Updated: Mar 12
Are you planning an outing? Take a couple of minutes before you head towards your favorite
destination to read this wlog guiding Trash-Less-Tour.
With the release of the COVID19 vaccine in India and many other countries, people are pretty back to pre-COVID19 life routine which is of course not exactly the same as before. An important aspect of that is, traveling around without any worry and fear. Yes, people are wearing masks but also have started visiting holiday destinations to relax and spend joyful moments with friends and family. After all, everyone missed these moments for quite a longer duration.
The tourism industry is an essential one from economic growth and employment generation perspective. But what often not taken into account is its negative impacts especially on the environment. And that includes the waste caused by this sector too. According to the data mentioned in an article, tourism in India accounts for 30% of waste from an estimated 62 million tonnes generated by the nation annually. This number seems on the higher side and yet we do not see much awareness in this sector and the people. We are witnessing huge garbage piles on beach sides, hills, heritage sights, and tourist attraction points. We see many social groups running clean-up drives enthusiastically. And, yet we see this trashy mindset in people is still the same.
Hence, Sustainable Tourism is a need of today where tourism shall take full responsibility for its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts while it is serving its purpose. Many tourism companies are putting emphasis on sustainable tourism practices to minimize the negative impacts of the industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has included tourism as a part of SDGs for meeting exactly the same intent.
I think the key responsibility goes to the policymakers, government, accommodation facilities, food facilities, local markets at tourist sites, travel industry, tour operators, and whoever small-big vendor serves the tourists. Yes, the waste generated at all such places should be managed very responsibly. With the increase in tourism, the waste generated by the sector will increase in proportion. As per UN Environment Research Data: In a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, tourism would generate through 2050 an increase of 154% in energy consumption, 131% in greenhouse gas emissions, 152% in water consumption, and 251% in solid waste disposal. So we all need a fast move to bring sustainability in this sector too. I think the first action can be to provide facilities on a large scale so that tourists can make a conscious choice not to litter. And next is to have tourism waste recycling facilities which can be another source of employment.
But, what we as an individual who travels around can do in this matter? I would say, a lot!
I believe the generator of the waste is the one who shall at least ensure that their waste is taken care of properly. And they are also the ones who can minimize waste generation during the tour by following a few sustainable practices and guidelines.
Here is a quick checklist that can save a lot of trash getting generated, and going into the wrong place where it remains unattained.
Carry an Eco-Cutlery: Carry your own spoon, straw, plate, cup, and glass. Where ever you eat and don't see sustainable servings, use your own.
Carry a Trash Bag: Carry a trash bag to collect your waste like entry passes, tickets, empty snack packets, and stuffs not required.
Get Rid of Paper Napkins: Why? The Data says paper accounts for 25% of the landfill and 33% of municipal waste. And, if we know we can go paperless and use sustainable options, why contribute more to solid waste?
Carry a 'Sustainable Eye': That means, look for sustainable options around, in accommodation, in eating, and while shopping.
Do Not litter: Of course, this is the must of all. We already see our mountains, valleys, roads to tourist sights getting full of garbage, we need not add more to it.
Don't Leave the Place Dirty: Where ever you step out of your vehicle, make sure you are not leaving the place dirty, especially during small outings and picnics where people stop by an open area and have their meal under a tree.
Use Restrooms and Toilets Responsibly: Most often we see restrooms and toilets at public places are unclean and carry waste items like sanitary pads, diapers, cigarette buts, etc. Do we do this at our homes? Then why in public? Think about this and act responsibly!
Follow Correct Ethics: We are tempted to follow wrong habits and ethics just because they seem easy and unaffecting to us at the moment. Even if you see a lot of trash around, people littering, and leaving places dirty, make sure YOU are not tempted to copy their actions. Be different!
Care for the Life There: Yes, once we are back home, we are safe from the trash we created at some tourist point we visited. But the residents and other lives from those places do get affected by our trashy actions. So, let's be empathetic towards them.
Ask and Suggest: Wherever you go and see unsustainable services like servings with plastic straw or cup, please ask to provide non-plastic ones, and also suggest them alternatives if they are unaware of.
Plogging: Plogging is new jogging with collecting plastics and garbage on the way. And, we all know our Prime Minister Modi Ji has also set an example by doing plogging activity. So, let's add some fun and value education during our vacation by doing plogging.
People generally go on vacations and want to be in a new place for some time to find a new thrill and new thoughts for living. Modern stress demands to break out into Jungles, Mountains, Beaches, and Lovely Scenic Places. While you all do this, take a moment to think about your trash and the people who work hard cleaning up the trash. Let's also think about the trash in nature which is usually getting left unaddressed. And, keep taking actions of your capacity.
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means. - Albert Einstein
And, with all this in mind, don't forget to enjoy your vacations at the destinations of your choice with all the safety measures.
Dear readers, do comment or share your recent picnic or travel experience and what you observed with respect to trash around tourist sites. You can share them on our social pages or on our email email@example.com.
Tell us more about your tiny actions to reduce waste during travel and sightseeing.
Happy Sustainable Tourism and Happy Trash-Less-Tours!
Bharati Bastade Koot - #BBK
- an eco-warrior, humanist, minimalist who 'Writes for Impact', and a firm Believer in 'taking actions for the change that we want to see in the world'.