Happy Earth Day! Here is a little story about tourism and it’s impacts on the earth… When I used to live in Vancouver, I used to walk the seawall almost daily. In the summer when everyone flocked to English Bay for a day or afternoon at the beach the local public garbage cans along the way would get so full as would Davie and Denman Streets, two arteries leading straight to those glimmering Vancity shores.
I often wondered if everyone brought their own cup or grabbed their own to go containers from home for their delicious Persian Grill schwarma or Hime sushi platter, maybe the cans wouldn’t get so full. Though the beaches are full of both locals and tourists alike from about April to October, in Vancouver, the waste increase just seems huge during those months.
Maybe if we all made one or two little adjustments to the way we travel we could protect Mama Earth from the ill effects of the not-so-green impacts of our collective travel habits. Here are five ways to reduce your impact when you plan your next trip on our truly beautiful Mama Earth.
Offset your air travel. If you’re in Canada try visiting less.ca. This website allows you to offset your next flight’s carbon offsets by investing in low carbon projects in Canada and around the world. For example to offset a flight from my local airport (Sandspit) to Vancouver, it would cost $9.17 that could be invested in dispensing chlorine tablets in Uganda, wastewater treatment in Thaland or landfill gas management in Fredericton. https://www.less.ca/en-ca/flights.cfm
Bring your own dang cup. Or to go container or plate/cutlery. Gah. We’ve all seen the photos of the plastic gyre or photos of turtes with little plastic bags hanging out of their mouth. Doesn’t it make you think, “what are we doing to this precious earth?” An easy way to lower your waste is to ust bring a coffee cup or water bottle and a to go container. Imagine how much throw away waste you could avoid. LC Hunter of Birdgehls has a really great round up of things to pack in order to go plastic free.
Plan a staycation. Leaving Haida Gwaii means taking a big boat or a plane. So a great way to avoid a big carbon footprint is to explore my own backyard. Masset, is one of my favourite places to staycation. It has endless sandy beaches, some pretty yummy eateries and is just over an hour drive away so it feels like I’m heading out somewhere far away(ish).
Ride the train or take the heel toe express. One of my favourite trips was when I visited a friend in Queens, NYC in 2006. Because she had to work the week I was there, I ended up walking all over Manhattan, Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn between subway rides. What a way to see the city. Before you go research transit costs, maps, websites. Or grab a city map, or download maps in your phone for easy heel toe navigation. Make Earth Day every day and find out the closest park to have a picnic at while you explore – make a day of it.
Find out what food is in season. Eat local. Eat fresh. Find out what fruit and veggies are in season and don’t have to travel 1000s of miles to be on your plate. Grab some snacks from the local farmer’s market or farm stand. Be an adventurous eater and try to eat locally grown/made delicacies as much as possible. In the US you can use the Seasonal Food Guide to find out what’s fresh. In Canada, Sobey’s has some great regional food guides on their website, like this beauty about Western Canada.
How do you lower your environmental footprint when you travel? I’d love to hear your tips or hacks in the comments below.