What is a Conscious Traveler?
by Gabriela Rocha-Caballero
Sustainable Traveler means being a Responsible and Conscious Traveler.
“The moment that we are living right now demands a change of behavior as citizen’s of the world” – Martha Delgado Peralta, Minister of the Environment, Mexico City.
Traveling with responsibility means protecting the environment, supporting and respecting the local cultures through authentic ecotourism, and since our footprint is unalterable, looking for making a positive impact on the places we visit should be the intention. But, how can you become a sustainable traveler? While planning your trip, set up your intentions.
Responsible traveling begins at home, choose going paperless when booking a reservation and stay at an environmentally conscious hotel that works committed to ecotourism and sustainable practices.
Awareness while traveling is not ignoring your normal environmental habits, before you head out unplug any appliance that won’t be in use while you’re away and while traveling turn off the lights and use less water.
We all know that a great way to reduce waste of water and energy is reusing our hotel towels and linens. While some green hotels will ask you to hang your towel if you do not want it washed, Casa Viva in Troncones, Guerrero in Mexico goes way beyond this simple act. Towels are washed in a washing machine that releases grey water back into the ground to feed trees and the landscape. Grey water from sinks and showers is also used to water the landscape.
Black water is treated without chemicals on site with living systems that use plants to filter the water. The clean water that leaves the treatment facility is clean enough to drink; so clean that birds drink it, promoting biodiversity. So you start with luxurious organic towels and end with ecological systems that promote biodiversity.
Hotel Presidente in San Jose, Costa Rica started with a recycling program, and then launched in early 2009 a Carbon Neutral Bonus Program and a Social Program that supports and teaches sustainable practices around the city blocks.
Playa Viva a Sustainable Eco-Luxe Resort in Juluchuca, Guerrero Mexico started with the concept that building green sustainable communities is doing less damage, building sustainable is about net neutral but building in a “regenerative” means making the place better, with programs that Promote Biodiversity and Meaningful Communities.
A Nahuat Totonaca indigenous co-op in Cuetzalan, Puebla in Mexico, that has been working as an autonomous sustainable community organization for more than 33 years, encourages fair ecotourism through Tosepan Kali a Sustainable Rural Resort, having a yearly flat rate, maintaining the local culture and heritage by supporting mutual-aid, women and children rights, protecting the environment by promoting sustainable housing and economic freedom.
Wildlife Connection located in Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican organization dedicated to the study and conservation of free dolphins and whales. As tour operators they focus on free dolphin and whale research activities and education, organizing specialized ecotours that offer to the general public the opportunity to experience a close contact with nature and its wild animals. These tours have an educational purpose, and represent a source of funds for their research and conservation programs.
So when you visit a resort or experience an ecotour operator like any of these you are actually supporting building green sustainable communities, human sustainability and economic freedom. This way you become a Sustainable Traveler and Socially Responsible.