Considering the current state of the planet, nothing is quite “business as usual”. Many of us are wanting to live more consciously — including in the way we travel. Globalisation has its upsides, but it also means that we need to be mindful of how our actions affect our global neighbours and the world at large.
The government of Palau is all too aware that tourism, while important to the country’s local economy, can be damaging to its local ecology. The Palau Pledge is a beautifully statement written by the children of Palau that’s stamped on visitors’ passports when they enter the country. Visitors sign at the bottom to pledge that they’ll behave responsibly while in Palau. Imagine if this were the norm in every country!
In practice, this might mean employing some of the same eco-conscious habits you would at home, for example bringing your own reusable shopping bag, coffee cup and water bottle (and, of course, SunButter!). It also might involve doing your research so that you’re not participating in any tours or activities that negatively impact wildlife or local or Indigenous peoples. In some locations, “green” accommodation with features like harvest gardens and composting systems is popping up.
As well as treading lightly and mindfully while travelling, we can also offset our flight emissions. Some airlines have a “carbon offset” option, which means that the airline company contributes funds to an environmental initiative (such Qantas's support of wind farm projects in India). But if you really want to offset your carbon footprint, an organisation like Green Fleet will plant trees on your behalf in Australia or New Zealand. A long haul return flight will set you back less than $150.
Of course, there’s also the option of reducing or avoiding air travel altogether. While travelling within or between countries, take a train, bus or boat, or hire a car where possible. We love the idea of travelling around Australia by car (and spending tourist dollars in bushfire-affected communities!), or, if you’ve got the time, you can find a boat travelling along the coast with Find a Crew. All of these options have the added benefit of showing you parts of the landscape you might otherwise never see.