Eco-friendly tourism part 2: helping the locals and playing your part
Did you join us for the first part of our mini eco-friendly tourism guides last week? If not, you can catch it right here – it’s full of tips to help keep your carry-on luggage eco-friendly. This week, we’re focusing on your destination itself, and namely: how you can stay, eat, and shop sustainably on your travels.
Whether you’re ready to book accommodation, looking for the best advice on how to eat like a local, or finding the best ways to shop in a sustainable way, we’ve got all the best tips for you right here.
Say no to larger resorts
Whilst the Corona virus has mostly helped keep us all out of larger resorts, there are other reasons to choose to stay in slower and quieter accommodation. Not only are staff members (who are usually locals) paid badly in many instances, but you’ll also find larger hotels and resorts super wasteful.
Think about the catering for instance. When you wander in for your buffet breakfast each morning, do you believe that all of the food gets eaten during breakfast hours? Not likely. In fact, larger hotels and resorts have a lot of food wastage, which not only loses them money, but is wasteful, especially when there’s often people starving in the very same country.
That’s not all though. Think about the amount of water and energy that’s used when your bedrooms are cleaned each day in a hotel. Bedding and towels are replaced daily in some hotels, and when there are up to 500 rooms to clean per day, that adds up pretty quickly.
Finally, if you think about the amount of land that disappears when a resort is built, it can be quite shocking. Many sites that hotels are built on were once areas of natural beauty, or leafy spaces that have had concrete poured into them to create swimming pools, tennis courts, and saunas. If you’re looking to be good to the environment, these resorts are not the places to start.
Book yourself into a local B&B, hostel, small hotel, or AirBnB
For many travelers, having their own space can feel safer, or just more comfortable. By booking to stay in a hostel, Bed and Breakfast, a smaller boutique hotel, or even an AirBnB, you could be helping the locals enormously and spending your cash in the right place.
Without a cleaner coming each morning to dress your bed, or sprawling all-inclusive buffets that waste food, you can shop for your own groceries and simply make your bed each morning. Booking in smaller accommodation like this helps to bring your carbon footprint down, whilst building smaller businesses up, which in time can help ensure a tourist destination remains in good condition, whilst thriving.
Take a walk on the wild side
If you’re into the great outdoors, why not take a walk on the wild side and camp? Not only is it the cheapest solution, but you’re closer to nature, and can fully appreciate your surroundings without being distracted by televisions or garish lights that you’ll find in many places that offer accommodation.
Many campsites are cheap, yet have facilities with all you could need included. Some even provide small meals on request. With little electricity or energy being used, you can enjoy a cheap and exciting solution that’ll bring your carbon footprint right down.
Eat the local cuisine
One of the best things about travel for many people is the promise of new dishes and cuisines to try. Do some research before your departure to discover exactly which food and drink is special to your chosen destination, and make a list of things you want to try whilst you’re there.
Food is the way to many people’s hearts, and locals love to create their own dishes that have sometimes been passed down through generations. Getting your hands on some of the locals favorite foods can really help connect you to a certain area, so get your hands on that locally sourced produce and enjoy every mouthful.
Eat at local restaurants
This is closely linked to our last point. Choosing to eat at locally owned restaurants shows business owners that you’re there to really experience the full charm of your destination. You could also be helping to keep some businesses afloat by choosing to spend your cash there.
In some less wealthy countries, many café and restaurant owners rely solely on the trade from travelers, and you’ll often find that the food is cheap and made authentically, which always makes it taste ten times better.
By avoiding larger, corporate owned restaurants, you’re helping keep the local business thriving, and you’ll experience a way more authentic meal.
Buy locally grown produce from local markets or smaller convenience stores
If you’re staying in an apartment or B&B where you’ll be preparing your own meals daily, why not shop at the local market or smaller supermarkets where you’ll be making a direct impact on keeping some businesses going?
Often, local markets and supermarkets only import locally grown produce, which helps to keep farmers in business. When you buy from a larger chain supermarket, the produce is often imported into the country, which not only takes that money away from the locals, but you’ll find that the produce itself is much less fresh.
Shop locally for souvenirs
Mass produced, imported tatt is obvious to the seasoned traveller. After all, how could so many souvenir shops stock exactly the same products at such high prices? When you shop for souvenirs this way, not only will you pay far too much for a lesser quality product, but you’ll also be keeping corporate businesses flowing whilst the locals see a loss. That’s not all though; when souvenirs are imported, they carry with them a larger carbon footprint, which is harmful to the environment in the long run.
Head into local artisan stores instead, where you’ll usually discover hand crafted trinkets and wares sold at much more affordable prices. This way you’re buying something unique, and helping to put money into the right pockets, keeping smaller businesses afloat.
How do you make sure you keep your carbon footprint as low as possible? Are you a fan of eco-friendly tourism? If you’ve got any other tips or pieces of advice, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments.
We hope you’ll find a little bit of helpful advice with our words that may change how you plan your next adventure. Whatever you do, try at least one of our solutions to help keep local businesses thriving, especially in poorer or over-crowded, popular tourist destinations that could do with your support.