6 Ways To Be A More Sustainable TouristI love to travel, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and the food….Yum! But I’m also becoming increasingly aware of the footprints I’m leaving behind and whether they are sustainable or not. Sustainability is the ability to live within your means without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainability is more than just reusable bags and growing your own veg at home. Though environmental issues are a major factor in this, we also need to consider the economic and social aspects of our habits if we want to reduce our impact on the planet. Economic and social factors include things like; better distribution of wealth, equal opportunities and social stability. Basically, we really want to try and decrease inequality in the world and increase general well-being. So here are 6 things you can do as a tourist to help achieve this;
1. Eat out
It can be tempting to eat and drink in the wonderful hotel you have booked, but a simple walk around the corner to a local cafe or bar ensures you are actually contributing to the local economy and not just the hotel provider. Bonus: the food is always much more authentic and tasty!
2. Buy local souvenirs
Another way to help the local community is the buy the souvenirs which are made there. Be careful to check there isn’t a ‘Made in China’ sticker on the bottom of the Kenyan cup you are buying though…! Although this option might be cheaper it is better to source locally made products, pay that extra dollar and ensure your money is going to the locals who make them.
3. Take reusable products
In many developing countries plastic is a massive issue still. To help we advise that you travel with some reusable products. A small knife and fork set, a metal straw and some tote bags to fill with some authentic local souvenirs.
4. Give back
One of the hardest things when travelling to less developed places can be experiencing the extreme poverty , and while it is heartbreaking to see and tempting to give to beggars it can often have unintended consequences and isn’t sustainable – A better option is to give through a trusted source, you can always ask your tour provider or hotel for advice.
If you do want to give back another wonderful thing to do if you wish to continue to help the community after you have gone home is through sponsorships. Again make sure you are going through a trusted source, but many places offer sponsorship for a variety of projects such as; environmental, wildlife and our personal favourite education.
One of the best ways to tackle the issues of sustainability in developing countries is through educational sponsorship. Keeping children in school for longer increases the potential labour force and also decreases birth rates. I personally sponsor through the Red Rubber Ball Foundation
6. Travel with the right people
Check out your tour providers values and practices. Are they environmentally friendly, do they support local communities, heritage, and wildlife, do they employ local staff? I work closely with a cultural tourism company, Kogelo Tours, where we try to be as transparent as possible, to the extent we even take you to our projects as part of our tours, so you can see first hand where your money and your help is going. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments just let me know in a note below – or if you would like to know more please head over to Kogelo Tours!