“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”.
– Lord Byron
The words “Eco Tourism” and “Environmentalist” are thrown around a lot these days, similar to words like “nomad” and “Wanderer” donned on the profiles of influencers on Instagram, the words have lost their meaning. It’s trendy for companies to adopt the concept of ecotourism to appear part of the change instead of the problem. For risk of sounding like a grumpy old man or appearing like we are having a pop at someone in particular, let us take the chance to say, we are here to think out loud and see if we can help spread some knowledge about how you, us, adventurers- from newbies to seasoned outdoorsmen, how we can do our part to inspire some real change.
To spark up a conversation about the environment and how to travel responsibly can be controversial, it could make some uncomfortable and certainly hit a raw patch but with the environment, mother nature at the last semblance of “The Wild” being something that we hold so dear we think it's a topic worth discussing.
So what does Ecotourism mean and what's the difference between that and responsible or sustainable tourism? “Eco-tourism- tourism directed towards exotic natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife”. There is a juxtaposition in the term Responsible Tourism- minimising negative impact locally; socially, economically, environmentally and culturally; endeavouring to positively impact the local community. The overlap comes in when you consider the idea of being responsible and sustainable. You would wish no harm nor wish to leave any negative remnants of your stay wherever you visited, whether that be through leaving litter or indeed in some cases, shooting and killing a wild animal.
What can we do if not spending 3 months in Indonesia, producing zero waste and living on the beach (does sound dreamy in all fairness) or traveling to the arctic to help with the Orca conservation efforts? On a smaller scale as an intrepid adventurer and therefore someone who has a deep and meaningful connection to the earth and mother nature herself, what can we do?
Travel Methods and Logistics
Start small, it doesn't have to begin by being a huge gesture. You just have to be smart with you travel choices and before you know it you will be traveling green all the way to the beach.
Train travel is a greener way of getting around and very often the most stress free method. Train lines even in the most remote destinations are surprisingly good, if you are traveling around some less economically developed places, train travel can be a reliable and easy mode. It can also be cheaper, look online for multi tickets like rail pass that changed travel around Europe, “Interrail”, from city to coast and to the mountains!
If you must travel by car, why not “do your bit”, your community service if you will and advertise your journey via a site like BlaBlaCar. This way you can help someone out, split fuel costs and perhaps even make a new friend. Or you, yourself could search for car share option via the site.
It’s also worth looking online at the destination tourism office to see if there are any route transfers that you can book in on, mini buses and groups already heading in the same direction.
The idea that you can minimise your carbon footprint when traveling is flawed in itself, but we are not here to be perfect, it's not possible. Instead we educate ourselves and try and make the world a better place for everyone.Start with the simplistic task of picking up your litter, from the biggest packaging to the smallest bottle cap or wrapper. If you have a backpack, separate compartments for different types of rubbish to recycle when you are next given the chance. If you are trekking and you are away for a while, hold on to the rubbish, in an airtight container or bag, better that than leaving it behind. Protecting the environment is a huge global issue and recycling facilities are readily available. It's a matter of effort.
Water purity is another point worth keeping in mind. When spending time in the mountains or indeed by the sea, consider what you are adding into the water. When washing yourself or plates when trekking near a river for example, avoid using chemicals or if you can adding anything into the water flow. Use biodegradable products and where you can keep unclean water away from the flowing water.
Lastly, in terms of Carbon footprint think of all the single use plastic that is destroying the earth, eco systems and the environment as a whole. You can combat your impact by trying to make it obsolete. The cycle goes from the useage to creating a demand to creating more, the superfluous. By you, all your friends and travel buddies stopping the use of plastic cutlery and plates for example, you have already done some good. Take cutlery with you, along with plates and glasses. Minimalist living advocates or zero waste warriors will tell you this is much more doable than you think, heck it's something you could incorporate into your everyday life.
If you want to continue the fight against climate change and do something else to help then head to https://www.terrapass.com/ to learn more about how you can offset your carbon footprint and move towards a less negatively impactful lifestyle.
Local Impact- Respect Of Local Culture
This topic is not directly related to the environment but heavily influences the cycle of sustainable and responsible tourism. You are a visitor, not a local, as much as would like to blend in and think of ourselves as invisible, you stick out like a sore thumb. That’s okay, what makes you different it your desire and passion for respecting culture and tradition.
We have just a few top tips for you. Begin with using local guides, national to the area or who are residents of the area, not employed by a third party company- use companies that are local, isf you are heading to Nepal with our new operators, all are sustainable and local, companies based in the area and are proud of the local knowledge. When you stay in hotels/hostels, lodges, think small family run businesses, steer clear of the big named hotels. Another important point is to be sensitive to religion and heritage. When visiting temples and churches, opt to cover your shoulders and your knees as a mark of respect. As much as a selfie would show all your pals you visited an historic monument, think whether it's appropriate and instead take an organic moment to breathe in where you are. Above all, ALWAYS be polite and friendly, are corny as it sounds, smile and embrace the unknown.
We hope you found this interesting or useful. We were very much inspired to write this after seeing some horrible images on social media of trash layered beaches, ourselves seeing cigarette butts emerging from the melted snow and people tossing garbage into the ocean. Tour operators, big brands all the way to the average holiday maker, we all have to take responsibility for your actions and do what we can, what is within our power and means, to make the world a better place. Here at Thrillism we are dedicated to ensuring all our adventures are authentic and that every single expedition will leave you, your soul and the place you visited, that bit better afterwards.