What does a really responsible traveller do? Respect!
The sustainable travel industry has lots of buzzwords and jargon it loves to use - but what do they really mean? Sophie Foreman helps breakdown the confusion.
Tread lightly. Low impact. Mindful travel. Leave only footprints. All phrases you've probably heard a million times over, whether you're an old hand at this responsible travel business or not. Behind all those expressions are the same sentiments - respect. Respect for nature, respect for people and respect for what was there before you arrived. So how do you make sure that you've left something undisturbed by your travels or in an even better condition?
Support businesses who care
There are so many wonderful accommodations, tour companies and restaurants who are making the world a better place. Our job at Re-CreationWORLD is to seek them out so it's easier for you to support them on your next adventure. We look for businesses that are owned by locals, so the tourism dollar goes straight back into the local economy, that help you experience that area of the world in an authentic way (whether that's food, culture or people) and who are actively trying to rejuvenate the world around them (whether that's by being sustainable in their environmental practices, protecting nature or helping the community).
Respect local guidelines
If you're visiting a national park in any country, they'll have guidelines to help you best protect the wildlife and nature. It only takes a few minutes to research, and often you'll discover something new about the history or plantlife you'll be seeing. For example, if you're visiting any of the national parks in Canada, Parks Canada provide some really handy information on minimising your envinronmental impact, and dealing with animals you might not be familiar with. If I hadn't done my research before hand, I wouldn't have had a clue how to deal with a bear if I stumbled upon one!
The things you wouldn't think about
There are lots of micro-impacts we have on the environment that we might not even be aware of. Did you know, the type of suncream you use can negatively affect marine life when you go swimming or snorkeling? There's research to suggest that Oxybenzone, found in many of our sunscreens and skincare, has contributed towards to demise of The Great Barrier Reef. Luckily there are lots of reef-friendly alternatives to fill your washbag with.
Don't pick the flowers
...or take anything out of its natural environment as a souvenir. Seashells, flowers, coral are all part of a balanced ecosystem where every element works to support the others. And, as my Mum always said: if everyone picked them, there would be none left. Some councils and local parks are ok with foraging mushrooms, fruit, weeds and plants for personal consumption, but make sure to check their guidelines before you do.
Leave it better than you did before
You've probably heard the mantra 'pack out what you pack in', meaning make sure you take home anything you brought with you. How about going beyond the prevention of environmental damage, and towards restoration? Whether through accident, or laziness, so much of our countryside is littered with rubbish leftover from picnics or washed up on shore. Not only does this tarnish the natural beauty of the area, but it can be really damaging to wildlife. In Canada, human litter is seriously dangerous, resulting in bears associating the smell of humans with a potential food source, and encouraging them to venture closer to towns and groups in search of more food. Even organics, such as banana peels, aren't safe to leave to decompose. Next time you go on a hike or a beach walk, pack a carrier bag and do a spontaneous litter pick and you wander along. You'll leave the area looking prettier and better off from your visit.