Traveling and touring distant countries may seem to oppose certain substantial facets of sustainability. Tourism increases pressure on local natural resources, increases air pollution, can lead to damaged ecosystems, contributes unwanted noise pollution, and can add to coastal erosion. However, there are a few ways to travel with a smaller carbon footprint. For starters, the website http://www.gstcouncil.org offers numerous tips for relatively sustainable travel, as well as general information about locations and hotels which meet sustainable standards. Some actions that ease the environmental strain of traveling are purchasing carbon emission offsets, buying locally produced products and souvenirs while abroad, staying on designated trails while exploring, and seeking alternative transportation whenever possible.
Ecotourism has become popular in the last few decades, as a way to become an informed and low-impact tourist. Ecotourism brings participants to relatively natural areas, focuses on education, awareness and respect for the area, with funds going directly towards conservation efforts and local sustainable development. Although ecotourism has its drawbacks, it can be an excellent way to aid local communities while still exploring a beautiful new place.
St. John in the Virgin Islands has been a trendy and pricy tourist destination for quite some time. The tiny island also houses beautiful and delicate ecosystems. Concordia Eco-Resort is currently the only lodging there that integrates environmentally protective measures. It features composting toilets, water collection, limited electrical outlets, solar heated water tanks, and other sustainable solutions. Additionally, it is Dark Star Compliant, meaning that the establishment participates in efforts to reduce light pollution. There are a few other similar eco-resorts scattered across the globe. For instance, Alaska, Bermuda, Australia, Turkey, and Madagascar all boast sustainable resorts for your next getaway. Finally, considering choosing a program that allows you to volunteer during your stay, in order to give back to the community that has been hosting you.
Written by Leslie Wolf, Class of 2015