All changes start with a simple idea right?
Is it too much to ask to save the planet? With the way things are going, apparently it is. When did this happen? How did this happen?
How has it become the norm to see the world beginning to fall to pieces and look the other way? Our beautiful, stunning, Instagrammable planet is unraveling at the seams, and we shrug our shoulders and say “well, what can I do?” Things like climate change are such big, almost inconceivable big issues, that it feels like one person can’t make any difference so, meh, why bother?
When the reality is yes, one person can make a difference. One person can start a tidal wave of change. Spoiler alert: I’m trying to start a tidal wave here. Well, continue the tidal wave that others have started, like my idol Jane Goodall.
In fact, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is addressing this with their latest project, Is It Too Much To Ask? By addressing 10 key issues within the travel sector, we can work towards fixing them in our everyday lives by pledging to change things that are currently threatening the planet.
Just today I was filling out a form online for a travel conference and it asked me to tick the boxes of my “editorial niche.” That’s fancy talk for what I like to blog about.
Since alpacas and travel screw ups weren’t categories, I started to scroll through my options. Hmmm, food travel? So much yes. Adventure travel? Obviously. Eco and sustainable travel?
Oh god, here we go again.
WHY IS THAT EVEN A CATEGORY? Shouldn’t all travel be sustainable these days?
And what’s the alternative? Unsustainable tourism? Well, sounds about right actually. Even though it’s painful to admit.
Listen, no one likes preachy people online telling you how to live your best life. I get it. It’s right up there with vegans and people who run marathons – like is it possible to be vegan or to run marathons without making sure everyone around you knows it? I doubt it.
Though I will suppose fitness and less beef consumption are both good things, but still.
I’m not here to preach or tell you what to do, and I’m certainly not here to tell you that I’m a shining specimen of humanity when it comes to sustainable travel because I’m not.
But I’m trying.
I’m still learning. That’s what matters, right? Imagine if we all actually tried instead of giving up before we even started. What a position we might be in!
What I want to do is share my journey of trying to become a better human and my personal efforts of trying to get better about how I travel with you all. If it inspires some of you to join me in becoming more responsible too, well then, isn’t that great? If it pisses some of you off? Well, um, awkward.
Currently there is no way to regulate every single business or person in the travel sector. It’s not possible, which means there is no governing or regulating group that can dictate or control sustainable practices.
But we the people can. And that’s what I’m going to start doing. If we demand it, things will change.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has come up with 10 major issues in travel (and life in general, really) that are threatening our beautiful world that we can ACTUALLY CHANGE. And right now you can pledge to each one, standing up and saying you’re not cool with these unsustainable practices.
From cutting back on plastics to buying local to conserving water, there are 10 major things we could all be easily doing better if we only commit.
Ah but there’s the catch part right? Committing is super hard. If I were a person who was strong and committed, I’d be 20 pounds lighter and probably could run the world.
For example, I decided way back in July to cut out plastic bags, plastic straws, to-go coffee cups and plastic water bottles out of my life. Two hours later I walked out of a cafe with a latte and didn’t realize what I did until I got to my car. Crap!
The next day I was scanning my groceries at the self-checkout at the supermarket when I realized I left my canvas bags in the car. But this time I stayed strong and I left all my vegetables there and ran out to the car to get the bags. It’s easy to just say, oh I’ll be better next time. It’s much harder to retrain yourself on such basic things as how long you shower for.
So while on the surface it sounds super easy, I get it, for me and for people like me, it actually can be hard. Let’s struggle together!
I signed up for the very first pledge on the WTTC “Is it too much to ask?” campaign because for me I think it’s the hardest pledges I can make – demand sustainability.
I pledge to demand to see the environmental and social policies of the companies with which I book my travels
By default I take this to mean also with the companies I chose to work and partner with, which is a big freaking deal, and it’s going to be very hard to put in place. But I’m going to try because I believe it’s really important.
Not only am I going to try and focus on booking with companies that have decent and proactive practices towards sustainable travel, I’m also gonna start bringing it up and talking about it with everyone else. After all, nothing will change if we don’t say anything.
You see, with this kind of stuff silence and not saying anything, actually is consent. I’m not going to be silent anymore. What about you?
I don’t expect to snap my fingers and change either myself or the world overnight.
I was raised by glass half-empty lawyers, and I’m pragmatic enough to know that is just not how the world operates. This is a battle. It’s a long war for change against two of the most powerful forces in the world – the might of money and the strength of laziness.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m tired of living in a world where we’ve shifted to a “what’s in it for me” mentality. How about what’s good for the planet? What about the future? Why have we stopped looking ahead?
I pledge…to speak up when I see irresponsible, dangerous, unsustainable or plain wrong practices or activities that may cause harm to people, animals, or the planet. I will endeavor to do my best to change the wrongs I see in whichever way is available, whether by informing the right people, giving feedback to management, or by educating those around me about the responsible way to travel.
You know, humbly.
My blog and travels have always ticked the box for geotourism:
Geotourism is defined as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.”
Travel for more than merely the sake of travel. Travel with a purpose. Travel with a conscious. Can’t that become the norm? Can we make that the new definition of travel in general and make unsustainable tourism its own niche?
So where to start? What can we do?
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) sets global sustainable standards and gives travelers like us a database of tour operators, hotels, and destinations meeting the criteria for a sustainable place to visit. THANK YOU! I’ll be having a peruse when planning my next trips for sure. They have a super helpful page of what you can do to travel more responsibly.
You can also check out National Geographic’s map of handpicked formal geotourism experiences, which sustain or enhance the geographical character of a place.
See what farms, forests, and businesses that meet environmental and social standards to become Rainforest Alliance Certified and help you take your first steps towards green vacations.
Without Earth, we will have nothing. We live in a world of finite resources and we are using them up rapidly. We all share this amazing planet, it’s time we started respecting it instead of thinking short term and taking whatever we want without a second thought for the future.
I am lucky enough to travel the world and I have the firsthand the best and worse of humanity. Well, maybe not the worst, but I’ve seen some pretty ugly stuff in terms of how we are treating the planet. I’ve been privileged enough to see amongst some of the purest, untouched wilderness on earth and I’ve walked through filth and poverty like you can’t even imagine. How can we reconcile the two?
We have to stop screwing things up and start actually making a change. We have been talking about sustainability for years. We know it’s important. Now it’s time to make it mainstream. Is It Too Much to Ask asks people to take on sustainability as a principle when they travel. Consenting on unsustainable, and frankly dangerous practices, harms us all. We have to stop.
Follow me on Instagram over the next few weeks as I share how I am making my pledge to demand sustainability into practice. Sign up for one of the 10 pledges along with me and be part of my journey to being a better traveler and an all around better human.
Do you travel sustainably? Is it important to you? Which pledge would you chose? Spill!
35 Comments on “Is it too much to ask to save the planet?”
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This is such a great article Liz! And it’s all too true what you say about how all travel should ideally be sustainable and eco-friendly – unfortunately that’s not where we are as a traveling community and as a planet.
Educating ourselves and taking steps towards sustainable travel can seem daunting, but posts like these break down things you can do every day, and pledges you can take, so we can all do our little part to help this beautiful world we live in!
yes totally agree!
Sadly, global warming is all too real and leaders of the world tend to ignore it. I’m aware why they do so, but it’s not particularly helpful to any of us.
I was just writing about a similar version of this with another blogger, who was asking about the impact of mass tourism. And my take? – I strongly believe that the more popular places should definitely not be over-looked as they are wonderful destinations, however, visitors should be responsible when they get there and do things like eat locally, be quieter, not shouting and running through the street where people have to live and work, use local transport, be respectful, and not touch monuments that have been there for thousands of years, etc!
Good on yer Liz!
I totally agree!
I hope your tidal wave comes alive (well I’m the contributing drop). Environmental issues seem so complex and difficult to solve that for a second, it feels like an impossibility to have a world filled with nature and beauty (just for a second!). I’m so glad you wrote this post cause this topic is so important to me. I can’t comprehend the fact that humans ruin the only earth they have, it’s heartbreaking. I’m gonna minimize my use of plastic, more than I did before. We can do this!! I’m gonna stay optimistic.
let’s do it together!