April 22 is celebrated as Earth Day. And for those of us who love to travel, there’s a greater responsibility to protect the planet — after all, we travel to see the world. Green travel goes by many names: eco-tourism, eco-travel, sustainable tourism, responsible tourism. What it means is that the traveller leaves as small a carbon footprint as possible in the places through which they pass.With a few changes in the way we travel, all of us can contribute to a healthier environment. Travel bloggers share green travel tips that are easy to follow and are good for the conscience.
Cut plastic usage
“Carry re-usable water bottles, not the plastic ones. Discarded plastic leads to environmental hazards, and harms stray animals,” says Sahil Bhasin, co-founder of a travel group.Ditch plastic bags as well, and use paper and cloth bags that have a longer shelf life and are biodegradable. “Carry a cloth bag / oversized tote while shopping at holiday destinations to avoid plastic bags that may be used to carry the product,” says Aurvind Lama, founder of a travel company.
Leave something behind to aid the local communities. “Support locals in some way, e.g. by helping them set up water refilling systems to eliminate their dependence on plastic,” says travel blogger Rutavi Mehta.
Keep it clean
“Don’t litter or leave waste behind. Carry a garbage bag with you at all times and dispose of it at the closest dumpster or bin,” adds Bhasin. This is a good practice even when living at home. As far as possible, segregate dry waste (glass, clean paper or plastic, cans) and wet waste (food scraps). Do not, under any circumstances, toss used personal hygiene products here and there; be meticulous in how you dispose of them.
Avoid renting a car
Instead of driving a hired car when visiting a city, walk around or use public transport. “This helps reduce carbon emission and you can see hidden beaches and spots when you bicycle or walk around the destination,” adds Mehta. But you must keep off prohibited territories so that you do not harm the flora and fauna. “If you are hiking or trekking through nature trails, stay on marked trails so that you do not disturb the plants or small animals in the area,” says Kartik Bakshi, from a travel marketplace.
Check before buying souvenirs
When you return from your travels, you tend to bring back souvenirs, but be cautious not to buy products for which animals might have been harmed. “Make sure you do not buy things made from parts of endangered species, including animal hide, ivory, turtle shells or corals, since these are illegal,” says Bakshi.
Shop for locally made handicrafts
Assist communities with a sustainable livelihood for as long as you are there. “Buying local handicrafts helps in preserving the local culture for a longer period. Very often, it gives the local women an additional source of income,” says Mehta.
Don’t fan the flames
Backpacking trips often end with a warm woodfire, around which friends gather. You must be cautious of the embers when leaving the place. “When camping out, make sure you put out the fire completely before leaving; otherwise, even a small flame can lead to forest fires,” says Bhasin.
Staying with locals in homestays is a great way to learn about their culture. “When looking for accommodation, choose a place that uses green technologies, e.g. power-saving appliances. Also, do not leave fans, lights, air-conditioners on when you’re not in the room,” says Bhasin. “Ask your host if towels and bedsheets can be reused instead of being replaced every day,” adds Bakshi.
Started in America in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated all over the world. Every year, the day has a theme, and this year, the theme is Environmental and Climate Literacy.