Week 5 - Green Holidays
It's easy to be green when at home but what about when you go on holiday. What steps can you take to ensure your holiday is as green and therefore as sustainable as possible. Here are 7 ways to help you.
1. Go independentBooking a holiday direct with a cottage owner is generally better for the local environment. It means all the rental goes to them without a chunk of it lining the pockets of large multinational corporations who are more interested in profit than sustainability. Independent holiday cottage owners buy locally, support their local economy/community and encourage local prosperity which are all good for helping to maintain regional diversity and the distinct character of where you are on holiday. By all means use the big companies to find a holiday but then search online for their own website. There are also numerous Facebook Groups such as Book Your Holiday Direct with the Owner.
2. Ask travel companies/hotels/tour operators for their environmental policyIn some cases large hotels and complexes are built to less than high environmental standards and on locations that have a negative environmental impact, sometimes even on protected habitats. If you do use a large travel company, stay in a larger chain hotel or use a tour operator ask what policies they have to help the environment. Do they recycle, compost, collect rainwater, donate environmental charities, support local businesses etc?
3. Support the local communityAvoid mass produced tourist goods and buy gifts from local artisans and small shops. Do some of your food shopping at the market or farm shop and eat in small independent restaurants. It is not advised to not give sweets to children or money to beggars as this only serves to encourage more of the same. If you do want to help the local poor donate to a local refuge or charity instead.
4. Protect the area where you are stayingDon't drop litter and don't overuse electricity or water. Avoid picking wild flowers as they may be rare (even if they are common back home). Why not try to learn about the area you are staying and of there is anything you can do to help protect it? Anything made from the following materials should be avoided as they come from, at best, non sustainable resources and, at worst, illegal materials: Coral, turtle shells, ivory, tropical hard woods.
5. Use Public Transport, cycle or walkWhy not try a holiday without your car? Look at places where you only need to walk or you can hire bicycles and if you do want to venture further afield look at taking the bus.
6. Look for holidays that have Green certificationHoliday cottages and companies who show a firm commitment to the environment can be awarded Green certificates making it easier for you to identify them. These include Green Tourism awards in the UK and the Travelife for Sustainability System globally. There are also companies like Organic Holidays and the EcoGite classification with Gites de France. However just because somewhere does not have an accreditation does not mean it isn't green. Our gite doesn't but we have worked hard to create a green holiday location for you and your family. Have a look at our website here - Eco-Gites of Lenault.
7. Go on a conservation working holidayCity breaks, skiing, beach holidays - there is another alternative. What about a conservation working holiday? The are opportunities in the UK with the National Trust, Trust for Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and The Wildlife Trusts. On an international scale what about working on an organic farm with WWOOF or helping disadvantaged communities through companies such as ActionAid.
Going on holiday does not have to mean that you lose your green principles and by choosing carefully you can help the environment at the same time. Have you any further tips about taking a green holiday or have you taken a particularly green holiday? Please do let me know in a comment.