Did you know that? On January 18th of this year the United Nations World Travel Organization declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainability. You may not have noticed. There does not seem to be much fanfare out there on this subject. Or maybe I am living with my head in the ground which is also likely. BUT other travel bloggers I follow seem to just be catching on as well, so I don’t feel so bad five months into the year.
So what is sustainable tourism? An oxymoron? Hmm… Seems that to be sustainable is to lessen your carbon footprint on the earth (among other things too). Travel is something that requires long hours in a plane, train, vehicle or boat. None of which reaches the list while talking about reducing ones carbon footprint. So how CAN travel be sustainable? You may already take part in sustainable travel/tourism. Very simply this means you opt to take your own water in a reuseable bottle, you choose to eat out a local restaurants instead of say a large chain, you take guided tours with locals, leave only footprints… overall you choose to support the community in which you are visiting. No brainer right?
Travel Massive talks about the “triple bottom line balance of the three pillars economic, social and environmental”. I think these three pillars are great to keep in the back of your mind while traveling, either internationally or domestically.
- Economic – remember to buy and shop locally. Support the community business owners and craftsmen and women in the area you are visiting. Your economic support is helping to provide jobs for people!
- Social – perhaps you are learning about an area and passing this information along. Whether that is information on National Parks or other countries, it is important to share your experiences and information with others. You know, the more you know and all. Maybe you had no idea that Sri Lanka is an amazing place to visit – there are tons of families flocking to vacation there. I had no idea. Now I do! I hope to visit one day and help support their economy!
- Environmental- This one can be hard on travelers since we have to use major transportation to get anywhere far. But you can balance this out by caring for the environment not just where you visit but where you live. Stop littering. Take re-usable bags with you to shop. Take extra bags to pick up trash when you are hiking or at the beach. Nothing drives me more insane than hiking in the mountains and finding someones snack trash on the trail. Now, maybe they dropped it, but still people. Be more careful. Use public transport, walk or bike wherever you are. These are all things we know anyway, because we all are ALREADY doing them, right? Second nature. No problem.
Often when I think about being sustainable I think about my actions at my home. I think about how I will care for my family when we are stationary again. I think about this a lot. Really though, I have plans for a green house already, and chicken coups and rabbit hutches and how I am going to sustainably care for these animals while raising food for my family. Just wait… the blog later next year is going to get good! Adventures in Sustainable Farming with Shenna. Ha! But seriously, when I read the headline about Sustainable Tourism I was a bit worried because I never thought of it in those terms. After doing a little reading I was happy to see we are already leading a pretty good sustainable tourist life. It can be hard with how many miles we have to travel for what we are doing but I hope that we are balancing out our travel hours with other actions that are making an impact. And I know that we are teaching Wyatt respect for traveling and how to care for the environment where ever we go. So this Sustainable Tourist idea will continue long after 2017 I am sure.
Perhaps I will have to follow this up with some of our most helpful tips! Until next time! Happy trails and keep them clean.