I love to travel and love nature. Something about these things seems to invigorate life and bring joy to me. While travelling I’d always found a deep pleasure in experiencing natural environments and witnessing the interactions between animals, so it deeply saddened me when I would travel to places where nature and humans didn’t coexist peacefully; the street dogs of Bali; the deforestation of Sumatra; the pollution of Thailand’s rivers etc. I wondered how I could help beyond the traditional monetary donation. The only thing I could think of was to change the way I travelled. Support local organisations helping to overcome these issues. Oppose the ones that supported the continued tensions, through distancing myself from anything that supplied them with money; do not support damaging industries; ensure my travels don’t impact the local environment; travel in one with nature, rather than nature being the product of or impacted by said consumption. It may not be much, but every bit helps.
For me this was simple. As a millennial growing up in an evermore greening society, my concerns for the natural world have only seemed to grow as I have. And I was surprised to hear that whole communities exist with similar views and values. It has becoming increasingly easy to research and find ways to change – slightly – your travels to reduce their impact. This is great, but ecotravel is about so much more than just damage control. For me it’s about a deep passion and joy found in nature; a personal peace found in the beauty and magnitude of nature; through swimming with turtles; through trekking pristine rainforests; through watching the sun set over the horizon. The simple things.
This website is dedicated to all things ecotravel and will impart you with the knowledge and tips to organically green your travels. Below are some of the points that I believe need some explanation on the topic.
So what is this thing called ‘ecotravel’?
To be truthful many people can already call themselves an ecotraveller without changing much about the way they travel. For many its tenants are common place in their life and for others it wouldn’t really require you to dramatically alter the way you travel or go out of your way in search of alternative accommodation and locations. According to the ecotraveller it is
“ responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people”
As we move to an increasingly urbanised world, it is important to ensure that the remaining natural environments are kept in a condition that ensures they can support themselves and the organisms that reside in them. It could just as easily be titled ‘responsible travel’ or ‘sustainable travel’ or something of the kind. This is extended to include the people in the lands that you visit. Ensuring that your actions do not hinder on their cultural practices and ensure that respect is shown.
How’s it different to mass commercial tourism?
Mass commercial tourism is often described as the polar opposite of ecotravel. While this isn’t strictly true it does present some key aspects that make the two somewhat distinct. Furthermore, this is not to say that all commercial tourism is damaging but it has a far higher percentage.
The problem with mass commercial tourism is it tends to exploit an area continuously day-in and day-out for long periods of time. And what you find is that over extended periods of time the continued use and visitation of an area by these operators’ results in its deterioration. After all, not everyone will have the same value for nature or respect the value of a pristine environment, and these operators cannot always monitor the actions of their attendees. It may not be intentional, but it seems to occur naturally. By big tourism operators continuously bringing people to a location they’re ultimately reducing the areas tourism value. Again, this doesn’t apply to every operator. There are many places that have realised this dilemma and invested profits back into the area to ensure it’s kept clean and to mitigate continued deterioration. In places where profits for tourism operators are minimal and can barely support a family, such as in Bali and Thailand, they are unlikely to put a clean area over the next meal.
Won’t eco-friendly accommodation be hard to find?
To be honest, I haven’t really changed the types of accommodation I use. For the most part I do stay in nature-based hotels, but this is based on preference. My favourite places to stay at our ones that incorporate nature; where trees, shrubbery and wildlife are intertwined with the hotel. (I will be writing several reviews of hotels in coming weeks that I have visited with this kind of layout). I’m not avoiding hostels or resorts, there just not my preferred option. Unless there is some big, widely known issue about a place I cannot fault a specific type of accommodation.
My passion for the environment and travel has motivated me to ensure that neither one negatively impacts the other, so I define myself as an ecotraveller. How about you?