Traveling around the world is a wonderful way to learn about other cultures and find more respect and appreciation for the entire planet.
Traveling around the world is a wonderful way to learn about other cultures and find more respect and appreciation for the entire planet. Many people who travel are nature lovers who only want to see more of the world they enjoy. Unfortunately, tourists are often unintentionally harming the planet they adore during their adventures. Here are some of the ways this is happening, and what people can do to avoid negatively impacting the places they visit.
Keeping Natural Souvenirs
People love to bring home a little piece of where they have been. This could be a rock from a mountain trail, seashells from the beach or a pretty flower to press and frame. The problem is that these are not harmless actions with no repercussions. Removing a stone can lead to erosion and leave the creatures who rely on it for shelter homeless. The risk of seeds or pests remaining with flowers is great and can cause invasive species to settle into other areas. When large numbers of shells are collected off beaches, it removes homes and hiding places for numerous species and it robs the beach of the nourishment of decaying shells. Instead of bringing things home, take a picture or make a sketch. This way the beauty of these items can be remembered, and the part of the world where they originated will stay undamaged.
Choosing Fast Food
Studies have estimated that the waste from fast food restaurants makes up approximately 50 percent of the litter on the streets of the United States. Very little of what fast food restaurants hand out is ever recycled. While these locations are an easy answer for quick and convenient food, they are causing too much damage. Instead, find farmers markets and grocery stores and stock up on food in these locations. Bring reusable bags to avoid the paper or plastic issue, and if dining out is a necessity, choose a restaurant that uses real plates and utensils, rather than disposable.
Some hotels are adopting eco-friendly measures, which helps environmentally-minded travelers enormously. Red Roof Inn, for example, has created an environmental program called “Staying Red, Going Green”, which involves the installation of energy-saving devices and Greenworks-approved materials. If you’re traveling on a budget but want to keep your environmental impact as low as possible, you can save on lodging by using Red Roof Inn coupons from Discountrue.com.
Using Natural Resources
Tourists may believe they are protecting the environment when they are camping, but they can still leave an impact. Deforestation is a huge problem all over the planet, and tourists are contributing to this problem unintentionally in many popular camping areas. Do not cut down any trees or purchase camp fire wood. Instead looking for dropped twigs and branches to use, or bring solar lights and cook stoves.
Producing Carbon Emissions
Globally, 5 percent of all CO2 emissions are caused by the tourism industry. Transportation causes the majority of this problem, with air travel leading the pack as the most impactful. Choosing alternative methods for reaching the destination is not always possible, but should be chosen when it is available. To help out further, avoid continuous sightseeing trips that cause more pollution. Instead, bike, walk or stay in one place to reduce impact.
No one is suggesting that all travel should end. Tourism is an important part of the economy for many areas, and traveling makes people more empathetic and well-rounded. What needs to happen is for more people to become aware of the very real impact their journeys have on the world, and how they can reduce that impact without compromising their comfort or fun.
Emma Sturgis, the author of this post, is a freelance writer from Boston, MA.
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