Written by Paola Teocoli
Holidays are a great time to relax and enjoy the time available to admire beautiful places and rediscover the serenity and tranquility that we sometimes lose while we work.
But we must not forget that our environmental footprint is valid even when we are on holiday and we must be careful to respect the place where we are, as if we were at home. We must aim to be as eco-sustainable as possible and for this, here is the decalogue to be the best eco-tourist ever!
1. Where do I go?
It is very important to choose the destination of our trip not only according to our needs but also by referring to the ecological sustainability of the place. Areas that are protected will have a proper code of conduct for tourism.
2. Where do I stay?
Choosing the hotel where we will stay is very important as some accommodation is more eco-friendly than others. Use of alternative energy reduction of environmental impact, integration into the local environment and engagement with the local population are all good markers in the sand for sustainable accommodation.
3. How do I get there?
Destinations that mean that we don’t need to use the plane, will always make for a more environmentally friendly holiday. Opting to use the train ride and leave the car in the garage will always be more equally low impact and , give us an opportunity to admire the landscape and relax more.
4. Can I meet you?
Interacting with local people is the best way to get to know and appreciate the finest bits of a location. Locals will be able to suggest the best places to eat, local products to buy and activities that support the community and respect the environment.
5. What do I eat?
Choose restaurants that a taste of what the locals eat. Good honest local produce that hasn’t travelled very far. Make a picnic and eat in the great outdoors.
6. What do I do with my waste?
Picnics can create unnecessary waste. Use sandwich boxes rather than bags and make sure that you take all of your rubbish with you including cigarette butts which may start a fire.
7. What do I take home?
Souvenirs will remind us of our holidays but we must pay attention to what we bring home with us! No products made with parts of protected and endangered animals and leave sand and shells where they are found. Also never touch and pull the starfish out of the water: we risk jeopardizing their lives!
8. Can I approach the animals?
Observing nature and animals is an engaging experience and will make us feel in touch with ourselves and with the cycle of life but we must never interfere with what we are looking at. Do not harass the animals, approaching or chasing them (risking also to put us in danger). Do not scream and do not light fires unless allowed by the forest guards. There should be no trace of our passage.
9. Can I use it?
We should always choose organic products for personal care which are free from parabens and silicones. Creams based on chemical ingredients risk damaging the planet, particularly when we swim, as toxins can get into the water and risk damaging the marine ecosystem.
10. Can I participate?
Becoming a member of a local organization that supports the conservation of a place and its nature, is a great way not only to maintain contacts but also to contribute in a practical way to the preservation of the places that hosted us during our holiday. Whatever our destination and our idea of what a holiday should be, we should always try to remember that we are guests and therefore we should always behave well, respecting a location’s inhabitants, its traditions, culture and nature.
Happy holidays eco-tourists!