What is Sustainable Travel

What is Sustainable Travel

ecofriendly

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

        There is no better feeling than touching down in a new exotic location for a well-deserved vacation. I thrive off of that feeling of exploring a new place. And after many travel adventures that blissful feeling slowly fades away when considering the damaging mark, I may leave behind after all of my fun.

        This negativity doesn’t have to be the case though. Impactful, positive change is possible on an individual level, and it’s possible through sustainable travel.

Included in this post is:

  • The breakdown of popular environmental buzzwords
  • A description of what sustainable travel is
  • What sustainable travel is NOT
  • Why sustainable travel is important and
  • The benefits of sustainable travel

        There are a lot of buzzwords surrounding sustainable travel – climate change, environmentalism, green living – it can be difficult to understand what they all mean and how they play a part in our travels.

        So, what does sustainable travel mean?

        Well, it can mean many different things for many different people (sorry, you won’t find one singular clear answer here- but you will find a ton of easy to digest information)

I would like to start by thanking you for choosing to help make an even better and healthier planet. Even just by showing interest and reading this article is a wonderful start. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if we make small adjustments and pursue personal growth then we can have an impact on an individual scale.

So, let’s get to it!

What is sustainable travel?

        As stated previously, sustainable travel has many names connotated around the subject. However, the basic premise of what sustainable travel means is to leave behind a positive impact, smaller energy footprint and influence progressive change before, during and after you travels in the environment, culture and location of your travels.

        Yowzahs, that’s a mouthful.

        And this mouthful is because sustainable travel doesn’t mean just one ‘thing’. It doesn’t fit into one definitive definition. It means something different to everyone. So I’ll do my best to break it down for you.

        We live during a time where many of the determining factors of our lives reside on a sliding scale; our sexuality, religion, political views, so it makes sense that our environmentalism and sustainable travels live on a sliding scale as well.

        Our focus for sustainable travel is on long term perseverance, avoiding harm, reducing our negative environmental impacts and utilizing replenishing resources.

UNWTO defines sustainable travel as “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”

Terms you may recognize:

SUSTAINABLE

ECO-CONSCIOUS

ENVIRONMENTALISM

GREEN TRAVEL

Aren’t these terms all the same?

No!

        Collectively they are similar, but side by side they are different. The four terms you may see most often are:

  • Green Travel: green travel means focusing your travel efforts on ways to leave as minimal a carbon footprint as possible.

Example– walking instead of taking a taxi.

  • Responsible Travel: responsible travel means holding yourself and others accountable to respecting locals, destinations and the environment when traveling.

Example– not defacing historical landmarks by scratching your initials in.

  • Eco-Conscious Travel: eco-conscious travel means making economically conscious choices for the environment. It’s comparable to green travel.

Example– purchasing locally made souvenirs instead of something from a souvenir shop

  • Sustainable Travel: sustainable travel embodies all of the above terms and more while traveling in a way that doesn’t take away from the destination.

Consider sustainable travel as three passageways coming together:

  1. The Environmental Pillar: the Environmental pillar focuses on nature & wildlife we impact while traveling. It includes things such as our carbon footprint, water usage, waste (plastic and others) and respecting & maintaining natural habitats of wildlife.
  2. The Social Pillar: The Social pillar focuses on our impact to local people & their cultural communities. As travelers this means supporting locally owned businesses, NGOs and charities, and researching to make sure that wages are fair and work environments are safe.
  3. The Economic Pillar: The Economic pillar focuses on travelers spending money & supporting businesses during their trips for positive outcomes. By supporting locally run hotels, tours and restaurants we can uplift the local economy.

In short, sustainable travel is valuing mother nature, history, culture and respect above our own desires. It’s not just doing good, but also helping to educate others.

What sustainable travel is NOT:

        People tend to feel that sustainable travel means having to sacrifice parts of a vacation or their enjoyment. Or that it implies everyone should stay home and never travel. Neither of these are the case at all.

        Many destinations rely heavily on tourism cash flow. In fact, 1 in 12 jobs are based on tourism WORLDWIDE! And staying put at home only blocks personal growth and cultural understanding.

        Sustainable travel is not about limiting your vacation or trip to accommodate sustainable tactics, it’s about adding greater value. To you and those around you.

Many are quick to point fingers of blame at social media ‘influencers’ and blame them for overtourism (learn what Over Tourism means). And while some ‘influencers’ may need to absorb a lesson about respect and self-control, much of this issue is solely ignorance – ignorance means a lack of knowledge or understanding – they lack the know-how of not walking through unpaved areas, or climbing on roofs for that perfect shot.

Don’t be quick to place blame, instead be swift to help educate.

Unfortunately, there is a strong mindset that many feel, which I’ll call ‘just because I can/want to, I will’ (or I deserve to) 

  • Just because I’m able to flit from one destination to the next, means I will do so (at the expense of flight carbon emissions)
  • Just because I want to eat meat from the menu, I will (and not concern myself with it’s potential to endanger species and deforestation)
  • Just because I have the money to dish out, I will spend it wherever I feel is most convenient (instead of researching a more ethical option)

        Sustainable travel is not a poor man’s way of traveling, it can be whatever you want it to be.

        I’ve enjoyed traveling more luxuriously in nice resort hotels, and I sought out ones that focus on sustainable lodging tactics.

        I’ve treated myself to meals out at fancy local restaurants, and I researched ones that cook with their own fresh and local ingredients.

You don’t need to choose between one or the other.

Why is sustainable travel important?

        Or what I like to say, why should you give a crap about it?

        Sustainable travel is important because planet earth only has a finite amount of resources. As a species, humans have become accustomed to convenience. And this convenience has led to microplastics being found at the depths of our oceans, deforestation of one of a kind ecological systems (like the Amazon), air pollution and more.

        We’ll be leaving our homes in an unrecognizable planet for future generations

Find more of my best sustainable travel resources here!

        Does tourism change a place? Yes. But that is inevitable. If a location is not a sought-out destination yet, it most likely will be at some point no matter what sustainable travel choices we make. It’s up to us to ‘vote’ on how those destinations are built up with our spending habits.

        With an uptick in visitors, comes with it new hotels, tour buses, restaurants catered to the tourists, and much more.

        Most travels are not sustainable; airfare releases carbon emissions, all-inclusive resorts are built on natural habitats, money is the main focus not the longevity of the destination.

        Yet, if we choose to only stay at local residences (if you haven’t checked our AirBnb yet, here’s a discount code for you!), or hotels that focus on sustainable efforts, and only eat at local establishments, then we are voting in support of those ethical practices.

        Like I stated earlier, tourism can provide an annual living for many. So while it can bring with it a lot of destruction, tourism also has the capability to bring a lot of wonderful things as well.

Become a stellar sustainable traveler by following these TOP 12 Sustainable Travel Tips!

What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

        What I love most about sustainable travel is that you can see the ripple effect of ethically spending your money.  Plus there are so many fun, plastic-free, gadgets that you get to tote around!

        One of the best benefits of sustainable travel is the understanding that you ARE making a difference. Your small steps to travel improvements are seen by those around you, even if you don’t notice it.

        We are gifted with the opportunity and options to protect the planet. So instead of acting without concern, let’s travel with purpose and enjoyment.

Heading for a LONG flight soon?

Check out these carry on items to ensure a comfortable flight

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

Follow Along

Visiting the Belize Zoo

Visiting the Belize Zoo

ecofriendly

Why it’s worth a visit (even if you don’t like zoo’s)

The Belize Zoo is a safe haven for orphaned, injured, or misused animals local to Belize.  I’m not a fan of zoos or animal encounters, as so many contain animals in unnatural habitats, living in cement cages, who were ripped from their parents and paid for for human enjoyment.  So, I make sure to do research prior to contributing any funds towards something that could potentially endanger or threaten the quality of life for an animal. With this being said, the Belize Zoo is a gem of a place for the creatures it houses.

        The Belize Zoo started as a simple ‘backyard zoo’ to help house and protect animals that were used on film sets in the 1980’s.  Today it protects animals only natural to Belize’s land in open enclosures (some of which the animals could very easily leave if they wanted to).  It serves as a resource to the country as prior to the zoo existing many did not know of the species native to their country.

        These native animals living at this zoo have come in naturally; meaning they weren’t paid for to complete a set of animals a guest might want to see.  As I stated earlier, this place began on the premise that film set animals needed a refuge after being used for ‘work’ (another post for another time).  Currently many of the animals are rescues of wildfires, hunting accidents/orphaned young, or injured due to loss of habitat.

How unique & precious are tapirs?!

They are very difficult to see in the world and are Belize’s national animal.  To me, they look like a cross between an ant eater and a hippo.

        While still hesitant to visit any zoo, no matter it’s rescue efforts as a cage is a cage to a wild animal, I really enjoyed how the areas that held the animals were much larger than what I’ve seen at any zoo in the United States (with the exception of the San Diego Safari Park).

There were also signs throughout the park educating guests not to pluck any plants, the need for these animals to remain wild and why these animals ended up at the Belize Zoo. And the staff here are caretakers, not just assigned trash pick up or queue directors.

        If you find yourself in beautiful Belize and are able to, try to make time to contribute to the conservation efforts of the Belize Zoo with a visit.  See for yourself and compare to others zoos that you have visited- if you’ve been there, what did you think? Would you agree with how they have built this place?

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

End Note regarding the Belize Zoo:

I do not endorse any zoo or animal encounters of any kind.  I truly believe that animals should be kept in their natural habitat if possible.

Unfortunately, much of Belize land has been changing (tourism increases and buildings) that if an animal’s home is burned or destroyed their last option may be a zoo similar to Belize’s.

Please keep in mind that we are all entitled to our own opinions- if you disagree with mine or the words used in this post feel free to share, but in a respectful and kind manner.

*there is an option to pay to feed one of the jaguars;  I’ll admit I had considered doing this (as jaguars are my favorite big cat) however we connected with someone who used to work at the zoo while on another tour and he told us that he didn’t agree with the direction these encounters were going — as you can now have the jaguar perform tricks (?!) While these animals are well protected and cared for, this type of ‘entertainment’ should not be an option.  Pay to visit the zoo, but don’t fall for the trap of this kind of animal encounter.

If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

Pin me for Later!

Follow Along

A Visit to Crater Lake, Oregon

A Visit to Crater Lake, Oregon

ecofriendly

Winters affect on Crater Lake

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view my disclosure page for additional details.

When I strapped on borrowed snow shoes at Crater Lake National Park, I laughed out loud at how much difficulty I’d have with this simplistic adventure.  With multiple layers of clothing on and too-large-for-me snow pants, two steps in and I was teetering over… fortunately onto 15 feet of snow.  Luckily, the winter weather doesn’t harm the forested surroundings of Crater Lake National Park as much as it hindered my ability to walk.  Inhaling a deep calming breath of crisp air, our national park guide directed through our first (successful) steps on top of the snow into the wilderness surrounding America’s most beautiful lake.

The snow crunching underneath our feet was a rhythm in itself as we snow shoed single file behind our park ranger through a mixture of tall and small pine trees.  He huddled us into a circle for the first of four stops to discuss the winters season impact on Crater Lake.  One of the snowiest places in America, it averages over 40 feet of snow annually.  A burning question of whether this wintery weather is a blessing or a burden to the area was one our guide happily explained throughout our snow shoe trek.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

1. Evolution at its finest:

One of the hikers with us was asked to grab the top of a small pine tree and pull it to the ground. Surprisingly, the tree was pliable enough to bend all the way over like a slinkie.  Throughout time trees that are more pliant have survived the mass snowfall.  The flexibility allows them to bend to the heavy snowfall without breaking.  This progression has allowed the trees to be protected by the snow instead of harmed by it.

2. The annual snow covering

The snow protects the flora from drought and in turn from fire.  So, it keeps everything safe like a big blanket.

 

3. Seasonal animals

Surprisngly animals can thrive in this environment. Shrews, voles and pikas tunnel deep beneath the ground with the snow covering adding an extra layer of warmth overtop of them.

4. Melting Snow

As the snow melts in the warmer months it flows downstream supporting local farmers, wildlife and cities.

5. Crater Lake itself

Probably the most important, the caldera that is Crater Lake exists because of this annual snowfall. No streams or rivers feed into the lake, which is what makes it so clear and blue– zero pollution!

Finishing our snow shoe hike, behind us are the tree covered slopes, in front stunning vistas of Crater Lake.  After a massive eruption almost 8,000 years ago, what used to be the Mount Mazema volcano collapsed and is now home to the cleanest body of water in the world.  The deep blue waters that fill Crater Lake are the deepest, bluest, most clean and clear in the world.

Check out more images from Crater Lake, Oregon by scrolling through the pictures below!

Top TIPS for visiting Crater Lake, Oregon-

  • Snow shoeing is a free activity offered in the winter months; dress warm!!
  • If snow shoeing, bring some extra cash to ‘tip’ the guide; it goes back into the national parks fund
  • Winter months are often dreary so be prepared for a less than stellar view (we just happened to be lucky to visit on a clear day)
  • Only one road is kept open during the winter months due to the difficulty of plowing with high levels of snowfall.  Summer months you can drive around the entire lake.
  • Hiking & skiing can be done here!  Plan ahead for the weather.

You can find some of the winter gear I use here:

Grey Beanie Pom hat: I love this hat because the inside is so soft & fluffy, plus it looks cute with almost any of my other winter gear.  The exact hat is not longer available but I found a few similar items:

Womens Winter Knit Hat

Thick Cable Knit Fuzzy Beanie

Women’s Winter Soft Knitted Beanie

North Face Backpack: I’ve had this backpack for years!  Its very comfortable to wear on your shoulders & I love how it’s cushioned so I feel comfortable traveling with delicate items in it.  It’s also durable for outdoor activities.  It doesn’t look like this color pattern is available anymore but here is the style:

North Face Classic Backpack

Follow Along

Eco-Friendly Tips for the Beach

Eco-Friendly Tips for the Beach

ecofriendly

Five simple tips to help keep our beaches clean

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view my disclosure page for additional details.

When choosing a destination for a vacation one of the most popular reasons for going will be a place with stunning views and landscapes.  In order for these destinations to be desirable they are well maintained by someone who is being paid to do so, and some beaches cannot keep up with the trash pollution (hello tides bringing things in and out).

        Beaches are easy places for people to leave behind garbage because the assumption is that ‘I won’t be coming back here so not my problem anymore’, or a personal “favorite” of mine is the assumption that someone will clean up after you.  It’s confusing to think about how and when that mindset settled in, but the reality is no one is coming in after you to clean up your mess on a beach.  Beach clean ups are great, but they are a band-aid over a bigger problem, not a solution.  So, I’ve put together a simple list of things YOU can do to prevent waste and be eco-friendly on your next beach visit.

Five Friendly Tips to help keep our beaches clean

1. CARRY A (REUSABLE) WATER BOTTLE

Instead of purchasing another plastic water bottle, reuse one you already have or carry a sturdy reusable bottle with you.  It’ll be a great reminder to fill it up and stay hydrated, and it saves plastic from being left behind.

Here is a resusable water bottle that I really like

*My suggestion would be to not invest too heavily into a reusable bottle that you will travel with.  I once had an empty water bottle tossed via a secondary, full plane, re-check of our carry on luggage with the reason being I couldn’t have any bottles of any kind…

2. BRING A REUSABLE CLOTH SHOULDER BAG OR GROCERY BAG

        Plagues are to human destruction, as Plastic is to the ocean… alright, my attempt at an analogy may not be great, but the point I’m trying to make is that plastic is the devil- especially to our oceans.  Avoid plastic like a plague and always bring a reusable bag with you.  Some clothing stores use cloth bags, such as Free People and Verge Girl, that you can reuse or use a reusable grocery bag.  They are lightweight and very useful.

These cloth bags are a great size for a long day spent at the beach

3. WEAR REEF-SAFE & CRUELTY FREE SUNSCREEN

Coral reefs maintain and protect vast parts of our oceans.  They can be bleached and die from oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are main ingredients in many mainstream sunscreens.  They are toxic to our oceans.  Protect marine life and coral reefs by wearing reef-safe and cruelty free sunscreens.

I am currently working on reviewing various sunscreens that fit into this category to share which ones are best for protection, quality and for your dollar.  In the meantime, here are brands that I have heard of:

  • Sun Bum; I use their 30 spf
  • Hang Ten
  • Jason Mineral
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
  •  Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen
  • Bare Republic

*search for mineral and zinc oxide based sunscreens

4. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD

Packing your own food will allow you to use reusable Tupperware and avoid horrific items like foam packaging and plastic straws.  While at home I use the Pyrex brand, but for travelling these silicone bags are great (plus they have cute little pandas on them too)

If you bring items that are individually wrapped, such as protein bars, be sure to…

 

5. TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU

Some beaches will have garbage bins on the beach, which is wonderful!  However, beaches are windy places.  When the wind starts it’ll pick up whatever lightweight items are in a garbage bin and float them away.  Use that reusable bag you’re going to bring with you and store your trash in there to toss out at home or at your lodging.

        That’s it!  Five very simple things you can easily do to help preserve beaches.  It’s incredible to think about how simple these five tasks are and even more incredible how impactful you, as an individual, can be utilizing these tips.

Share this post with someone you go to the beach with so you and your team can be prepped for the beach that all you have to do is enjoy the the rays & the waves!

Follow Along