by Emmaline Pohl, with Greenheart Travel
Exploring the country and culture doesn’t have to be compromised by staying eco-friendly, but there are definitely things to consider while hiking or taking in the sights of a new place. Your green actions don’t have to end after you return from a hike either. Consider some of these suggestions before you return home and feel good about traveling green from start to finish.
Hiking or Outdoor Trips
Stay on established trails Even though it is very tempting to do so, do not cut new tracks or take shortcuts. It promotes erosion and disturbs the wildlife you are there to see.
Keep an eye out for native flora, especially at high altitudes and latitudes These unique plants and mosses can be slow growing. If you crush them accidentally with your boots, it could take years for the flora to grow back.
Maintain adequate space between yourself and wildlife Learn and honor suggested or legal approach distances. This protects both the animal and yourself. If an animal is behaving differently because of your presence, you are probably too close.
Do your best to pay suggested donations when entering protected wildlife habitats Setting aside these habitats is costly for the organizations and governments; they are giving up land that could be developed or used for food. Show your support by giving the suggested donation (or more!) Your money ensures local conservation efforts and education programs will continue.
Before You Leave
Leave room in your luggage for non-landfill garbage Some items like batteries, plastic packaging, and other things that should not be placed in landfills. To protect the environment of the country you are visiting, “pack out” this waste with you and recycle it once you arrive back home.
Fill out comment cards Praise businesses and lodgings for their environmental consciousness or suggest that they employ more sustainable practices.
After You Return
Encourage others to follow your footsteps Share stories of your trip and how your incorporated sustainability into it; your experiences will inspire others to do the same!