6 Habits of a Responsible Traveller
Article by Mary Picard
Chances are, if you’re reading this website it is because you travel, you’re passionate about animals and nature and you realize that our last wild places are under threat from pollution and overuse. By adopting a few simple habits, you can help protect the places we love the most.
1. Carbon offset your journey.
Many airlines devote time and resources into carefully vetting environmental projects that you can support when you fly. When you buy your plane ticket you are oftentimes asked if you want to opt into their carbon offset scheme. It only adds a few dollars to your journey and goes to a carefully managed project designed to help stabilise climate change. For more information, check out our article on Carbon Offsetting.
2. Don’t support animal cruelty.
Once you are on the ground, stay away from businesses, often advertised as parks, sanctuaries or orphanages that take animals out of their natural environment. They often brutally separate babies from their mothers and keep animals caged or chained in inhumane conditionals. Examples of this include roadside zoos, elephant orphanages, tiger sanctuaries and aquarium pens where you can swim with dolphins.
If you really want to visit animal “sanctuaries” investigate them online first and look for official recognition from known conservation organizations; but as a rule of thumb stay away from these places. If you want to see wild animals go to national parks and pay the park fees. Your money will legitimately go towards protecting the wild animals you love in the habitat where they live. If you come across businesses that abuse animals let other people know via social media and website reviews.
An elephant's art education is a cruel one. They suffer through months of abuse, a sharp metal bull hook or nail dug into their ear to teach them to hold a paint brush and draw lines. There is pain behind their pretty pictures.
3. Don't eat bush meat. Ever.
It puts stress on wild environments and encourages poaching networks. Entire species are being wiped out because of this practice. Be mindful too of endangered marine life – our appetites for wild food are doing great damage to the places we love. WWF has the most comprehensive list of sustainable seafood guides for different countries. Click the link below to find out you should be eating on your next trip and even at home.
4. Choose your souvenirs and gifts carefully.
According to conservation organizations like the WWF, avoid any gifts, souvenirs, food or medicines that are made from plants, sea life or animals regardless if you buy or find them yourself. The reason for this is two-fold: products taken from the wild put stress on, or even endanger, natural ecosystems and encourage poaching networks. Even bringing back seeds, foods or plants can introduce pests and diseases into the areas where you live, damaging threatening local foods and nature around your home. A better idea is to buy locally made art, crafts, clothing and toys in the place you are visiting– you’ll be supporting the local artisans and an economy that values tourist dollars. The WWF has an awesome webspace devoted to local sustainable laws and practices by country. Its totally worth checking out before you go, just click the link below.
5. Leave no trace
Never litter and always leave the place you are visiting as if you had never been there. Carry your trash out with you – even fruit peels and used tissue. If you have enjoyed a pristine environment, leave it that way for the next person. It’s a simple gift we all benefit from. Even better, if you have or find an empty carrier bag, take a few minutes to collect plastic bottles and other waste on your way back and dispose of it properly.
Every beach should be this pristine.
6. Remember your green basics.
Bring your own reusable water bottle
Walk or ride a bike whenever you can.
Avoid single-use plastic, like water bottles, carrier bags and drinking straws!
When leaving your room, turn off the lights and minimize the AC or heat settings
Leave a note on your pillow and sheets reminding hotel staff not to change them (unless the truly need it)
Eat less meat – animal agriculture is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. By eating less meat from time to time we collectively make a big impact on CO2 pollution.
There you have it. 6 steps you can take to help the planet. Its simple stuff: Be nice to animals (and people), don’t litter, do some online research about local conservation concerns and try to insure that your holiday spending goes towards safeguarding national parks and the animals that live in them.
Walk quietly and leave a small footprint.