Be an Eco-Friendly Explorer on World Environment Day
A long time ago, a woman took a walk on the shore of Langebaan beach, in South Africa. 117,000 years later, we discovered her footprints – the oldest fossils of footprints in the world. This was proof that our ancestors were explorers – the ones who took the step to discover a wider world.
Today, we’re no different. From the thick, green depths of the Amazonian rainforests, to the bustling cities of the world, from the highest peaks of mountains to the soft dunes of the sandy desserts – you’ll find our footprints there. In the millenniums that have passed, our hunger for travel, for discovery, for the new hasn’t diminished one bit.
Unfortunately, our planet has. Today, the peaks are less snowy, and the oceans are less blue. The sky is smudged and hazy from pollutants. The trees are scarce. The glaciers are melting. The world is changing – faster, and perhaps, not for the better.
As we continue to travel, to leave our own individual footprints all over the world, what can we do to protect the earth? How can we, as travellers and explorers, preserve the world for the footprints of the future generation?
Simple. This World Environment Day, we’re going to share methods to ensure that you remain an environment friendly explorer! Read on.
Light luggage: You may want to cram your suitcase with every possible outfit to take on your trip. Or you may want to cram your suitcase with souvenirs to take back home. Either way, the heavier your luggage, the more room and weight it adds to the plane. A heavier plane emits more carbon. While this may seem like a mere drop, you never know which one could start an ocean. Be moderate with your luggage – it’s a small, convenient and effective step in contributing to a great cause, and this year’s theme – #BeatAirPollution
Point A to B: Did you know, that planes use most of their fuel taking off and landing. This means every layover on your flight path adds to your carbon footprint. Instead choose a direct flight, and if possible, a newer plane (like the Boeing Dreamliner) which is designed to consume less fuel.
Prevention of Plastic: Plastic may be effective in protecting your shampoo from exploding on your flight. However, what helps you on a 1-hour long flight, takes around 1000 years to decompose. Why not opt for biodegradable or reusable bags?
Go Public: Opt for public transport, instead of hiring or grabbing a taxi for yourself. Public transport allows you to split the carbon emission load from vehicles amongst a larger group of people. Furthermore, public transport is a great way to get to know the locals, the culture and the layout of your city. If you feel up to it, rent a cycle, or try walking to nearby destinations, instead of taking a car. Swap out the carbon footprint, for a literal one!
Break from the Bottle: It’s the easiest thing to do – walk up to a shop when you’re thirsty, buy a plastic bottle of water and throw it away once you’re done. However, as we’ve discussed above, plastic is painful for the environment. Carry a thermos with you, which you can wash and refill whenever you require it.
Home and Hotel: Change isn’t just about action, its first about mindset. A simple way to travel green is to imagine that the hotel is your home. You wouldn’t leave the shower running, or the lights on all the time, would you? Simply by conserving how much power and water you use could make a difference. If you’d like to take this a step further, check if there are any green hotels at your holiday destination. Look up their websites to see what recycling programmes are used, if they use solar power or hydroelectric power and if they have any affiliations to green-certification programs like Green Globe International or EcoRooms & EcoSuites.
Take the road well-travelled: If you’re trekking in a national park or a natural reserve, stick to the official, designated paths. This is not the time to go off the beaten track and cause unknowing damage to fragile ecosystems. The point is to enjoy access to the park, without compromising its beauty or its cleanliness. Furthermore, if you’re not an experienced hiker and are unfamiliar with the land, going off the trail can leave you lost in a new environment. Don’t risk the land or yourself!
Eat and buy local: When in Rome, eat like the Romans. It’s simple, by buying and eating food that is locally sourced and produced. This is known as reducing “food miles”. You see, storing outside food requires energy and money – in terms of buying, transporting and storing. Eating locally, can reduce food miles and your carbon footprint by 7 percent! As an added advantage, you’ll be able to discover a new cuisine – in all its flavours, seasonality and complexity.
High adrenaline, less energy: If you’re an adventure junkie, you’ll want to chase that thrill all around the globe. The good news is, you can do it in an eco-friendly and responsible way. Look for low carbon activities like trekking, swimming, mountain climbing and snorkelling. Make sure that the company that is organising these adventure sports are also environmentally conscious.
Choose your souvenirs carefully: Try not to bring back souvenirs from endangered species. It may seem tempting and exotic to buy an ivory statue, carved tortoise shells, corals and seashells, or reptile skin products. However, in doing so, you’re aiding a thriving hunting and poaching industry.
These may seem like small changes in your mind. However, baby steps can often make big changes. The world is already facing a crisis this year. Our seas, our soil and our skies, in particular, are slowly growing more polluted. The UN has designated June 5th as World Environment Day with #BeatAirPollution as the theme. However, let’s treat each and every day as a chance to make a mark, to enforce change and to travel green.