Written By: Georgia Carter
Exploring the world is a dream many of us hold. We have the whole world practically at our fingertips, and we’re longing to reach the extended hand of adventure and welcome its embrace. But travelling can take a hefty toll on the environment.
From plane rides to single-use plastics, tourism can be littered in environmental damage. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. While we will still be taking planes to reach our desired destination, there are various habits and behaviours we can adopt to mitigate the dangerous impact travelling can have.
Caption: While travelling is a lifeforce for most of us, the negative effects of certain actions harms the very environment we seek to immerse ourselves in.
Credit: Niklas Weiss, Unsplash
What is sustainable travel and ecotourism?Sustainable travel can be simply defined as making simple choices to lessen your environmental impact. It's finding ways where travel and tourism can be maintained without harming natural and cultural environments.
Ecotourism is the encouragement of environmental preservation, where wanders and travel-related businesses and services aim to minimise the negative impacts of tourism and instead adopt healthier standards of sustainability within the tourism trade.
Modes of transport and their carbon emissionsUnfortunately, travelling requires various modes of transport - and transportation contributes to one fifth of the global carbon emission. While the world will continue to rely on transportation, and until we glean significant sustainable evolution in the field, we all need to do our best to travel mindfully.
Caption: Planes are among the worst forms of transportation in terms of carbon offset.
Credit: Ken Yam, Unsplash
Below are the different carbon offsets produced by each mode of transport:
How to lessen your carbon emissions when travellingWhen it comes to your personal carbon offset in terms of transportation, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your emissions.
Below is a list of 5 actions you can implement when travelling that will help decrease your carbon offset:
Caption: Riding a bike is one of the most eco-friendly modes of transport, and it helps you better witness, immerse, and understand the new destination.
Credit: Netbike, Unsplash
What is eco-accommodation?24% of all carbon dioxide generated from tourism comes from accommodation. This transpires through the overuse of water, electricity, and plastic.
Eco accommodation refers to a place holding a strong commitment to mitigate harmful practices on the environment. It’s an airbnb that runs off solar power, a bed and breakfast that uses homegrown, organic produce, and a hotel that encourages recycling.
Caption: Eco accommodation is defined as a space that’s dedicated to maintaining the health of the environment.
Credit: Jared Rice, Unsplash
Here are a few ways you can check if your chosen accommodation is an eco-friendly option:
An estimated 40% of all carbon emissions by 2050 will be caused by tourism. While travelling is almost essential to many of us, it’s important to remain mindful of your actions and shift your focus on maintaining a sustainable lifestyle even while abroad.
12 tips for environmentally friendly travel
Caption: Camping is by far one of the best and most thrilling ways to experience a new destination. It’s also the most affordable and healthiest form of accommodation for the environment.
Credit: Pars Sahin, Unsplash
By Georgia Carter
The concrete jungle is where most of us dwell. In the confines of cities, between the margins of towering buildings and congested streets, many of us find ourselves exploring the man-made and inorganic realms of life.
Over half of the world’s human population lives in cities. While society deems this a normality, it’s almost against our natural ways to be so disconnected from the natural environments that surround us.
Caption: Over half of the entire globe’s human population inhabits cities.
Connecting, immersing, and simply being around nature has myriad benefits. From physical and health aspects to mental and spiritual impacts, nature not only nurtures us but helps us thrive.
In fact, nature is ESSENTIAL to our existence.
The basic and bare necessities we require to simply survive all come from nature. We retrieve food from the Earth, water from the streams, and oxygen from the trees. Without these three vital components, life would not exist. Nature curates the trifecta of survival.
Caption: The Earth provides us with a seemingly unlimited supply of food and soil from which we can grow our own.
Source: Tania Malrechauf, Unsplash
Nature forms the foundation of our society. Agriculture, consumerism, materials, energy - everything we need for our machine of societal existence to continue turning its cogs heavily relies on the natural environments surrounding us and what these verdant landscapes provide in abundance.
We need soil to grow our crops, we need bees to pollinate plants and create a haven of diversity, and we need water to nourish not only the land but our very cells that craft the essence of our physical being.
Caption: A bee seeks hungrily for some sweet nectar. Bees are among the world’s most significant pollinators.
Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
Venturing into nature, whether on an extended hike, taking a day trip to the park, or simply rooting your feet into your garden ground, is vital in creating a healthier lifestyle.
In young children, nature is another parent. It teaches without words, revives and encourages curiosity, and embraces each and every unique quality found within oneself. Children who spend time in nature tend to experience a healthier development, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and mentally.
Caption: The developmental growth of children is accelerated when they spend time outdoors, connecting with and learning from nature.
Source: Crema Joe, Unsplash
In terms of the chemical impacts nature has on our bodies, the benefits are paramount. Nature improves all five senses, reduces blood pressure, eases the pains of long-term illnesses, and improves one’s memory span. A connection to the Earth and spending time outdoors vastly improves one’s quality of life, provides cleaner air, reduces obesity, and alleviates mental fatigue.
While physical health allows us to flourish in the physical realm, mental health is just as important in helping us shine throughout our human experience. And, of course, nature bolsters our mental health in a number of ways too.
Wandering in a forest or taking a leisurely stroll on the beach reduces stress levels and invites peace, calm, clarity, and tranquility. Nature acts as a vehicle of inspiration, further influencing our actions, behaviour, and cognitive pathways for the better.
Caption: Wandering through the woods helps alleviate stress and improves mental health.
Source: Lukasz Szmigiel, Unsplash
In fact, nature is the greatest motivator, helping sculpt cultures, identities, and ways of being. It increases productivity, acts as a muse for all art forms, and connects people to the essence of their existence.
Nature has a profound effect on one’s mental state - so much so that hospital patients who have a view of nature heal 30% faster than those who don’t. Simply witnessing nature first hand has exponential positive effects on one’s mental disposition, paving the paths of success in every field of life.
Belonging - that is what a connection with nature is all about. We are all from the Earth, we all call this planet our sole home and lifegiver. We are actually just the universe experiencing itself. And since we are all one, all connected on the most basic of levels and existence, we feel right at home when we’re in the welcoming grasp of nature.
A connection with nature is a reconnection with our core. When immersing ourselves into a natural environment, we invite the intention of not only going within, but zooming out. We’re able to reflect on our lives and life as a whole, just like peering into a river and seeing not only our reflections, but what lies beneath the surface - a powerful force of something unknown but innate.
We as humans are constantly searching for the answers to questions we might not even be able to formulate. What are we doing here? What is reality? What is my purpose? While we don’t have these answers, and while we may never retrieve them, nature is the unspoken truth, the starting and ending point, the cycle of life incarnate.
However, nature is free and we, therefore, overexploit it. It gives to us because we are nature’s children - an extension of itself. It’s time we learned to appreciate it and help it thrive alongside our human evolution and progress.
Caption: Spending quality time in and exploring nature helps develop a healthy relationship to the world and existence itself.
Source: Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
At least you’re trying, right?
Well, yes... to an extent. While it is important to acknowledge the effort that we make to preserve the Earth, it is also extremely important to keep empowering ourselves to do more and to do better. The rate of human destruction upon Earth is not slowing despite our current efforts – which indicates that we are not doing nearly enough.
Environmental work, big or small, is not something that one should engage in to create an egocentric feeling of superiority. This attitude only creates divides and pushes ‘non-greenies’ further away. Environmental work must be done humbly, with joyful purpose and with cultural sensitivity – that is the cornerstone.
Besides engaging in the real work ourselves, it is extremely important to inspire others to take action as well. In order to make a real difference, we need to get lots of people doing their absolute best. One can do this by using an inclusive and empathetic attitude and tone when engaging in conversations about environmental awareness. Belittling and condescending others does the movement a total injustice by pushing questioning people further away. In fact, leading by example is the single most successful way to inspire others.
Once one’s ego is in check, it is important to look within and to improve on every aspect of one’s impact. Seemingly small things like refusing plastic straws have a huge impact, but should continue to be viewed as small acts and not focused upon as if it is all an individual can do. Refusing plastic straws and as much other single-use plastic as possible must become second nature, as must minimising the use of electricity and water, driving less, buying local, eating more plant-based and opting to buy second hand as much as is viable. Allowing these things to become a normal part of one’s life, and leaving no room for lapses, is a good example to others and gives one the space to focus on making bigger changes.
As consumers, we hold more power than we know. It is important to learn about the convoluted topic of environmental destruction so that we can make informed choices when buying.
Recycling plastic is a great start, but it is very flawed. Recycling does lessen the need for new plastic, but it requires energy, factories and machines. The biggest action to take is to drastically reduce our plastic consumption – refusing unnecessary single-use plastic like: plastic shopping bags, produce bags, straws, plastic cutlery and take-away containers needs to become commonplace to all consumers who can then focus on improving even further by working towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
We simply cannot afford to put our stomachs first anymore.
Food is a massive contributor to most consumers’ carbon footprints and the best ways to change this are: to eat far less animal products, to buy organic and beyond organic, and to support local producers.
The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, biodiversity loss and deforestation. Western consumers eat far too many animal products which degrade their health as well as the health of the Earth. Focusing on reducing animal product consumption is a must, as is looking for better, local, small farmer sources of animal products and fresh produce. Buying local reduces transportation-linked emissions and keeps small farmers going.
Making electricity and water saving practices second nature allows one to consider alternative energy sources and going off-grid. This wouldn’t be possible if one’s sole focus was on switching off lights and shaming others for failing to do so.
The world is in a major crisis and big companies and governments are not making nearly enough effort to mitigate it. As citizens of this planet, it is our duty and responsibility to do our utmost best to encourage others, to educate ourselves and to put mass pressure on governments and companies to implement necessary policy changes. If we rely on big industry and governments to do it for us, things will not improve and climate change will continue to worsen. We must grasp the magnitude of the situation.
It is up to the individual to bring back the care and reverence of the Earth that is necessary to save humanity.
Writeen by: Kelly Steenhuisen