How To Choose an Eco-Friendly Tour or Activity
I know you want to discover new places and be fascinated by the wonders of the world, but you don’t want to do that at the expense of sustainability and jeopardizing the future of this planet, so how can you tell if your holiday is green or greenwash? In this post, we will explore together some considerations and steps you can take to make sure you reduce your impact as much as possible. This is not an easy job, but like any change you make in your life, once you incorporate this modus operandi in your routine, it starts becoming much easier.
It’s worth keeping these guidelines in mind as you make decisions on your travels.
Read their values
One of the ways in which you can find green tour operators is by assessing their environmental policies. Companies that are keen on sustainability often have a statement of their environmental policy on their websites so before committing to a tour, look for that information, if you don’t see it, then ask and if the answers are vague, you know you’re in the wrong place.
Don’t assume green words are the real deal
Many operators, as well as hotels or restaurants, use green buzzwords to attract more customers but many times these words are just vague nouns that don’t really mean anything. For example, natural, chemical-free, eco-adventure sound nice but mean almost nothing. In parts of Asia, ‘eco’ is used as a synonym for ‘outdoor’, so an ‘eco-park’ might be nothing other than a golf course or amusement park.
Do your research
If you’re not sure about a tour operator, it’s important that you do your research before booking. For example, you can search for reviews on TripAdvisor, Google, or any other site of your preference; and especially look for negative reviews where you can read what are the concerns of people who previously took the tour. If you don’t have access to a computer the moment you’re planning to book, you can ask the person selling the tour for their green policies. Some initial questions you can ask are:
• What kind of certification do you have? — if they’re working on one, they will tell you exactly which one. If they’re not, they will go around in circles and won’t answer your question.
• How are you tracking your impact? — with this question, they could tell you what policies they’re implementing to reduce their impact in the environment
• How’s your relationship with the community? — if they talk ill about the community, it’s a red flag.
• Are you supporting any local initiatives of conservation? — if they’re truly committed, they will likely know of local organizations (if not themselves) that have initiatives in place for conservation, regeneration and/or sustainability.
Avoid overcrowded places and tours
I remember visiting Kho Phi Phi’s Maya Bay beach without knowing I was heading to the place where the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was shot. The moment I arrived, I panicked. There were SO MANY people taking selfies. One after another Instagramer striking a pose for their Instagram followers and the beach was an absolute mess. Unknowingly, this movie basically destroyed a pristine beach, so much so that the Thai government at some point implemented certain rules for visitors but it was still the Wild Wild West. This anecdote is to ask you to PLEASE restrain yourselves from these types of places. FORGET about replicating the same Instagram photo that everyone else in the world has and find yourself other spots that are yours. This insanity has been repeated in many places and it must stop now.
Don’t use geotags
Related to the point above, when you find a place still untouched by the tourist crowds where locals live and thrive, do not use geotags, meaning, don’t add the exact location of where you are for others to discover. Let pristine place stay pristine, we need more of those.
Real animal welfare or just make me feel good?
In the past few years, riding an elephant has gone from being a common Asian holiday photo-op to a travel taboo. Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple was shut down in 2016, putting an end to an era of tourists posing with maltreated tigers. Animal sanctuaries are less clear-cut. Supposedly they’re refuges for wounded or rescued animals, and many do excellent work. But not all of them make the cut. If you can touch, hold, hug, photograph with animals that normally flee at the sigh of a human, or are considered dangerous in the wild, ask questions. These are not normal behaviors for these animals so don’t put your dollars in these types of places.
These are just a few tips but the important lesson here is to do your research. Don’t put your money just on anything you see, make sure that as a consumer you’re making conscious decisions to reduce your impact and help leave this planet better than you found it.
Inspired in LoveExploring.