The Philippines still has plenty of unexplored islands. Remote destinations create the irresistible human desire to discover. This desire eventually attracts commercial tourism, often enjoyed in excess. Still, nothing has to go to ruin. ‘Green travel’ or being conscious of the impact of our actions, no matter how seemingly small, helps toward the preservation of our lands and seas.
True to our thrust of living an inspired life, Pursuit of Passion recommends five ways of enjoying new destinations with minimal environmental impact and maximum feel-good result.
1. Leave some things to chance
Once upon a time, we traveled for chance encounters with wildlife. To be in a destination where we ‘might possibly’ spot rare creatures was in itself part of the excitement. Today, wildlife tourism has become a high selling point for some destinations, disrupting the natural habits and survival of indigenous creatures.
While it’s hard to resist the opportunity of a guaranteed encounter with the cute and the exotic, allow the beauty of surprise to happen in their natural environment. Those planning to swim with the whale sharks, for example, can do so in Donsol, Sorsogon, where interaction with the gentle giants can be enjoyed in their habitat. The tourism office limits the daily number of guests and boat traffic, protecting the waters and its wildlife.
2. Challenge yourself
Conserve Water, a sign reads in your hotel bathroom. It certainly makes sense to reduce water waste and save on energy bills by showering quickly, but this is often easier said than done. Who doesn’t, after all, enjoy a leisurely cool shower on a hot day?
So here’s a fun trick: Play music to keep track of the amount of time you spend under running water. Challenge yourself to a one-song shower, averaging 3 minutes and 30 seconds. You get bonus points for finishing up before the song ends. Lengthy productions like Bohemian Rhapsody don’t count.
But why is it important to cut our consumption when more than 70% of the earth’s surface is water? Because fresh clean water is limited. The water that comes from our seas needs to go through desalination, a costly process. Excessive water consumption can also contaminate the natural groundwater that countless plants and animals rely on, consequently reducing the nutrients we eat in fruits, veggies, and meat. Everything we do comes back to us.
3. Eat local
We’re such foodies, aren’t we? And isn’t eating part of the joys of travel? With food retail chains cropping up everywhere it has become convenient for us to opt for fast food over slow, homestyle cooking. Still, it’s good to be reminded that local produce is healthier, tastier, often served fresher, provide sustainable income for the residents and is great for the environment. Less import and transport of goods mean less carbon emission.
When traveling, look for farmers’ markets and pick-your-own orchards. Speak to the local growers about their recent harvests. Understanding the seasonality of fruits and veggies will help us appreciate and respect the organic cycles of agriculture. And instead of eating at food chains, treat yourself with family recipes served in small, independent eateries.
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4. Travel by land
Traveling overland isn’t always possible in a country with so many islands though whenever possible, choose land transport over air.
According to EarthTalk.org, an environmental Q&A column, ‘four people sharing a car would collectively be responsible for emitting only 104 kilograms of CO2, while the same four people taking up four seats on a plane would generate some 736 kilograms of carbon dioxide’. Carpooling also cuts the cost of travel. And if you want to help micro-economies, using public transport is a sustainable way of contributing towards someone’s income.
Another option is cycling. It’s pollution-free, great for the health and makes for an easier photo break when something interesting comes up the road.
If you must fly, opt for direct or non-stop flights. An aircraft’s carbon emissions are largely produced during take-off and landing cycles. Booking connecting flights consequently multiply the ecological damage.
5. Bring your own bags
How many plastic bags and bottles do we use and dispose of when traveling? Billions.
The Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot and we are cohabiting with tens of thousands of wild species that die out prematurely at the cost of human convenience.
Help preserve our islands and the lives that depend on them by investing in a refillable stainless steel water bottle. They’re handy, easy to carry and most local restaurants will be happy to refill it. Also, keep a reusable canvas bag handy for when you shop local goods and handicrafts.
Every little effort helps.