I’ve spoken before about how cultural travel enriches your life and creates a better world, and we can’t do so if we’re not already going green in our thinking and behavior.
Going green refers to all eco-friendly or environmentally friendly activities. In other words, all activities related to preserving the planet and its natural environments.
In the context of travel we could be speaking about green tourism, ecotourism, sustainable tourism or environmentally friendly tourism.
A going green expert
Her work for BirdLife International is part of a major effort to save the bird species of our planet and their habitats and prevent their extinction.
She is now collaborating with me once more to bring you these 10 easy tips for going green and take care of Mother Earth, while we’re on our cultural travels.
1. No plastic bags
Use reusable fabric or canvas bags when possible for your shoes, your lingerie or your dirty laundry.
How about this sexy little satin thing for your undergarments?
Or this cute canvas bag for your flip-flops?
2. No plastic bottles
Save money and save the planet by carrying your own water refillable bottle. If you’re in a city, most likely tap water from the hotel is fine to drink.
If not, buying one big water jug and refilling your water bottle if your best option.
How about these gorgeous EartLust water bottles? As their motto says: “Eco-friendly, durable and chic”.
3. Ride a bicycle
A great and fun way to start going green and getting from point A to point B without pollution, noise and traffic jams!
4. Sustainable souvenirs
If you can, go for souvenirs crafted by local communities in a sustainable manner, rather than mass produced items.
Going green may mean buying a more expensive product, but one that supports the artisans and rewards the environmentally friendly techniques they use.
How do you know if they’re sustainable?
Well, you ask how the product was made and where its materials come from.
In many places the sustainability of a product is certified or expressed in a label of some sort.
5. Choose eco-friendly hotels
When possible, go for hotels that use fans as opposed to air conditioning since electric fans use far less energy.
Also choose hotels that have a towel program in which you can choose whether or not your towels should be changed and washed daily.
Among other going green initiatives we could list reduced use of paper, organic food, energy savings, water management, recyclable disposables, recycling bins, education, etc.
I found a website called Best Green Hotels that claims to provide suggestions for green hotels all over the world.
6. Choose local produce
Bringing food and other products from other regions implies a consumption of fuel that contributes to pollution.
Not only that, it also implies that local farmers are not selling as much, which affects local economy and sustainability.
7. Travel light
Well, traveling light also has the advantage of putting less weight on the plane or the car or the train, which helps fuel consumption, which helps reduce pollution.
8. Use designated trails
When walking through parks or visiting some wonders of nature, going green by keeping on the designated trails helps to respect and not disturb the natural habitat around.
9. Do not litter
Any trash that you produce, you need to carry with you until you can find an appropriate container to hold it, like a marked bin.
Litter that is on the ground attracts more litter, so it’s a personal choice to do the right thing and help separate and classify waste.
10. Support eco-friendly travel companies
There are many companies committed to responsible and green travel, such as Intrepid Travel in Australia.
They strive to make travel a learning experience, while preserving the nature and the local cultures, always making sure their activities have as little impact as possible and educating travelers about several going green and responsible travel strategies.
Intrepid Travel has a great page to learn more about your ecological footprint (the impact you have on the environment) so that you can learn more and see how you can reduce it.
And if you’d still like more information here’s Carbon Offset Watch’s page with tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
And fantastic bonus tip 11
Travel is here to fight ignorance so that we can all make a better world with tolerance, compassion and understanding.
But that not only applies to humans, it also applies to our beautiful planet!
My bonus tip is this: Learn from the past so that we can make a better future. A couple of examples?
Learn from some pre-Columbian cultures in Latin America who (some theories claim) used up all the natural resources of their environment until they themselves became extinct.
This is also said to have happened to the The Ancient Khmer Empire in Cambodia.
And let’s learn the lessons in contaminating our rivers and our soil, how in the end whole societies have disappeared for not taking care of the environment.
And let’s take this lesson to our future generations.
What other easy tips do you have for going green during cultural travels?
Are you guilty of some environmental trespasses? How can you make up for it?
Share your comments in the field below or join the conversation in Facebook!