Sustainable Tourism; Carbon Foot Print Basics

Posted on Posted in Sustainable Tourism

Hello my Awakened Ones!

                                                                        

Being the change you wish to see in the world. The phrase that fuels my inner torch.  If you love to travel and see yourself as an environmentally conscious person (or an aspiring one) that is trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, this is the article for you. Sustainable tourism aka (Eco Tourism) means making decisions during your travels to both offset and reduce your carbon foot print. Having trouble thinking of ideas on how to start? Let me lead the way.

            Risultati immagini per never doubt that people can change world

World Behaviors

Between the 18th and 20th century there was a major shift in society that changed how we led our lives. There was rapid growth in mechanization and industrial production. New technologies such as steam water, electricity, petrol engine oil among others were major players in this shift. Efficiency and product output in all sectors including agriculture was a result of these new technologies.

These technologies also improved the transport of these products and people. In 1700, it took four days to travel from London to Manchester , by 1870, it took four hours, and today by train it only takes 2 hours.

The powers at be never thought to set ethical, moral and environmental standards when they set out to create multi billion dollar industries during the industrial revolution that fuels today’s global consumerism. It was never a priority to educate the public about the negative and inhumane effects industrial pollution has on our global climate, how it affects animals natural habitats, and our health.

An  Image of a factory producing massive amount of carbon dioxide

The lack of regulations resulted in pollution, which at the time was a significant issue as a result of the high density population in mill towns and cities where these factories were located. Labor laws were non-existent at this time. The Proletariat; slaves, poor men, women, and children were exploited by the elite (surprise, surprise.) Yes, the industrial revolution paved the way for everything that we have today. This form of automation that started only a few centuries ago has transformed and is going to take over the majority of jobs that no longer need human capital. Medicine, technology and so many other industries have exponentially grown that are taking us to some pretty.. out of this world places.

What is a Carbon Foot Print?

A Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration; it is naturally present in the air, and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis.

There are both natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The carbon dioxide that we produce is from the burning of oil, coal and gas which constitutes to 87% of its production.  Deforestation is responsible for 9% and industrial processes account for 4%. Yes, the valid argument is that we need to heat our homes, drive to work etc., but what I do not understand is that in this day and age, when we know better, why are we not striving to do better? Why is it so difficult to teach recycling and sustainability to children in schools? Why is there such a push back on investing in solar clean and renewable energy? Can’t we create clean jobs with new industries and new technologies? Is it truly that hard to adapt and change the global psyche to an ethical one?

Source:(Le Quéré, C. et al. (2013). The global carbon budget 1959-2011.)

Foot prints on the world
Foot prints on the world

Back to travel.

So obviously the largest production of carbon dioxide when traveling is going to be your flights. There is a carbon footprint calculator that I used to calculate the amount of CO2 emissions my flights are omitting. I have only taken two regional flights after arriving in Europe. Every other mode of transportation has been by foot, train, ferry or carpool all of which is resulting in carbon foot print output, except for the walking.

Until the tourism industry standards change, nothing is going to change. In my research I learned that airlines like Lufthansa are taking matters into their own hands. In their sustainability report they are using a comprehensive 4 pillar strategy to target environmental goals such as climate protection, fuel and energy efficiency, and sustainable innovation. Companies like Jet Blue are offsetting their carbon footprint by incorporating in flight recycling, investing in bio fuel, while also educating their customers on how to offset their carbon footprint.

Many other airlines are also taking the initiative in shift towards being part of sustainable tourism. So the next time you book a flight, look into what steps the airline is taking towards making smarter choices for the environment before you invest in a flight!

How Deforestation is Connected with Sustainable Tourism

A Few forms/reasons for deforestation:

  • Forest fires
  • Unsustainable logging for timber
  • Urbanization
  • Mining
  • Business development of resorts and shopping centers

The tourism industry is indirectly and directly connected to deforestation. Let’s put the demand for housing aside. Many islands have been victim to the greed of humans, resulting in the development in lavish luxury resorts theme parks and casinos among many other tourist attractions. All of which exploit local water sources, waste food and other natural resources.

Deforestation In Armenia for the Teghut mine circa 2012

For thousands of years deforestation has been taking place. Chopping down trees is what human kind has been doing to build shelter, build a to keep warm, cook food, and to build tools. We naturally benefit so much from our forests. They offer us food, fresh water, natural medicines, bio diversity Eco system, and for some rural communities the forests provide livelihood and form of income.

Risultati immagini per animals in natural habitats rainforest

Forests are also home to millions of species that play such a significant role in world’s bio-diversity as a whole, most especially rain forests in the Amazon. Deforestation threatens these natural habitats. Here are some disturbing facts about deforestation. Estimations say that there will be no rain forest in just 100 years.

 

Steps Towards Sustainable Tourism

This year the at the United Nations 70th General Assembly a resolution was passed that designated 2017 as the international Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Below is the list of goals that they have for the year.

 

Risultati immagini per sustainable tourism infographic
United Nation 2017 Sustainable Tourism Goals

 

It is great that the major players in the aviation industry are taking an initiative, but along with these changes we as travelers must take on the responsibility to offset and reduce our carbon foot print personally. The tourism industry is not going to change unless we the people of the world, global citizens educate ourselves, and make them change. In turn, we also have to change our behaviors. This means you and I hold the key by the conscious decisions and purchases we make when we travel to apply help sustainable tourism.

As a responsible traveler who is striving towards practicing sustainable tourism accommodation is something you have to take into consideration when deciding between visiting a resort, renting an Air b&b, or staying at a hostel (Fun Fact: Majority of hostels compost food, recycle and use bio degradable paper products, while also investing in recycling water system and solar energy.) On my journey I have done home stays with Air B&B, stayed at hostels, and with friends!

 

The four things that I am doing to offset and reduce my carbon travel footprint on this journey that you should consider:

  1. Consider bringing a reusable glass water bottle with you abroad to reduce plastic CO2 emissions!o This is dependent on where you are traveling. With a sensitive stomach you may have no choice but to purchase bottled water. Many of the towns in Europe have fresh water taps from local springs. Obviously third world countries that do not have a clean water sources such as India don’t.
    Reusable Water Bottle
    Reusable Water Bottle being filled from a fresh water spring in Sintra, Portugal

     

  2.  Another way to reduce carbon foot print while traveling is to be a conscious consumer!
    • Supporting local businesses and artisans is a huge step towards Sustainable Tourism. Make sure that you are not purchasing products that say MADE IN CHINA. When I was in Iceland my souvenir was a photograph I purchased from a local artist at his shop!
      Local photography shop in Reykjavik Iceland

       

  3. Walk. I make it a point to walk when I can when I am traveling abroad. When I do my solo travel like on this trip, if I can get to a destination within a one hour walk I do so. You get your bearings of your surroundings, you also find some hidden gems along the way that you never would have discovered before! 
  4. The other thing I did and you should consider doing is planting a tree every time you book a flight! I planted a cluster of trees with Armenian Tree Project. When a tree reaches 40 years it consumes up to 2 ton of carbon dioxide. Going forward for every flight I book I am going to plant a tree! If you go to my website http://www.TravelingThroughLIfe.net on my home page there is a link that will take you directly to where you can plant a tree in Armenia!

 

These small actions are some small ways to change your travel behaviors while taking a step towards sustainable tourism.

Why I chose Armenia Tree Project

I chose Armenia because I truly love my culture, and my country. Considering there are more Armenian living in the diaspora than in Armenia, I think it is my personal responsibility to do what I can with what I have.I have only been to Armenia once in 2007, which was the first time I traveled abroad internationally. I will be going back next year through a program called Armenia Birthright for 100 days.

I am a first generation American Armenian citizen. My grandparents were born in Armenia, but fled the country as refugees as a result of the Armenian Genocide. My father was born in Syria, and my mother in Lebanon. Their families moved back to Armenia when they were both infants when Armenia was under the Soviet Union. My parents left Armenia in 1976 and moved to Boston, Massachusetts with $300 and three children. I have grown up hearing stories about my parents impoverished childhood in our forsaken motherland.

Image from ArmenianTreeProject.org

In the 1990’s after gaining independence, Armenia was left to fend for itself. Landlocked with no initial political allies Armenia was left with no gas, fuel or electricity. This resulted in locals cutting down trees to keep warm in the winters, for shelter and to cook food. Armenia Tree Project (ATP) research shows the big picture of the cause and dire effects of deforestation.

Armenia is a prime example of how the many different forms of deforestation can effect a region. Deforestation also affects the weather patterns of a region. On August 13, there was a forest fire that resulted in losing 2,500-10,000 hectares. Armenia Tree Project has been doing amazing work for the last 20 years trying to educate the people of Armenia on the importance of forests.

There are numerous ways we contribute to our travel carbon foot print. I hope this can be a starting point to get you thinking about sustainable tourism and the small changes in behavior and decisions you can make that will make a significant difference. Give a shit, plant a tree.

You got a friend in me