By Sneha Marappa
Travelling is a part of people’s life, and has acquired a huge share in everybody’s life. With the drastic increase in usage of social media platforms, traveling is much easier now compared to a decade ago. There are infinite number of travel sites which prepare itineraries, many tour agents who arrange package tours, social media influencers who inspire to travel, multiple magazines and news papers that are filled with travel articles, incredible photographs clicked by talented photographers which push anyone to travel, witness the place by themselves, and experience it in their own eyes.
The expansion of travel industry has made economic contribution on many countries across the globe. But it also has a huge negative impact toward the environment. Increase in number of travellers has lead to increase in vehicles and flights which further lead to increase in carbon footprint. This can be the biggest threat, considering the environmental changes we are already facing due to global warming. Hence, while travelling, if we follow some basic ethics, keeping our concerns towards environment in mind, we could reduce the percentage of increase in carbon footprint.
With the increase in number of tourists, most of the popular destinations across the world have turned into nightmares. For example, Yana, one of the major tourist destination and a pilgrimage site located in Kumta in Uttara Karnataka district of Karnataka, India, has one of the most beautiful rock formations I have ever seen. This rock served as home for many cave pigeons and bats. Due to noise caused by the tourists inside the rocks, the number of cave pigeons and bats has reduced drastically. Usage of plastic around the forest area has increased and the beauty of the cave in itself is fading away.
Such instances in many places have provoked people to start non-profit organizations where they educate and promote responsible travel, environment friendly travel and sustainable travel. Sustainable travel means to learn to travel without harming the environment, and local culture and tradition.
Few countries have started to promote eco-tourism, requiring hotels and guesthouses to follow specific norms by creating an eco-friendly environment. Like building cottages using traditional methods, reducing the usage of plastic, growing their own vegetables, providing jobs to locals, promoting organic farming, recycling waste, and making optimum usage of locally available resources.
Bhutan has set a good example in promoting sustainable tourism and eco friendly tourism. It is the only country in the world that is carbon negative. People here follow the traditional method of designing and constructing buildings, everyone is dressed in their traditional attire, they still savour most of their traditional food and locally brewed wine, and, most importantly 72 percent of the country, is covered by forest.
Another example is a small town called Joida in Uttara Karnataka, Karnataka, India. The locals here, who work in the tourism industry, have formed an organization promoting eco-tourism where all the home stays here follow few specific norms like planting more trees in their properties, not cutting any trees to build cottages or rooms, providing food with home grown vegetables, organic farming, and conducting eco tours and workshops. Almost 93 percent of the area is covered by forest.
As travellers, we will have to choose to travel responsibly too. I personally chose to stay mostly in an eco-friendly environment, preferably homestays or guest houses built with a concern toward environment by either using recycled materials or by using available resources without harming the nature. We are promoting two important aspects here — saving nature and also promoting sustainable travel to fellow travellers.
Sustainable travel is not just about where you stay, it is also about your daily practices while traveling. Using local transport like a bus or any form of shared transport or even by walking contributes less pollution to the environment. Usage of plastic in the form of bags or bottles contributes to the non-recycled waste. In recent years, most of the governments have put a ban on use of plastic bags. They either recommend people to carry their own bag, or provide cloth bags or bio-degradable plastic bags. Carrying your own bottle to drink water avoids the necessity to buy plastic bottles. Small gestures like using less water while showering, and switching off lights and fans when not in use contributes a lot to save the resources generated from the environment.
Sustainable travel is the future. We will have to ground the foundation so deep and rooted that our future generation should be able to grow better environment to live in harmony. Better travel practices would make our world a better place to live and cherish our nature.
About the Author
Sneha is a Girl by Gender and an Indian by Nationality. She grew up in Bengaluru in an orthodox family and worked in a corporate job for more than 6 years. She realized that her life should not be bound in a cubicle inhaling the air from AC ducts. So she quit her job and is now in the world where there are no boundaries, inhaling the fresh air, feeding herself with the wanderlust! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org