Today we welcome guest blogger Jonny Hamburg to our blog. Jonny shares some helpful tips and suggestions on how you can embrace eco travel during your upcoming adventures throughout the world as well as what to avoid while traveling. We hope you enjoy his post!
Eco Travel – How to Help the Environment by Being More Mindful
by Guest Blogger | Jonny
If you’re one of the many travelers across the globe with the hopes of keep your mindful and eco friendly lifestyle intact while on the road, you have certainly come to the right place. Through my own personal experiences of living on a tropical Thai island for over a year, I’m able to give you some helpful tips and suggestions on how you can embrace eco travel during your upcoming adventures throughout the world as well as what to avoid while traveling.
Respecting the Environment
If you have had the grand privilege of visiting various countries throughout Asia or other third world countries, you know that gone are the days of white sand beaches free from trash and debris. Instead, due to the increase of tourism, beaches and towns are now quite the opposite in most cases.
As you travel throughout destinations that are experiencing this issue of not quite encouraging eco holidays, it now becomes part of your responsibility to do your part in helping the earth. You’ll certainly witness both the locals and other fellow travelers discarding trash like plastic bags, straws, glass bottles, and of course the common cigarette butt littering. It is vital to keep in mind that not placing these items in the proper trash can or bin can have a grave effect on both land life and marine life.
It is also important to note that in these places, there are typically not nearly as many available trash cans to throw rubbish into. With that in mind, simply keep a small bag on hand that you can place your trash in until you come across a proper trash bin to discard it.
If you are traveling to places like Thailand from the U.S. or Europe, you may already be used to the fact that certain items should NEVER be flushed down the toilet including feminine hygiene products, Q-tips, medication, floss, or condoms. However, this becomes an even bigger issue in Asian countries like Thailand due to the extremely small drains and sewage pipelines. In order to avoid issues, be sure to dispose of any and all of these items in the proper bin, which of course in turn helps to enhance smart travel and is another way to help the environment.
Avoiding “Green Washing” Tourist Traps
Though small strides have been made towards being a more eco friendly holiday destination, a lot of companies and even restaurants in places like Thailand have yet to embrace the idea of eco tourism. As you begin to research various green or eco friendly places to stay and visit during your holiday, you will notice that several companies claim to provide their guests with such amenities. However, you need to be aware of the fact that not all of them are being authentic when it comes to eco tourism. They have created a false demeanor that is now referred to as “green washing” in which they act as if they are eco friendly only in order to gain customers. Some even go so far as to altercate fake certifications that claim they are helping to “save the planet”. Be aware, read reviews, and be smart while deciding which places you are going to help support with your business.
Using Thailand as an Eco Friendly Learning Experience
As mentioned before, I was able to spend a substantial amount of time on one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations – the beautiful island of Koh Tao. Though smaller in size, Koh Tao sees more than 100,000 tourists per year all hoping to have the time of their lives; and in doing so, they often forget what negative impacts they are imposing on the environment around them. It is now a fact that because of the large amounts of tourists visiting these Thai islands, the garbage being produced by them is now growing into massive mountains.
As you are preparing to head out to these gorgeous tropical destinations, be sure to stay mindful of the fact that all the trash that is unable to be burned must be transported off the island. With no disposal facilities or departments that are put in charge of cleaning the beaches and public spaces of these islands, it is the job of each eco traveler to his or her part in helping the earth.
What I Have Learned as an Eco Traveller
I became a dive instructor in 2014 at one of the biggest PADI dive schools in the World. Bans diving Resort on Koh Tao. Living on a small tropical Island that is frequented by an enormous amount of visitors each year has taught me a few things about ways to help the earth and the environment. We have to have a more mindful approach to traveling or else we soon won’t have anywhere left to travel to. Responsible tourism is the way to go but we can only achieve that by finding ways to help the earth and by becoming a more mindful eco traveller.
For me, an Eco Traveller or Eco tourist is someone who is a guest in that country and therefore enjoys smart travel. They want an excellent holiday while minimizing the environmental impact of their travels so as not to abuse the hospitality that country provides them. The dive school I taught at has already taken an eco friendly tourism approach and helping the earth by doing the following steps:
· Plastic, glass bottles and used paper are separated for sale for recycling and the money in return is used for clean-up projects.
· Natural and organic waste is dried and reused as fertilizer. Waste water is treated and reused in the hotels garden.
· Energy saving lights bulbs are used in the resort and staff lodgings. Solar cells are used for water heating.
· Plastic use is minimized. Their own brand of plastic bags is biodegradable and reusable fiber bags are promoted as an alternative.
If one of the biggest dive schools in the world can have an extensive eco program, we should all be able to do our part to help. Working with them certainly inspired me to do more and to take action while I still can. While I was there as a dive master I used to help on the beach clean-ups once a week and also the reef clean ups when we had them. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is not much more disgusting than having a plastic bag stick to your leg while you are diving or snorkeling and seeing animals like turtles mistake them for jellyfish and end up eating them.
Related Post: How to avoid plastic and minimize waste while traveling
5 Simple Things You Can Do To Help
1. Put trash into your own rucksack or fabric bag
2. Say “NO” to plastic straws or give them back if you are handed one
3. Ask the hotel or guesthouse you are staying at what they are doing in terms of recycling
4. Spread the awareness by sharing this article and others like it
5. Get involved – join in on a beach clean-up or make your own day of it
More about Jonny
TRAVELER ★ DIVER ★ DIGITAL NOMAD
Website (COMING SOON!) – Jonny Hamburg
Travel is in my blood my great granddad tried to immigrate to the USA 4 times but was always turned away. The first flight I ever did was a 12-14 hour flight from Hamburg to Miami. Later I moved to England for a couple of years and have been more or less traveling since. I had a good paying Job running a couple of shops for a mobile provider but I wasn’t really happy. Then after my first trip to Thailand in January 2014, backpacking through the country and doing my Open Water Scuba diver course, I got home and felt empty. That’s when my longing for travel got bigger than the fear of the unknown. It took me another half a year to quit my Job and to sell most of my belongings. End of July of the same year I moved to Thailand and became a Dive Instructor. This is where I helped with a lot of beach clean ups and got a clear picture of what over fishing and unregulated disposal of plastic does to the environment, this in turn made me want to GET INVOLVED.