Give your eco-credentials a boost with these tips for sustainable holidays that don’t cost the earth
Before you go
Choose your destination wisely. “Travelling affects the environment so explore your transportation options and, wherever possible, try to minimise your pollution,” says Randy Durband, CEO of The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Remember, you don’t always need to travel far and wide to have a brilliant break. There are many destinations in and around the Middle East, at which a variety of rich travel experiences await.
Do you research. “Once you have decided on your destination, check for hotels and resorts that have an active sustainability programme or eco-friendly initiatives,” says Randy. If the hotel has been certified by a GSTC accredited body, it means it has passed impartial sustainability checks. You can also look into the eco experiences and activities on offer. JA Manafaru in Maldives, for instance, offers a House Reef Cleaning snorkelling experience that invites guests to help collect foreign objects from the reefs. Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai shines a light on cultivating marine wildlife, most recently releasing 15 baby sharks into the Gulf.
Pack lightly. “One’s carbon footprint includes the amount of weight we carry,” says Randy. Make an effort to streamline your suitcase as much as possible by packing mindfully. Simple steps can make difference, such as loading your holiday reads onto your tablet instead of carrying the physical books. Even the little things will count, such as taking your new toothbrush out of its plastic wrapper ahead of your trip, so you’re saving space and avoiding throwing away rubbish at your destination, where you may not have access to recycling facilities.
While You’re There
Shop consciously. “Don’t haggle for the lowest price with a vendor who makes in a week what you spend on one coffee,” says Randy. Although it may be tempting to battle it out for a bargain, be mindful that what may seem like little money to you could mean a lot to them. You should also make sure that your souvenirs don’t contain coral, shells or wood products harvested from unsustainable forests.
Swot up on animal rights. “As it comes down to a matter of opinion, it’s not easy to state which animal attractions are ethical, but you should always do your research,” says Randy. “A good source to learn about the issues surrounding this topic is animondial.com.” Although it may be cool to take a picture riding an elephant, for example, consider how these animals are being treated before supporting it with your money. Look into volunteering at an animal sanctuary, where you’ll get to meet animals up close in a safe and ethical way.
Be a responsible guest. “Be conscious of your destination’s environmental challenges,” says Randy. “For example, limit water usage when visiting desert destinations.” Opting for showers over baths, bringing your own reusable water bottle to refill and making an effort to reuse your towels are all easy ways to consume less. If everyone makes a small effort, it combines to make a big difference.
When You’re Home
Share the good stuff. “Write favourable online reviews about hotels and attractions that operate sustainably,” says Randy. You can influence others to make mindful holiday choices through the photos you share and the stories you tell. Keep learning and spreading awareness about how good it feels to holiday with a conscience.