Are you looking forward to your upcoming vacation?! After working hard all year it is time for some YOU time. You earned it! I am sure you have recently heard the term, ecotourism and may have wondered, what exactly that is. Ecotourism is described by dictionary.com as “tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.” Through ecotourism, the thoughtful traveler can enjoy the sights of undisturbed natural areas while vacationing. It is important to remain eco-friendly during your time away from home to help keep these natural habitats preserved. Below, we have listed 5 simple ways you can have fun and go green while on your vacation.
1. Bamboo Straws
While you’re eating out or drinking poolside, skip the plastic straw. Plastic straws have been introduced into the ocean at record high levels. The unnecessary plastic utensil is used for merely 10 minutes of your day but poses as an environmental threat to sea life. Often straws are found by the coastline during ocean cleanup efforts during peak vacationing dates. By removing the use of straws, microplastics are prevented from polluting the ocean. A green alternative would be to use a reusable or a compostable straw. Let’s all try to go green and ditch the straw.
2. Biodegradable Sunscreen
So, it’s your first beach day while on vacation. You want to avoid getting a nasty sunburn, so you grab your sunscreen. Without hesitation, you apply a layer and go to catch a wave. Unknowingly tons of chemicals are being introduced into the ocean from the use of sunscreen. The chemicals associated with the product cause the decay of coral reefs. Sunblock protects the skin from harmful rays but has an inverse effect on coral. The defense mechanisms biologically ingrained into the DNA of coral is weakened and hurts the reproduction and growth process of the reefs. To limit the chemicals introduced into the ocean during your vacation avoid applying sunblock before entering the water or use a homemade substitute. Organic sunblock is easy to make, and recipes can be found online. There are now several organic sunblocks available as well for those of us who are not apt to DIY. By avoiding the transfer of harmful chemicals in the ocean you can enjoy time at the beach while practicing low- impact visitor behavior.
While touring it is important to continue to recycle. Recycling is an effective way to reduce the amount of plastic that makes its way to the ocean and is a great practice for an eco-friendly tourist. The conservation of materials promotes a sustainable environment. Recycling reduces the number of raw materials used from deforestation and preserves the natural habitat of many animals. Finding recycling units may be difficult depending on the destination of your vacation. A tip before traveling is to identify the local recycling efforts of the destination and the system of trash collection. Once you have an understanding it will make staying eco-friendly a lot easier once you arrive. Participating in the local communities efforts is key to being a responsible traveler.
4. Energy Conservation
Energy is constantly being wasted at resorts and hotels. The average person will use more energy on vacation than they will at home. To produce electricity, fossil fuels are constantly being burned releasing greenhouse gases into the environment. Greenhouse gases are the cause for the depletion of the ozone layer causing a rise in global temperature. Global warming leads to an increase in water temperature and rising sea levels. This may not seem like a threat to an amazing vacation, but minor changes within the ocean environment can cause the environment to be uninhabitable. To prevent harmful effects to the ocean conserve the energy you use while vacationing. Reducing your carbon footprint is as simple as turning off the lights and unplug appliances, not in use. By conserving energy while on vacation the amount of fossil fuels needed to power the hotel is reduced.
5. Delicacy & Dining
All cultures are different, and these differences make each destination special. While on vacation you may be tempted to try new and exciting food. Before you order the delicacies on the menu do your research. Find out what goes into putting together that exotic dish on the menu. Inhumane practices of obtaining the ingredients may be used into making such dishes. These practices can include over-fishing and hunting for exotic and rare animals. Inhuman practices lead to the extinction of many exotic animals. A list of endangered, vulnerable, and threatened animals can be found online at Mother Nature Network. Removing the demand for dishes that are made inhumanly can protect the species that make getaway vacations special.
Tourism can have a major impact on the environment and the ecosystem associated with the destination. Remaining eco-friendly while on vacation will help reduce the impact that tourism has on the environment. These tips will ensure that the wonderful sites and atmosphere you enjoy will be there the next time you plan to visit. To learn more information about environmental issues and how you can help visit the Environmental Defense Fund at edf.org.