7 TIPS FOR AN ETHICAL AND ECO-FRIENDLY TRIP
Sustainable travel has become a major buzzword, and we couldn’t be more excited. Also called ecotourism, sustainable tourism is all about traveling responsibly and mindfully. Trips are based around respect, immersion, and minimal carbon footprints, differing greatly from mass tourism.
We at Simple Switch want to encourage the spread of responsible ecotourism and eco travel. Before you jet off to your next destination, check out these tips for a more eco-friendly travel experience! Focus on these conscious, mindful points and you’ll be a pro ecotourist in no time.
Avoid International Travel:
We understand this is hard to ask; there are so many warm beaches, ancient ruins, and rolling landscapes to experience. But air travel spews about 1 gigaton of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. That’s pollution worth avoiding. Try substituting your international trip for a local adventure. It’s rare that we experience our native city, state or country with a tourist's eyes! You’ll be surprised by the adventures you’ll find.
Visit Ethical Countries:
In our last article “Ecotourism: the Best Sustainable Destinations and Travel Companies”, we mention a few of the top sustainable and ethical countries to visit, all of which fall high on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The EPI is a rigorous ranking system that evaluates all 180 countries on their environmental impact and conservation efforts on a governmental level. It’s a great way to understand which countries to support with your tourism. Try your best to avoid countries that don’t protect their natural land, native species, or local people and resources.
Pack Eco-friendly and Minimal:
Here are some helpful packing tips:
- Unpackage everything before your trip to ensure proper disposal of waste
- Pack minimally: bring only what you need
- Bring a reusable water bottle, straw, batteries and snack bags.
- Invest in a portable water purifier from a company like LifeStraw, Sawyer, or Katadyn while traveling in developing countries.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint:
Companies like TripZero, Carbon Fund, and Terrapass all work to offset the carbon emissions of your trip. For a small fee, they will fund sustainable projects like reforestation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. It goes a long way towards carbon-neutral air travel!
Get Creative with Transportation:
It’s estimated that cars contribute one-third of the air pollution in the US. Instead of renting a car or taking a taxi on your trip, try to participate in more sustainable means of transportation. Walk to your destination, use local transit (if it’s safe), or use a bicycle. These are awesome ways to experience different parts of your destination and encourage slow travel.
Support Ethical, Sustainable Tour Operators and Volunteer Opportunities:
Before jumping into a tour, do your research.
- Does this company have sustainable values?
- Do they interact with animals and locals in a respectful way?
- Immerse you in the local culture and local community?
- OR are they just looking for a cash grab through means of exploitation?
The same goes for volunteering: Lots of volunteer agencies exploit local children and orphans for their benefit. Do your research before applying for any volunteer position. Check out our article “Ecotourism: the Best Sustainable Destinations and Travel Companies” for some great ethical companies.
Leave No Trace
Questionable methods of disposal are incredibly common in developing countries, so it’s important that you do your part and use as little single-use plastic as possible. It often ends up on roads, ditches, and natural landscapes. If you do use single-use products, try to keep them with you until you can dispose of them properly. Every destination should be left exactly as it was when you arrived (if not cleaner!)
The world is so beautiful and diverse. It’s up to us to ensure this beauty remains intact for future generations to enjoy. Untouched, natural landscapes, indigenous cultures, endangered wildlife, and local communities deserve immense respect as we observe and learn about them. Keep these tips in mind for your next adventure, you ecotourist you!