As a traveler both in the United States and around the world, there’s one thing that’s becoming more important to me, our environment. Travel has and always will be an important pursuit for me, but I’m starting to see more and more how it affects our world. After seeing photos of beaches filled with pollution and garbage after nights of partying or learning about how out decisions affect cultures during our travels, I’m finding travel is influencing me to realize how important it is to respect the people and the world around us. I’m not perfect when it comes to sustainability, and no one is, but having set small steps towards sustainable goals have encouraged me to think about travel differently. After joining the International Ecotourism Society, I’m interested in taking on other opportunities for ecotourism, but what exactly is ecotourism? The International Ecotourism Society defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of local people, and involves interpretation and education.” To see what I mean, here are a few quotes to inspire you to travel with ecotourism in mind:
“Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.” – John McConnell, founder of International Earth Day
“Peasant people … don’t have a chance to share in the riches that the planet can offer because some people are taking off so much of the pleasures of this world, and there’s only so much to go around.” – Sister Dorothy Stang, an eco-activist nun from Dayton, Ohio, who in 2005 was murdered in the Brazilian Amazon
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
“It wasn’t just the beauty of seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat that moved me. It was the passion with which the park rangers and guides spoke of preserving this incredible gift for generations to come, and the way locals spoke of ecotourism as their hope for a better and brighter economic future.” – Green Global Travel
“At Gardens by the Bay, I felt the future – and it’s more beautiful that what I have ever expected. A future that is not just flashing lights and cutting-edge extravaganzas. A future in which humankind has understood that ‘eco-friendly’, ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘sustainability’ are not just buzzwords for press releases to convince the public that ‘we are doing the right thing’.”–The Crowded Planet from their blog post “Finding Nature in Singapore.”
“Step outside into nature for a minute. You can hear her breathe, feel her light kiss on your skin. She’s so beautiful; every single part of her is breathtaking. This is why you travel, is it not? To try to see as much of her as you can before she takes you away and turns you into a memory. But by seeing more and more of her you are essentially causing her more and more harm. Aeroplanes tare through her layers, wheels crush her fragile hairs. Don’t you want to preserve her and keep her looking fresh and alive? Responsible tourism is something that all dedicated travellers should be thinking about. Strive to leave a minimal negative impact on her and she will give tirelessly, endlessly.” – Castaway with Crystal from her blog post “How to be a Green Traveller.”
From these quotes, I hope you can see how much our actions affect not only the environment but also the local cultures we visit. This year as I’m planning on more international and local travel, I’m beginning to think more about my footprint, and not just because I’m a sustainable and ethical fashion blogger who’s looking for a great pair of boots for fall and winter. The sites I see today or in the future I hope more generations can experience and enjoy, and the steps I can turn into daily habits will make all the difference in what’s next for our planet.
How do you think we can preserve the environment and culture while traveling? What steps will you take to reduce your wear on nature and local cultures?
This post is a part of Monday Escapes hosted by Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday hosted by Bonnie Rose and Slightly Astray, Little Things Thursday hosted by Little by Little and Sweet Inspiration hosted by My Sweet Things, Repurposing Junkie, Kreativ K and The Boondocks Blog.