Travel has taken over oil as the biggest industry of this generation. No wonder tourism is changing the environment fast in a major way. While it has certain positive impacts on social, economic and environmental aspects, the toll particularly on the environment are undeniable. Pollution, depletion of resources, changing landscapes with infrastructures, increased carbon footprints, etc. – are the negative impacts worth noting. Global warming leading to climate change are the world’s greatest concerns.
As a response, the avid travelers and the industry are looking at more responsible ways to travel – green travel, sustainable travel and responsible travel are among such responses. Another word you want to bring into your lexicon is “ethical travel.” It is simply about “mindful travel,” but the implication, programs and benefits are far-reaching. If you want to understand more about it and what destinations are ranking high, check out Ethical Travel – “What it Means, and Where to Go” by Jeff Greenwald and Christy Hoover of EthicalTraveler.org and posted in Novinite.com.
“… While Ethical Traveler sees all travel as a potentially positive force, we’d like to see people step off the beaten path. Many developing countries, in their efforts to woo travelers, are making noble attempts to preserve their natural assets, create a user-friendly infrastructure, and build an economy where their citizens share the benefits of tourist revenue. By bringing our commerce to such places we encourage their efforts, and inspire neighboring countries to support these values as well.”
In 2008, Ethical Traveler announced their list of The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations, namely: Argentina, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Namibia, Nicaragua, and South Africa.
In 2010, the U.S. – based Ethical Traveler came up with its top ten list that included, Argentina, Belize, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Namibia, Poland, Seychelles, South Africa, and Suriname.
The 2014 list includes the following destinations in its 10 Best Ethical Destinations: The Bahamas, Barbados, Cape Verde, Chile, Dominica, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, and
The 2015 list has the following winners Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominica, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.
The list gives you information on where to go and ideas about what to do, but when the destination you want to visit is not included in the list, you can stick to the concept of “mindful travel” with its good or ethical practices. Who can deny you the chance to visit the Eiffel Tower when it is every traveler’s dream to see it in person? What you can be happy about is the fact that many places around the world are working their way to be an ethical destination. For instance, read about how Jennifer Champagne’s Eiffel Tower Goes Green with Two Wind Turbines for Paste Magazine – Travel Section.
“The famous Parisian monument is joining the green revolution with the installation of two wind turbines.
Partnering with Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) and UGE International Ltd., the tower’s ecological upgrades evolve out of the City of Paris Climate Plan as a way for the tower to reduce its carbon footprint.
The two UGE VisionAIR5 wind turbines … produce up to 10,000kWh of electricity, which is enough to power the first floor of the monument…
As well as the turbines, the ecological additions include LED lighting, 10m2 of solar panels on the visitors’ pavilions and a rainwater collection system that provides flushing water for the structure’s toilets.”
When The Cost Comes at Premium…
When the ethical/green/sustainable/responsible options come at a premium, check out the suggestions offered by Hope Hardini in her article How to Save Money with Eco-friendly Travel posted in Ethical Travel – Ethical Journeys Section.
“Although increasing numbers of hotels, resorts and tour companies support sustainable practices, these “green” options often come at a premium. As a result, travelers sometimes feel as though they must choose between their environmental consciousness and their budgets. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Making simple choices to go green while traveling may in fact have the added bonus of saving you money on your trip.”
The article suggests that you walk or bike around to explore destinations when not pressed for time; both can reduce your carbon footprint and can offset what you caused when you took the plane. A good alternative when local tours entail long distances is using the local public transport; what an exciting way to meet the locals. What about shirking from expensive hotels? Stay on eco-lodges or go camping. For food, head to the local market whenever possible; it will not only be culturally enriching and cheap, that’s the best way to taste authentic cuisines. And because drinking safe water can’t be left to risky chances, bring a water bottle, water purifier or filter you can reuse.
It isn’t really difficult to travel responsibly. These suggested destinations are good ways to enjoy travel sans luxury, but if you are really committed to saving the planet from unnecessary impact, you can do it wherever you may opt to go. Ethical travel is after all ‘mindfiul travel,” something you can do anywhere and everywhere. Once you choose to be an ethical traveler, you may be amazed at how easy it is to save dough when you start embracing inexpensive and healthy options.