Sustainable travel should enhance tourism without harming natural and cultural environments.
Reducing a Caron Footprint
Reducing our carbon footprint, is a common buzzword, but what does that mean?
What is a ‘carbon footprint’?
Total greenhouse gas emissions from the lifecycle of a product or service comprise a ‘carbon footprint.’
Footprint gases include carbon dioxide. But they also contain nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated gases – all of which trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global change.
Sustainable travel isn’t just a change in lifestyle that reduces one’s share of greenhouse gases. It is a travel philosophy, to make a positive impact, embraceable in stages or all at once. And a commitment to work towards enhancing a new generation and type of world traveler.
What is Sustainable Tavel?
The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable travel as … [the] management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support system.”
Travel is a miraculous endeavor. Whether visiting popular destinations or far-off lands, the very act of traveling expands the mind and exposes the traveler to awe-inspiring experiences. For local-host communities, tourism and the travel industry provides a means to economic benefit and cultural exchange.
Sustainable travel is responsible travel.
Simply put, sustainable travel values the local environment and protects resources – a philosophy vital to the 372,000 miles of coastline on the planet.
Sustainability, quite the buzzword of late, applies to everything from planetary ecosystems to corporate boardrooms. The United Nation’s fundamental three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social, and environmental, concern all facets of daily life.
Travel Sustainability – The Three Pillars
In addressing the Environmental Pillar, sustainable travelers take steps to minimize their negative impact on the environment – whether through transportation or on location.
The Social Pillar of sustainable travel revolves around the impact of travel on local people, local culture, and local communities, including supporting destination-based businesses, community projects, and charities.
The Economic Pillar of sustainable travel encourages positive contributions to the local economy including locally-run hotels, restaurants, and entrepreneurs.
Sustainable Travel International, a non-profit organization, provides sustainable travel tips, encouraging travelers to Take the Pledge to travel better.
I pledge to Travel Better by making a conscious effort to:
- LIGHTEN the footprint of my travels
- CONSERVE the wild places I explore
- SUPPORT the people and communities I visit
- RESPECT the wildlife I see
- CELEBRATE cultures authentically and respectfully
- ADVOCATE for sustainable tourism
Many of the changes involved in a commitment to green travel are significant. And they do not always involve carbon emissions.
However, one simple thing that all travelers can do is change the way we think about plastic.
Travel Sustainability and Plastic
Much of the plastic used by travelers is not recyclable. The WWF found that Mediterranean Sea plastic, increased by 40 percent during the Summer.
To counter this, in January 2020, UNEP, UNWTO, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative to help the travel industry take coordinated action against plastic pollution generated by travelers.
Easy actions to take are to travel with reusable metal water or food containers and be conscientious of plastic at all levels.
When planning a trip, solo or with family and friends, focus on sustainability –ensuring that your time and money is spent locally.