you do not leave any harmful traces behind when you leave?
WHAT NOT TO DO?
I. DON’T GO FOR ATTRACTIONS USING ANIMALS
A photo with a camel, an elephant ride or swimming with dolphins may seem like an unforgettable experience and an original holiday souvenir, but not everyone realizes that behind seemingly indifferent or "happy" animals, there is huge suffering and life in captivity. Regardless of how good the animal appears, how bows are happily bowed to, it certainly does not stay with people and does not make tricks of their own choice. Therefore, the best thing you can do for such an animal is not to support this type of attraction.
II. SOUVENIRS AND TALISMANS
Since we avoid attractions with live animals, it would certainly be nice to bring a unique souvenir or a lucky holiday talisman? Yes, you have to be aware of what the souvenir was made of. It is worth asking the seller about the composition of the product, if we are not sure about it, and above all, avoid all kinds of talismans made of animal parts or bones. Attention should also be paid to customs regulations, which often prohibit the transport of such materials.
On holidays, more often than in other circumstances, we try new things and there is nothing wrong with this, as long as our actions have no negative impact on others. Some places offer very exotic dishes that we could not try anywhere else. We can therefore not be aware of how the ingredients for such dishes are obtained. It is enough to do a little research before or during the trip, so as not to contribute to the destruction of the environment (eg whale steak) or to support illegal business (eg shark fin soup). Probably choose local products of vegetable origin, but more about it I write below.
IV. CHECKING OFF ANOTHER PLACES
Traveling in recent years has become very easily accessible and more and more people use it. Airline tickets can be purchased for less than PLN 100 each way (more information about finding cheap flights can be found HERE)! I think it is fantastic, because the deliberate discovery of the world broadens horizons, teaches humility, arouses curiosity and allows to fulfill dreams. What may be worrying, however, is to "count" successive destinations just to be able to show off your friends on Instagram, or confirm your travel authenticity. I think that it is not the number of places visited that testifies to the value of the transmitted content, so instead of gaining new countries, it is better to travel in the name of the idea of slow travel.
WHAT TO DO?
I. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Traveling is in the fourth place in the list of the most polluting air activities. This is mainly related to transport and emission of carbon dioxide. As it is not difficult to guess, the largest amount of it is emitted by planes, followed by cars, which is why the most ecological means of transport is public, that is, trains, trams, metro and buses. If you have the option, try to move with them. If you rent a car, travel more people, or take hitchhikers with you! With caution, of course ...;)
II. USE REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
Reducing plastic on the go is one of the simplest steps you can take right now! First, invest in a water bottle. I recommend those from Ragsy: they are light, they keep the temperature (both hot and cold, so they can be used as a thermos), do not penetrate the fragrance and look nice. Thanks to this bottle you will not have to buy water at the airport or during holidays, which will save you money. Just make sure that tap water in a given place is suitable for drinking. If not, you can always ask for water from the dispatcher, or for boiling and chilling eg at breakfast in a hotel or guesthouse. There are many other accessories to reduce the consumption of plastic, such as reusable straws (metal or bamboo), bamboo cups, cutlery, etc. Most of these products weigh little, and can significantly affect the quality of your eco-travel.
III. EAT LOCAL PRODUCTS
Eat local products in local restaurants. Try to avoid chains that serve the same artificial food anywhere in the world. It has nothing to do with discovering new flavors or supporting local tourism. Look for places where natives feed and ask for the best dishes of the region. Be open and talk with people, and they will be happy to recommend the best places in the area. Go to the city market to see (and try) what seasonal vegetables and fruits are available, or, for example, buy fresh products from a roadside vendor.
IV. TRAVEL LOCALLY
I am an advocate of local travel, which is why I created, among other things, a series of entries Alternatively through Poland, in which I convince and recommend extraordinary places ... in Poland. Local travel does not have to be limited to your city and nearby villages. Perhaps you are leaving to another continent, where you will spend a week in your region and only locally you will be traveling (a) locally? It is important to support local tourism, and you can do it using, for example, tourist information or private travel agencies that offer attractions in the region.
Finally, I would like to recommend you a wonderful travel book "A fortune teller told me", an Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani, who specializes in the Asian continent. It tells the story of events one year in the life of the author, when he decided not to fly by plane, only to travel by sea or land. It's great to read, and by the way, he learns about the political and economic situation of Asian countries at the time and how the countries have changed in terms of tourism. The author shows the problem of globalization, which affects the disappearance of culture and destruction of the natural environment. This is not a reading that is typical of ecological travel, but it indirectly refers to it and really reads it very well!