July 2013 has been declared the official “Make Your Holidays Greener Month”, by a UK organisation of the same name, and there are several campaigns going on to raise awareness of sustainable tourism, eco-tourism and responsible travel.
Making our holidays greener is not about ditching luxury hotels for tents or swapping our connoisseur tours for a foraging trip in the jungle, but rather, making better choices when we book our holidays, and doing simple things while we are away to limit the impact we have on the environment and the local communities.
I have been told many times that, “the best way to be a responsible traveller is not to travel at all”, and while I appreciate everyone has their own views, I am sure the people living in countries dependent on tourism, would beg to differ!
The world is a big, beautiful and bountiful place, but it is also very fragile, and if we do not start looking at ways to make our holidays greener now, the ice-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the wildlife of Southern Africa, and the tribes of the Amazon, may not be around for our children and grandchildren to see.
So how do we make our holidays greener? Well, a good place to start is by offsetting your flight carbon emissions when you book your tickets. If the airline or travel agency you book with doesn’t offer this service, you can do it yourself online with organisations such as Climate Care.
Choosing accommodations and hotels owned by locals, rather than huge international chains, will also make a huge difference, and it is a great way to interact with the local community during your stay. Privately owned holiday accommodations generally offer a much more personalised service, and in most instances, they cost less too!
Other tips including eating in family run restaurants, booking your excursions with local trained guides who know how to preserve the natural environment and wildlife, and perhaps the ‘greenest’ tip of all, preserve natural resources such as water and electricity by turning off the air-con and lights, and taking short showers.
July is a busy month for travel, and if everyone introduced just one of the tips above, our holidays will be a whole lot greener come August!