Eco-Tourism: How to Be a “Green” Traveler



Ecotourism has been around since the 1980s, but is getting more and more attention with the modern push towards being green and conservative. There are dozens of companies you can use to book an entire trip based on eco-friendliness, though there are ways to be a “green” traveler on your own. Follow these tips to be a globally and environmentally conscious traveler:

1. Reduce your contribution to carbon emissions.
Carbon emissions are destroying the planet, so do what you can to reduce them. Take direct flights whenever possible and avoid domestic/internal trips. Walk or bike through cities instead of taking taxis or renting a car, or use public transportation and carpools.

2. Buy from locals whenever possible.
Supporting local economies is a key aspect of promoting a green world. Instead of souvenir shopping at tourist traps, check out local markets for beautiful handmade goods. You can also get fresh foods from local markets, which often tastes much better than commercially produced. In addition, instead of working with high-end travel agencies look into hiring local guides or participating in a home-stay.

3. Respect your destination’s culture.
You’re traveling to learn about another place, which means engaging in what’s important to that culture. Learn a little bit of the language, chat with locals, and be mindful of holy places and gestures of courtesy. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution. Do your research ahead of time to avoid any embarrassing faux pas.

4. Pack light.
When you take less stuff with you, less energy is used transporting it. If possible, try to fit your belongings into one bag you can carry yourself. Do your best not to use wasteful products, such as plastic trash bags and packaging, which end up in the local trash collections. Carry a reusable water bottle if you’re somewhere you don’t need to buy bottled water. You can even use digital guidebooks and resources on your mobile devices instead of buying hard copies.

5. Participate in environment-friendly activities.
Check out local past-times and free activities in your destination, which usually have a much lower environmental impact than standard tourist traps. You can check out local architecture and free museums, or even religious services. Just make sure you’re appropriately dressed and follow custom so as not to offend anyone.

6. Volunteer.
One of the best things a traveler can do to support eco initiatives at his/her destination is to volunteer time and effort to a good cause. Whether you help with nature or wildlife conservation, the local economy, healthcare or literacy, or other charities, you support and promote the principles of ecotourism. Just do your research ahead of time and remember to stay safe!

Use reusable shopping bags wherever possible.

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