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The term “eco-travel” is becoming more commonly used – but what is it? And how do you become an “eco-traveler?”
Eco-travel, rather than having a set definition for every destination, deals with being conscious of the environmental and social issues facing a certain location. For example, paying admission to a National Park in Utah means the money will go towards park upkeep and programs; paying admission to a National Park in Costa Rica, however, may mean something completely different.
To be an eco-traveler, research your destination, lodging and transportation before you book and arrive. Only patronize businesses and organizations that have respect for the local environment and cultures. And remember, just because a lodge or hotel has “eco-“ in its name, it doesn't mean that it's not dumping sewage in a stream behind it – it just means it's located in a natural setting.
When traveling, try to support the local economy by researching your lodging and entertainment choices through web directories. Don't be afraid to call and ask questions before you book about the lodge or hotel's environmental stance and conservation efforts, and who it is owned by.
Being an eco-traveler means being conscious of where you're staying, how they treat the environment, and whose pockets you're putting money into. Do your research, and you can be an eco-traveler, too.
Travelling is a luxury not everyone can enjoy. When I think about eco travelling, I try to make conscious decisions about what I buy and what I throw away (it is easy to do both because you are 'on vacation').
Frequently people will throw away things on vacations to lighten their load (old clothes) and though it could make your belongings lighter, it is not necessarily an 'eco' choice.
Also, personal/travel sized toiletries and food can leave a lot of waste. It's not fun to think about these things all the time, but small changes and some planning could reduce our garbage during vacations!