The new year is a time that many people start planning and booking a vacation. This year, more than ever, making a Wise Choice about where you go, how you get there and what you do there are important factors when making that booking. We can’t all cross the Atlantic in a zero-emissions sailboat (but go Greta!) but we can all make better choices and reduce our impact on the planet and of course our oceans.
Of all the ways to get to your holiday destination, it is, of course, flying that often makes the biggest impact on your personal carbon footprint (watch out for cruises though – they are even worse). Never flying again might be possible for some, but for most of us, there will be a whole host of reasons why you might continue to fly. That said, we can all make a choice to reduce the number of flights we take. Train travel is surging in popularity – and who doesn’t love a train journey! Staycations are all the rage – why not explore your own country or region? Alternatively, instead of flying on several short flights, spend your money on one dream trip (ideally on flights that have high occupancy and to a super eco-friendly destination)
Making it count
Why not consider making the entire vacation mean something? Do you fancy a change from the norm? Choose to make a difference on your vacation and contribute to a marine conservation project. Our WiseOceans Job Board has a whole host of projects and expeditions who need volunteers. Many of these don’t require any previous experience – you can learn ‘on the job’, including learning how to dive on some of them. Even if you are on a ‘regular’ vacation you can take part in a beach clean. If you are booking a dive holiday, make sure your dive operator is committed to diving sustainably – ideally a Green Fins member and consider a Dive Against Debris.
When it comes to where to stay, consider who you want to give your money to. Is it a resort or hotel that is making efforts to be sustainable? Very few places are perfect but it is good to support those who are at least trying to make Wise Choices. Have they chosen to minimise single-use plastic in the bathroom? Do they have energy-saving strategies in place? Are they supporting local environmental causes? Ideally, consider somewhere where sustainability is at the heart of what they do. Chumbe Island Coral Park is a great example – near-zero impact on the environment and a spectacular place to explore the marine life of the Indian Ocean.
Don’t forget to take your reusable cups, bags etc… with you on. Depending on where you go and where you come from there may not be the same level of waste disposal as you are used to. If you can and if it’s appropriate, bring back any plastic, aerosols, batteries (use rechargeable batteries in any case) so that they can be reused or recycled. Spend your money on sustainable local businesses. Being sustainable is not cheap – support those businesses who put sustainability before profit and ensure they thrive. Finally, we know you know not to buy marine-based souvenirs like shells and coral jewellery but consider making Wise Choices about any of the souvenirs you bring home – novelty items are cute, but we really need them?
When it comes to climate change and plastic pollution the size of the challenge can appear to be overwhelming but making small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to the health of our oceans if enough of us do them. It can help us inspire others to make Wise Choices as well as help drive policy changes in both business and government.