There is a vast difference between being a responsible traveller and a tourist. This disparity is a result of how a traveller passes through a place and celebrates it. While a tourist merely consumes a place off its resources, a traveller celebrates it. A responsible traveller is one that connects with their surroundings, seeking the “local” story, becoming a part of everything experienced during the travels. A tourist is an external entity, someone who is disconnected from these surroundings and watches and consumes it in isolation. A responsible traveller values the places that they visit, people they meet, food they try, artisans they talk to, and beaches they basked on.
As a part of the Unventured way of travelling, we value the bond that our fellow travellers share during their tours with us, and believe not only in human interactions, but also in cherishing the surroundings that have been gifted to us. We aim to bring the two together by sensitising our travellers about travelling responsibly. With the hope that, once our network of traveller finish their journeys with us, they spread the word about a greener sustainable way of travel. That is why our connect with our fellow traveller never ends with the end of a trip or the conclusion of a trail, it only grows.
As an attempt to be a conscious traveller, one must broaden their outlook to not just consuming resources in the places they travel to, but help in keeping it sustained, green and support the local economy.
A minor shift in the way we live, we travel, and a slight change in perspective can cause a paradigm shift in the sustainable upkeep of the natural, cultural and historical wealth of any place you travel to.
Here are 5 simple sustainable ways in which you can contribute to a greener way of travel. We’ve taken the liberty to jot down a few points that we strive to follow and that every traveller, commuter, walker, jogger, or cyclist… Whoever it may be, should try and follow. With these 5 simple efforts you can go a long way in ensuring your contribution to the sustainable upkeep of planet earth; starting with the local places you are travelling to.
1. Accept straws only if it is a by-product of a grain
How often have you gone out to relish a nice drink of tender coconut water on a hot summer afternoon? Think about how often you have accepted the colourful, green, blue, red plastic straw. Now imagine how many times you callously threw the exterior of the coconut along with the straw. I am sure, almost all the time.
Wait, is there an alternative?
Of course! The alternative is no straw at all. The challenge with a no-straw approach comes only when we drink coconut water because of the asymmetry in the outlet channel from which we drink. So it should be a given that all other beverages have no need for a plastic straw! The means of drinking coconut water without a straw are challenging but rewarding. It is easy to master in time and when you do, it will be gratifying to know that one sea turtle has been saved from one plastic straw being pierced into its nose!
But for those who cannot live without straws, the other alternative is to get a reusable stainless steel straw or a glass one.
2. Do not plastic baggit!
I always make it a point to carry a small cloth bag with me. But I understand that that can be problematic when you are travelling, and you might need multiple handy bags at your disposal. Small newspaper bags are the best alternative.
3. Be desi or carry your spoons
The joys of eating food with your hands are something that cannot be penned. Personally, for me, food tastes better when you eat them with hands, and tastier when your mother feeds them to you with her hands. But that is a luxury only some can afford. For a person who has a tendency of falling frequently, and is a bit messy, eating with my hands generally requires me to rewind and rethink of all the sloppy incidences I encountered during the day and whether I have a place to wash my hands. That is why I try to take my own spoon (and plate) wherever I go. There have been several instances where I have forgotten to take my spoon, and instead of accepting a plastic spoon, I have either eaten with my hands or not eaten at all.
It is a great habit to carry a spoon with you. Imagine you are having boiling hot sambhar. Would you rather dip a plastic that melts so easily into your sambhar or use a safer steel spoon instead?
4. Filter Coffee tastes best in a steel tumbler
The same logic applies to drinking coffee. Not only are paper/plastic cups hazardous to one’s health in direct and indirect ways, paper and plastic cups are often very difficult to recycle. Since these cups are made from low grade plastics, they generally end up in the landfill. Drinking tea in a nice glass container or coffee in a steel tumbler revives the good old times, and it also makes you feel good about not having to “look” for a place to trash it.
5. Refuse Bottled water
The ill effects of bottled water are not uncommon. Not only do they waste resources, several claims suggest that bottled water does not necessarily contain purified water. Moreover, they are filled with the same tap water that you and I abstain from drinking.
I remember drinking water from a stream with unknown origins. I don’t encourage anyone to take such a flamboyant stand against bottled water. Technology that helps in curbing the use of bottled water is on a rise. Reusable bottles with filters are out in the market, and if you are unsure of the cleanliness of the water, you can always take the help of such bottles!
These are not maxims, they are not hard and fast rules that one must mandatorily apply; rather this is a way of life, a way to travel that one must adopt, embody, and internalise. I admit, I have flouted these rules several times, and felt terribly guilty for having done so. But each time I encourage someone else to follow environmentally sensitive ways of travelling, a part of me gets absolved and that is how one must strive to persuade everyone to show some consideration in the way we lead our lives. Not with ignorance and evasiveness, but with compassion and care.