Our personal travel is an area where we can really control the imp[act we have on the earth. While some people drive around in massive off-road vehicles, others take the bus. Some need to jet around the world in their leisure time, while others prefer a walking vacation. These are big differences in our behavior patterns, and our impact on the earth can be just as big. There are many resources available online to calculate your carbon footprint and learn about eco-tours and resorts. Please use these suggestions to add to your own research.
Here are a few tips to keep your leisure travel as green as possible:
Getting around town
- Use public transport! Buses and rail systems are three times more fuel-efficient than private cars. Urban rail systems are the most efficient - and they will be even cleaner in future when they are running on clean energy.
- Stretch your legs more often! Walking keeps you fit and does not harm the climate. Reconquer the cities - on foot.
- Ride a bike! It takes up very little room and uses no fuel. It's quiet and clean and keeps you fit. Take every available opportunity to use the good old bike when you go to work, go shopping or even when you go on vacation.
- Shrink your car! The most important question when you buy your next car is: "What's its fuel consumption?" Help us to make the owners of those giant limousines, SUVs and other fuel guzzlers too embarrassed to show them in public.
- Fly only when you really have to! Air traffic is top of the league of climate-killers.
- While visiting new places, only take info packets and maps that are absolutely necessary and return all others.
- Don't buy products made from endangered species like tortoise shell, ivory or black coral.
- The only thing you should be taking at nature reserves, biospheres or national parks is photos, please do not disturb the eco-system you are visiting. Respect the flora, fauna and people where you visit.
- And finally - rediscover local beauty! Flying away on weekend shopping trips and jetting to a tropical paradise reap havoc with the balance on your personal CO2 account. So, take more holidays closer to home and discover that it's just as beautiful there.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a great resource for those interested in green travel. It defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people." You may want to use the guidelines published by The International Ecotourism Society to determine whether your upcoming vacation is green or not.
Here are the principles TIES uses for ecotourism:
- minimize impact.
- build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
- raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental and social climate.