Eco-friendly holidays: Safe, serene and sustainable

Be it reducing carbon footprint or supporting local businesses whilst traveling, modern-day travel goals are getting a complete overhaul

From relaxing at pristine beaches to exploring wide variety of wildlife, we are constantly in a quest to find the perfect holiday destination. But pandemic gave plenty of time to pause and re-imagine the way we travel. No wonder, the constant urge to plan a quick weekend getaway is now being replaced by mindful travel choices, where focus is on meaningful experiences and reducing the carbon footprint.

Highlighting the importance of environmentally-conscious vacations, travel writer Shivya Nath, says, “The way we choose to travel can have a significant impact – positive or negative – on the places we visit, the people who live there and the local ecology. Responsible travel means contributing to the local economy and having a positive impact on the environment.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Kumar Anubhav, founder, NotOnMaps, that curates unique travel experiences, believes that one needs to change the mindset first. “People have realised to live sustainably and the need to promote the eco-system but it all begins with implementation and execution of the choice. The idea is to consume what you need and leave for others,” he shares.

Experts from the travel industry share ideas to switch to eco-friendly travel.

Plan better, stay longer

“Instead of trying to cover multiple places, slow down for a few days, weeks or months in one spot and explore it thoroughly, perhaps even while working on the go,” suggests Nath, adding, “This can reduce our transport footprint and allow us to contribute to the local economy by adopting the local way of life.”

Eco-friendly lodging choices

Amit Damani, co-founder, Vista Rooms, highlights the significance of adopting eco-friendly measures at the places of stay. “One of our villas in Nainital has many eco-friendly features such as solar water heating, rainwater harvesting, a soak pit to filter grey-water and a sustainable recyclable sewage management system,” he shares. Nath too, recommends eco-friendly accommodations. “For instance, places that are co-owned by the local community, use renewable energy to power up, segregate, compost their waste, should be preferred”, she shares.

Eat local

Travel blogger and writer, Shubham Mansingka outlines importance of eating at restaurants that use local ingredients and fresh produce. “I can’t advise to people to eat at dhabhas during the current situation of a pandemic but surely encourage travellers to eat regional produce as they [locals] get an incentive to cultivate more,” says Mansingka who discovered a local vendor in Kasar Devi situated in Almora district of Uttarakhand selling momos made of madua atta, a staple in the region which is a flavourful grain with a high protein content.

Buy sensible souvenirs

Instead of bringing back refrigerator magnets from your trip, indulge in purposeful gifts and souvenirs. Mansingka says, “Buy local handicrafts to support the community. In hilly regions of Kumaon, local women make pine needle baskets. Think of souvenirs that are ethically prepared by producers or artisans.”

Eco-conscious activities

For an environmentally responsible holiday, only indulge in activities which have no adverse impact on the ecology of the region. Experts suggest to pick low footprint activities such as cycling or kayaking, experiencing wildlife with ethical operators and helping local businesses.

No plastic policy

Eco-friendly alternatives are not only important for travellers but even hospitality industry is making responsible choices. Aditi Balbir, founder and CEO of V Resorts, says, “Travel etiquettes are being changed. Hotels are shifting to no-plastic policy. There are now alternates to even replace the plastic garbage bag. The best way is to tie up with local entrepreneurs, sustainable vendors and startups making organic products and toiletries, among others.”

Carrying own essential

Anamika Sengupta , co-founder, Almitra Sustainables, a sustainable lifestyle brand, points that one should not leave traces to spots that they visit. “Often we visit serene destinations but what we leave behind is our plastic and garbage foot prints. We urbans can’t think of travel without buying plastic bottles and all sort of disposables. Carrying own cutlery, tiffin boxes, water bottles, should be a compulsory check before travel.”

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