‘Sustainability’ must be one of the most over-worked words of the last few years, as we try to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet we call home.
Sometimes it feels as though we’re trying to hold back an inevitable tide of global warming, ozone thinning, and sea level rises, but channelling the ambition of King Canute, we can make a difference, each in a small way, which will delay those incoming waves just a little longer.
Travel is of course one of the main casualties of Covid 19. Not just for leisure either, but businesses have quickly adapted to online conferences and video meetings. From nature’s perspective however, it’s been a wonderful break from the impact our activities have on our environment. Pollution levels dropped, air quality improved, and the warming slowed down.
The challenge post-Covid is to rebuild with our planet’s needs in the front and centre of our minds, and here are six little ways in which we can all do our bit:-
- Plan on line. Most of us do, but there’s still a temptation to pick up glossy brochures or print out travel guides to take with us. These days there’s really no need to use paper, when you can carry it all with you on a smart phone or laptop.
- Visit out of season. Why not? Why are you going to your chosen destination? If it’s an event or something fixed in the calendar then clearly you have no choice, but if it’s to enjoy the landscapes, the architecture, the history, the food and drink, then surely it’s better to go when the crowds are gone, the roads are emptier and the prices are lower? It also reduces the impact on some of the most visited spots too.
- Use public transport if you can. If you’re travelling in a group then the car might be the greenest and most cost-effective option, but if it’s just one or two of you consider the bus or train, and possibly a car share scheme for local travel? Many of the scheduled bus routes will take you through spectacular scenery and you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
- Stay longer in one place. There’s a trend for road-trips just now which involve covering long distances in short time frames. Even writing that down feels wrong. How can you really visit the places on the map if you’re only seeing them out of the car windows? Spending a little longer means getting out and walking, or maybe cycling or taking a bus. Shopping, talking to residents, eating the local food delicacies and trying the local beer, gins and whiskies. Spending a little money in local businesses and contributing to the economy, not to the congestion. The relaxed pace, the engagement and the time to draw breath, all make for a much better experience for you as a visitor.
- Leave nothing but footprints. It’s an obvious one, but we still see litter left in remote mountain or loch side locations, presumably by people who’ve gone there to enjoy the beautiful landscapes! It beggars belief, but is probably just casual thoughtlessness in action. If you can bear it, take other people’s rubbish away too. The moral high ground now truly has your name tattooed on it!
- Buy smart. Don’t go to a rural area and take everything you plan to eat and drink with you. Those small shops and independent retailers really value your business. If you run out of something you’ll be relying on them after all, so why not intentionally spend some of your food budget locally too? It’s a good way of getting to know people and perhaps getting some great tips on what to see and do during your extended stay as well!
So, there you have it. You can make a difference.
You heard the story of the girl on the beach carefully picking up stranded starfish and gently placing them back in the sea? A passer by asked her what she was doing, and she explained that they would die if they stayed too long out of the water. ‘But there are hundreds of them’, he said. ‘You can’t possibly make a difference here’. She rescued another starfish as he spoke. ‘Well I made a difference to that one’ she said. Go make a difference!