At home, we can be quite good concerning our sustainable practices. We have our go-to organic grocery shop, we recycle and we walk instead of going by car. While travelling, being sustainable can be more of a challenge. Being conscious is the key.
Sustainability and consciousness
Firstly, there is a difference between sustainable travelling and conscious travelling. The aim of travelling sustainably is to give back to the country you are visiting. This consists of three aspects: the environment, the community and the national or local economy.
Concerning the environmental aspect, it’s all about awareness and informing yourself. Be aware of the impact you have on the environment. You can do research before going on holiday or source eco-tourism activities locally. Look at activities that don’t require a lot of CO2 emissions such as kayaking, mountain biking or hiking. Another good thing about these activities is that they are usually based in nature. When you go with a local knowledgeable guide, they can inform you about the safety rules and teach you about the places you visit. From knowledge comes appreciation and from appreciation comes preservation.
In some countries, especially in the third world, sustainability is often not a well-developed aspect yet. That’s where the term conscious travelling comes in. It means you are being aware of your impact and you are being responsible about it. It might be hard to get organic produce or to go on eco-tourism outings but you could go to a local farmers’ market. This way, you get local produce and you are supporting the local economy.
While looking for eco-tourism or eco-lodges, be aware that going green has become somewhat of a marketing tool these days. Recycling and having the label eco-lodge doesn’t insure overall sustainability.
When you go to a big resort, the money you pay often ends up with foreign investors instead of the local community. Go with small establishments or guesthouses. The money you pay them is providing a family with food and not getting some CEO a third car. In addition, when you go with small establishments you help distribute revenue on a local level; it actually benefits the country you are visiting.
Preparing to travel consciously can be a challenge if you don’t have all the information. That is why initiatives such as Mauritius Conscious are being set up. Mauritius Conscious is a Mauritian travel company that specializes in providing sustainable travel experiences. It makes it clear and reliable for tourists where to go and what to do if they wish to travel consciously. All partners have to go through a sustainability assessment in order secure their practices are actually taking into account the environmental impacts as well as the impact on the community and the economy.
Like Mauritius Conscious, there are many more travel companies out there that aim to support conscious travelling worldwide. Doing a little research on your country of choice will help you create a conscious holiday. It will reduce your environmental impact, benefit the the people around you and make your trip that much more authentic.
Eva van der Graaf is a 23-year-old Dutchie who grew up in Africa She is a traveler, loves animals, wildlife and nature. Currently studying animal science in The Netherlands and working as a freelance journalist for her own company WritingBy.