A selfie in front of the Taj Mahal, ziplining in Costa Rica, sunbathing in Bali, dolphin-watching in the Philippines, museum hopping in France. These are just a few of the many #wanderlust experiences we dream of, have already done, or are planning to do soon. But in between these trips, we often don’t notice that some of the things we buy and use or the actions we do have a great impact on the environment --- negatively. Here are simple yet great essentials and products for you to become a responsible and eco-friendly traveler:
One of the best things you could do to the environment and yourself when traveling is to go around by foot. Walk from your hostel to the nearby temples, churches, or flea markets. This way, you can have control of your time and the things you see. Plus, you can burn some calories along the way, too! You can also opt to rent bicycles for a day or for your entire stay which are really affordable. Bike through the local villages, rice fields, or quaint towns. When going from one island to another, it is also better to ride the ferry than take the plane ride as it uses less fuel.
While there are legitimate animal rescue centers and sanctuaries in several destinations worldwide, there are also ones that are mainly used for commercial and tourism. The animals are not treated well and being beaten as training to put up a good show. Skip the tiger temples where they’re tied up or caged. Skip the whale shark feeding spots. Skip the elephant sanctuaries where they are used to take you around. Do thorough research first and ask around before signing up.
It has already been scientifically proven that the commercial sunscreens now are damaging to the coral reefs. Certain ingredients like benzophenone, parabens, and oxybenzone contribute to coral bleaching. So while the oceans give us beautiful and breathtaking underwater scenes, we must also do our part by using natural and biodegradable sunscreen now available through specialty stores and organic shops. Imagine saving your skin from sun damage while saving the ocean, too!
Eco bags are already widely available worldwide, or you can bring one yourself before embarking on your trip. Eco bags are very light to pack and has multiple uses --- for trips to the laundry when buying groceries, or shopping for souvenirs. They’re really great, and that’s one less plastic cellophane thrown out to the garbage and onto landfills or oceans. You should also bring reusable water bottles instead of buying packaged bottles in every place you go. You can also save money as many hostels, and restaurants offer free water. Lastly, skip using plastic straws. Drink straight from the cup or bring your own metal or bamboo straw. Plastic waste is the biggest reason for marine animals to die, we should all take part in reducing it.
Cigarette butts may look very tiny but every single one thrown out improperly makes up some of the main trash found on the ocean floors. Never throw them out to the beach or even in streets because it eventually will flow to waterways and rivers and oceans. Lastly, respect every place as if it was your home unless you sleep and live in a pile of garbage. Never leave anything and dispose trash properly.