Will COVID-19 help us press the reset button on travel’s impact?
I wrote the book on ecotourism, literally. When The Business of Ecotourism came out in 1996, people couldn’t distinguish between ecotourism and eco-terrorism. As the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development draws to a close should you be hanging up your hotel towel and buying carbon offsets? The answers might surprise you.
I’ve become cynical about hotel towel programs where a little room card explains how hanging your towel up means it won’t be replaced; the reduction is laundry saving water and energy. After hanging up my towel, all too frequently I return to my room to find my towels replaced. Ad-hoc conversations I’ve had with hotel managers confirm there are challenges with execution. Sometimes staff doesn’t understand the program’s intent or think the room isn’t really clean without fresh towels.
Carbon offsetting programs have also had their challenges. Can Tech Letter recently published a review of tree planting initiatives and found although planting a tree can create a personal connection it may not be an effective offset. While your flight may be this week, the tree you purchase will take a lot longer to grow and absorb carbon. And it’s a temporary fix. When trees die the carbon is released again.
So what to do? Can you green your travel habits? Here are some suggestions that might work:
- If you want to buy carbon offsets look for a program certified independently such as Gold Standard. Or consider replacing a flight with road or train travel or even a staycation! According to the David Suzuki Foundation travelling by air has a greater climate impact per passenger kilometer than trains, boats or cars.
- If you do leave home, take a guided tour at your destination, even if it’s only for a few hours. By listening to a local you can find out what their issues are and the money you spend on your tour will be an important ‘value-add’ to the economy.
- Consider splitting an entree with your travelling companion. A Guardian report found 50% of all food produced in the United States is thrown out. With many restaurants serving up huge portions it’s relatively easy to save dollars, calories and resources by sharing a meal.
- Keep hanging up your towels but put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on days when you don’t need the trash emptied. You may have to make the bed yourself (just like at home) but you can be sure to save water and energy.
What are your favorite ways to green travel? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share the best ideas in a future issue.
Is hanging up your hotel towel a waste of time? Click to Tweet.
4 Suggestions to #Travel #Green & Contribute to #Ecotourism: Click to Tweet.
I take a holiday for fun. I want to relax. I want to see wildlife, perhaps birds or marine mammals that I haven’t seen before.
I don’t want to see garbage or deal with cramped airplane seats and I confess, I don’t think about ethics when I’m planning my next big trip. Do you?
Maybe it is time to consider ethics in planning a trip. Each year Berkeley-based non-profit Ethical Traveler looks at policies and practices of the world’s developing countries using public data to evaluate environmental protection, social welfare and human rights.Maybe it is time to consider ethics in planning a trip
Sounds like a dull process but I was surprised to see a country that has long been a fave of nature travelers – Costa Rica – didn’t make the Top 10 list last year. It lost marks on animal welfare because no progress was being made on reducing turtle egg poaching and there was inconsistent support of endangered shark protections.
Ecuador – touted as an affordable place for ex-pats – doesn’t qualify as a top ethical destination because of environmental and human rights issues. Probably not something people are thinking about when planning a trip to the Galapagos but it is nice to know the information is there if you want it.Wondering how your travel plans match up against the ethical travel criteria?
Wondering how your travel plans match up against ethical travel criteria? Here are the 2017 Ethical Destination Awards Winners (in alphabetical order):
- Cabo Verde
- Costa Rica
How many have you visited? Are there any you want to see now that you know they are making progress in three important areas?
“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act” Leonard Cohen
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You don’t realize how much you talk until someone asks you to be silent. When I arrived at Mont Tremblant’s Scandinave Spa Angelique Papadopoulos, Directrice Marketing greeted our group of weary travelers with a warm smile and an invitation to relax.
She showed us a map of pools, saunas and relaxation areas, and explained how we should start our hydrotherapy with a dip in a hot pool, followed by ten seconds of cold water, and then relax for fifteen minutes before repeating the sequence. “The sequence traps heat in your muscles,” Papadopoulous explained.
The hot tubs and steam bath sounded inviting but the cold choices were leaving me, frankly, cold.
I could stand under a cold shower or if feeling adventurous, hop into the Diable River winding by the spa. I was still reeling from the idea of ruining a warm feeling with an abrupt slosh of cold water when she made one other announcement “no talking in the spa”.
Phones and cameras were verboten – that made sense because I wanted to unplug and relax. But I hadn’t seen the ‘No talking’ edict coming. It seemed the contrast here wasn’t just between hot and cold, but between conversational chatter and quiet, and between looking inward versus outward.
I was eager to take the challenge.
The first pool was easy to slip into, the warm water soothing my tight muscles and the steam rising from the water tickling my nose. I dragged myself out after the prescribed ten minutes and decided I was getting cold for no longer than necessary. I tensed my recently relaxed muscles as I edged under the Nordic waterfall, liters of cold water pounding my shoulders. I gave those water droplets the minimum time needed to cool me off and I was out of there.
The next stop was a large hot pool a few steps from the river. There were other people in the pool but everyone was respecting the silent rule. I didn’t miss the small talk and with nothing to say, closed my eyes without feeling rude, letting the water pull months of tension from my muscles.
Thoroughly warmed, I wandered over to a hammock tucked into the forest along the river. It wasn’t a warm day but I was well-done from the hydrotherapy and laid back in the adult-version of a cradle. I rocked back and forth gazing up at the leaves, noticing veins and patterns I’d been oblivious to only hours before. I was so relaxed I feared I might start drooling!
I headed back for one more dip in the warm waters before lying on a lounger that resembled a half-cracked egg. A gentleman glided into sight with pieces of fruit and water infused with cucumber. “Would you like something?” He asked in a low voice. I was strangely reluctant to speak; the effort to form words suddenly an expensive use of energy. I settled for nodding and sipped the water with an appreciation I usually reserve for a fine Pinot Grigio.
The contrast between hot and cold, speaking and silence had done its work. I was reconnected to my inner guru, however zany she may be, and my mind, body and spirit were united in their relaxation response. The toughest part about this experience wasn’t the cold shower. It was leaving.
If you go:
Quebec’s Scandinave Spas are found at Mont Trembland and in Old Montreal. They are also found in Blue Mountain, Ontario and Whistler, B.C.
Hang your hat at Westin Resort & Spa located in the heart of Mont Tremblant’s pedestrian village and keep the relaxation going by walking to restaurants and shops.
Discover why Mont Tremblant’s Scandinave Spa is a must visit on your travel list: Click to Tweet.
I hope your new year is starting with hope and baby (or big) steps towards your most cherished goals.
For the second year in a row, BBC Travel came out with their celebration of travel and the planet “50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld”.
I was thrilled to contribute (I’m behind reason #33) and the exercise was a chance to reflect on what I love about travel. It’s not the airport hassles!
I love the chance to discover things on my own. I love reading the little signs overlooked by many people or asking a guide how they found passion, for fungi or bears, or whatever has put a sparkle in their eye.
I’m hoping 2017 puts a sparkle in your eye!
Discover “50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld” from @BBC_Travel. Click to Tweet.