Happy Earth Week, Passion Passport community! In honor of Earth Day 2019, we’re bringing you new sustainable travel content every day this week, with each story aiming to celebrate eco-travelers, low-impact ways of living, and explorations that honor both people and places. We hope we inspire you to travel with the environment in mind.
Our world wouldn’t be the same without its many creatures — bees, whales, elephants, coral reefs. These animals and organisms are intrinsic to our planet, and right now they need our protection. Here are three ways you can help!
Shopping can be an impulsive habit. We’ve all had instances where we think we need something that we really just want. If we understand that less is more, and shop with our planet’s species in mind, we can make a huge difference in the fight to protect them.
Avoid consumables that are produced unethically, or that put certain species in direct danger. If you’re wondering where to start, look into limiting your palm oil consumption. Palm oil trees are grown solely in tropical climates, most notably in Indonesia and Malaysia, but because the oil is found in everything from ice cream to beauty products, there’s a huge demand for it. To meet such high demands, companies are wiping out entire rainforests, which means that a number of animals such as tigers and orangutans are seeing their habitats destroyed. Since palm oil is found in so many of our everyday products, avoiding it completely is a tall task, and it becomes even taller when you learn that plenty of big corporations are known for intentionally listing the ingredient as “vegetable oil” on their labels. However, being aware and diligent toward this issue is better than doing nothing.
Also think about supporting local businesses in your shopping. Lots of excess plastic is wasted to simply package and ship goods over long distances (take a stroll through a nearby supermarket and you’ll see). Because of this, an alarming amount has found its way into oceans and other water ecosystems, disrupting the lives of everything from whales to plankton. But luckily, package-free shops and stores are on the rise. Some of these reside solely online, while others might be right around the corner from where you live. If it’s the latter, what a great excuse to get out and support your neighbors while protecting the world’s species, too.
Travel Smarter (and Maybe Less)
There’s no hiding the fact that the ever-growing tourism industry has had a negative effect on biodiversity around the world. As a community of explorers and adventurers, we have a responsibility to travel with good intentions, and to avoid traveling just for the sake of it. Instead, slow down and see the world with deliberation — make your trips mean something. Different habitats and ecosystems around the world are struggling because of how many trips are being taken, leading to some locations to close their doors to visitors entirely to try and regain control of their natural state. Before taking off on your next adventure, be sure to familiarize yourself with your destination. Are there endangered species there? Is there a national park that’s breaching an unstable amount of visitors? After arriving, keep those good intentions in mind. Choose only ethically operated tour companies when signing up for a safari or diving excursion, and remember to leave no trace. Whether it’s a road trip or a weekend getaway to a national park, there are ways to limit your imprint on the natural world. Because at the end of the day, protecting our world’s species is much more important than scratching off another item on your bucket list or snapping the perfect picture.
Saving the world’s species can seem like an impossible task. But even if your contribution to the solution is small, doing something is better than nothing. One easy step to take is starting your own garden. Doing so is a great way to create a safe environment for native species (think birds, bees, and bugs). If you’re reading this and thinking you need a big yard to have a garden, think again. Plant some flowers on your apartment balcony, or hang a few birdfeeders. You can also look into community-led gardens in your town or city if you feel that your abode isn’t fit for such endeavors. Though it may not seem like a big contribution, or one as special as volunteering at an elephant sanctuary, these kinds of actions can make a difference. Just remember to avoid harmful pesticides, especially neonicotinoid pesticides (this really helps the bees, which our planet needs more of).
Another way to take action is by volunteering. We all have more time than we think, so consider spending some of it helping your fellow species. Find local initiatives to get involved with — both in your hometown or wherever you’re traveling. This could come in the form of cleaning up a beach or hiking trail, planting trees, or even adopting an animal. It also doesn’t hurt to sign petitions or write letters to your local change-makers. You don’t have to save the world right away, but if you focus on what’s in front of you, it can have a profound effect on the bigger picture when it’s all said and done — and the animals will surely thank you.
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Header image by @ingwe911.