The impact of tourism on the environment is undeniable, it represents according to a study published in the Nature Climate Change journal 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions! Quite frightening when we know that tourism is a growing industry and that in comparison the transport sector represents him, as a whole 14% of these emissions.
More travelers obviously means a larger carbon footprint, but also more traces of their passage. Because the carbon footprint of the tourist is not only due to his movements. We must, in fact, take into account everything that is consumed on our vacation. Overall the entire supply chain that allows the tourist activity, that is to say, food, housing and even buildings designed specifically for tourists.
Flight Shame : Is it a good idea ?
For example, there has been a recent trend, consisting of Fllght shame or #Flygskam (in Swedish), referring to feeling guilty about the effects of the air travel on the environment. Olympic athlete Björn Ferry is the instigator and main spokesperson for this trend in Sweden. He's been travelling by train for two years - a lot of night trains in particular.
Put pressure on people to instantly give up part of their lifestyle in order to have this "sustainable" label, I find it neither helpful nor effective.
For my part to travel, allowed me to open my eyes, on many problems related among others, to plastic pollution, deforestation, endangered species, subjects that decided me to take the plunge, and adopt a more responsible lifestyle.
So, if travel, allowed me to open my eyes, I can not criticize someone who takes the plane to fly to the other side of the world, because it may also be for him the trigger that it was necessary to make a commitment to the planet.
What alternatives to "eco friendly" travel ?
As in life in general, it is now possible to travel in a "responsible" way. For example, try to limit our travel by plane as soon as possible, stay in eco-resorts, make attractions that can finance the preservation of endangered species, or help plant trees. Indeed, tourism often allows locals to have a source of income and another vision of the importance of their fauna and flora.
Choose an Eco friendly destination !
Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel in natural areas that preserve the environment, ensuring the well-being of the local population, involving interpretation and education."
As we have seen above, tourism has a huge impact on carbon emissions, and therefore on global warming. But the 1,500 billion dollars generated by the travel industry are crucial for sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism. Many countries have understood this and use this financial windfall to preserve nature and thus generate income. Nature that would surely be destroyed for more lucrative projects if there was no tourism.
If ecotourism tempts you, these are the destinations not to be missed :
With 20 natural parks, 8 biological reserves, 800 km of magnificent coastline and 98% of its electricity from renewable sources. Costa Rica is probably the best ecotourism destination in the world!
RAJA AMPAT (INDONESIA)
Divers from around the world come to Raja Ampat to experience marine biodiversity. Raja Ampat includes 75% of the world's coral species. The record for the largest number of fish on a single dive site and an abundance of extraordinary endemic species. Raja Ampat is distinguished from other Indonesian destinations by its conservation ethic. Local people, government entities and business owners work together to make tourism sustainable.
With a sustainable development policy based on around 75% of its electricity coming from hydroelectric dams, Slovenia is the main European destination for ecotourism. In 2016, it was the first green certified destination in the world.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS (ECUADOR)
The Galapagos were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 and today about 90% of its territory is designated as a nature reserve. The archipelago is home to many species that are found nowhere else on the planet.
With 38% of the total area of Botswana devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. In addition to preserving and protecting the area, the reserves create jobs for residents, which are essential to the economy. The country uses solar powered boats and electric vehicles to animal observation.
Compensate for the emissions of your flight
To avoid feeling guilty about flying, it is now possible to calculate our CO2 impact and compensate for it. Many airlines or travel agencies offer this formula directly for purchase. On the site myclimate you can calculate the amount to be offset for the CO2 emissions of your next flight. Once you have calculated your amount, you make a donation to an association that funds projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have an immediate effect on climate protection.
Do Eco Volunteering
During your trip plan a few days to do eco-volunteering! There are many associations that still need volunteers to do all kinds of tasks. This can go from garbage collection on the beach, to help animal sanctuaries. For dive enthusiasts, pick up trash or help plant coral. I recommend the association Trash Hero, to pick up trash. You can find on this link, the list of countries where they are active.
This is the case everywhere! But if this is important in Western countries, it is even more important in countries where infrastructures for waste management are deficient or even non-existent. Think, for example, to buy a filter water bottle so you avoid having to buy water in a plastic bottle. Especially if you travel to a country where tap water is not drinkable.
Eat and drink locally
Look for companies that use local ingredients. Better yet, choose places that grow their own produce or head to a local farmers market. Avoid global chains that import food from far away, which translates into more carbon emissions.
Save water and electricity
Skipping housekeeping services means less energy used. Less water used and less waste generated. If you do not change your sheets and towels every day at home, why would you want it done for you at the hotel ?
Also avoid long showers and do not forget to turn off the TV, lights and air conditioning when you leave your room. For your mobile devices think of a solar charger or battery ! Very useful on vacation you can also use it once you come back home.
As with food, imported souvenirs for tourists have a higher carbon footprint than domestically produced items. Do not feel bad if you go home empty-handed. Simply sharing photos and stories of your vacation can be more useful than a quick gift grabbed at the airport.
And you ? Do you think it is necessary to stop traveling to save the planet ? Feel free to share with me your opinion or tips in comment.