Sunday, August 3, 2014

Eco-Travel: Sustainability Away From Home

Many tourists want to see unspoiled natural beauty, but the sad fact is that simply traveling to witness natural wonders may involve the degradation of the very ecosystems that the traveler aims to appreciate. While sustainability is an integral part of the contemporary vocabulary concerning how we eat, use energy, travel to work and what products we purchase in our day-to-day lives, there is a tendency to "take a vacation" from environmental consciousness when going on holiday. How can the eco-traveler continue to preserve the environment when away from home? 

Preserving the environment is easy with Eco-tourism
There are simple things a traveler can do to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used on a trip and to minimize waste. Before booking a flight, ensure that you are taking the most direct route, since airplanes are huge creators of carbon emissions. Once at your destination, learn the routes well to reduce the necessity of taking taxis, and walk or use public transportation whenever possible. Some cities have bike rentals and extensive bike paths, and it is worthwhile to use them whenever possible. Buy local fruits and vegetables and hire natives as tour guides to support the local economy. 
For travelers who are comfortable with an organized tour, there are many opportunities for eco-tourism with arrangements to visit nature preserves, consume local produce and stay in environmentally-friendly lodgings. Those who prefer to go it alone can look into accommodations that provide sustainable services as well as comfort and elegance. 

Eco-hotels must be registered as "green" by a third party, and the designation of eco-hotel should provide travelers with the confidence that their accommodations preserve the local environment. These hotels generally use non-toxic cleaning agents, provide recycling bins, have energy-efficient lighting, transportation in vehicles that have little or no carbon emissions and serve organic or natural meals made from local ingredients. Guests are given the options to re-use their towels and sheets, water is recycled and alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are used. 

Many eco-hotels and eco-lodges are located in jungles, around nature preserves and close to beaches. The Lapa Rios in the Peninsula de Osa in Costa Rica is situated in a nature preserve, and the lodge consists of a series of bungalows, garden showers and private decks. It also has a viewing deck so visitors can observe wildlife. Bulungula Backpackers at the Bulungula River Mouth in East Cape, South Africa, gives visitors a nearly complete immersion in the local culture. The lodge is a network of traditionally-designed structures and is fully powered with solar, wind and other alternative fuels. Rainwater is heated with paraffin, and many visitors report that exotic species of animals roam within the unfenced areas of the lodge. Maison Anglaise in Tourdant, Morocco provides an ideal setting to experience the local Berber culture with visits to nearby villages and opportunities to support beekeeping and soap-making cooperatives. The lodge is powered with solar energy, and the cuisine offered made of natural, local ingredients. 

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