Today is Earth Day, and what better to talk about sustainable tourism. I write from Santa Marta, gateway to the wonderful Tayrona National Park, an entry I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I did not know how to focus and I had to think about it a bit more.
I have been traveling for more than three months and have met many people with whom I have learned a lot and also study other forms of travel, I have also seen incredible sites that have lost some of their charm for tourism (mainly mass). Many of us love to travel, and above all to find empty places, to be the first, to arrive and to have no one, but we are responsible for making sure that wherever we go, we are doing it in a sustainable way and that instead of Community, we will benefit.
A good example is animals; We all like them and we look for experiences that allow us to approach them as much as possible, however, this is not always good. It is very common in Southeast Asian countries, especially Thailand, to visit the temples of tigers and go for an elephant ride … As soon as we hear the name of “exotic” animals, we want to have the complete experience with them. But before venturing, we should investigate.
When I was in Sri Lanka, after finishing volunteering we went on a trip, and when budgeting with the options, we were given a choice between visiting a sanctuary of rescued elephants where contact with humans is minimal, or meeting Lily, a Elephant used for festivals, and take a walk in it. My first reaction was to meet Lily, however, I decided to investigate. It turns out that elephants are not made to carry much weight on their back and even less when they carry chairs as it makes them hurt the spine. Also the training method is based on fear, creating a master-object relationship. Tigers are stoned; One only has to think about how the tigers would be in their natural habitat and if they would let themselves be caressed by humans normally. Just read a little on the internet before opting for something that includes animals. If you still want to have the experience, there are many ways to do it without the negative impact, such as visiting the sanctuaries (also investigate to what extent they are legitimate and it is not an “eco” trap to sell more), or Making safaris where the animals will be at their ball.
Another detail to take into account; Whenever possible, choose the local. Eat like one more, buy food on the street, gifts to artisans who work to feed their family, and above all, in the markets. Not only do you help the local economy, but also it is in bulk so you can carry bags of cloth instead of using as much plastic bag as in supermarkets. In addition, it is always cheaper in the local markets, than in the super. If the country to which you are speaking an unknown language, learn something basic before going to be able to handle without being too timid. Phrases like “no, very expensive” or “how much does it cost?” Can come in handy.
Speaking of plastic, bring a canteen and fill it. Not only is it a money saver, if not a plastic one. All the plastic used, is still here, in landfills and in the sea. The plastic is not biodegradable, so it accumulates, and yes, it is possible that the amount of plastic a person uses is not comparable to what a factory can use, but as my mother says “a grain does not make a barn, but Help mate “. If the country does not have drinking water, most hotels / shelters have filters. And if not, share a large bottle instead of buying bottles with less capacity. It’s also okay to bring your own stainless steel straw , instead of using the ones you give. Buy a reusable tupper of a sturdy material,
Avoid palm oil. Not only is it bad for health , but the jungles of the Amazon and Borneo are being destroyed to plant the tree, which means that the fauna (especially orangutans) that live there are highly attacked. Buy nuts, or fruit or stalls from the street, instead of chocolates that can contain it. If you miss the peanut butter, you can do it in five minutes with peanuts, the oil you want (the coconut is the best), salt and a mixer. And bam, a rich breakfast without chemicals, additives and without palm oil.
By choosing companies or activities that promote or participate in some way in the environmental wear or the use of animals for the benefit and entertainment of the people, we are fomenting animal abuse and being part of the problem, in the same way as when we go to the circus Or when we litter the street. It does not cost so much to investigate, to collect and to clean after us and to try to reutilizar to the maximum. Traveling in a sustainable way does not mean denying cleanliness and leaving aside personal hygiene, it just means being more aware of our footprint in the world and doing something about it.
In many countries there is no awareness or information about the environment, and there are many activities that will only encourage the type of tourism that damages, but we can not blame the humble people who have a family to feed and know that tourists go to Want to take a photo with a stripe. However, it is in our power, to avoid falling into these traps, to raise awareness and to try to make our mark as possible.
Happy earth day, let’s take care of it and spoil it as it deserves. We can not forget that we are here in passing and we have to leave things as we would like to meet them.