This is more on Travel Planning, the January theme on Solo Traveler.
Like many, my life at home includes certain principles concerning my impact on the environment. I try to feel good about my choices as a consumer, knowing that they can make a difference. I watch energy consumption carefully, and I reduce, reuse and recycle.
But it can be challenging to follow these principles when traveling – especially when there is a travel company involved like a resort or cruise line that takes care of all the details.
Last summer I went to the Hacienda Tres Rios on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Along with a number of other bloggers, I was invited for a long weekend and to attend the Green Globe Ceremony where the resort was being recognized for sustainable tourism practices.
This had me curious. Sustainable is not what I had experienced at the few resorts I'd been to before.
I was eager to learn what they meant by sustainable and how they acted on it – after all, as a consumer, this could help me make choices that make me feel good about my travel.
New expectations for sustainability.
I arrived at Hacienda Tres Rios a little early, before most of the other bloggers, so I went down to the beach to lie on one of the wonderful cabana beds. When I left to go back to the main building (I wish I got a picture of this) I saw a worker watering the plants along the beach that were there to avoid erosion. He was watering them individually. Water was not being wasted on the sand between plants but given directly to the plants. This, I thought, is an unusual resort.
Over the course of the weekend, I discovered many ways that the resort aims to be sustainable. Here are some of them. You can look for similar sustainabilty strategies and tactics when choosing a resort:
- They have an Environmental Management System. They have a plan and a policy described on their website.
- In-room motion sensors shut down unnecessary energy use when rooms are unoccupied
- A titanium-clad water desalination plant treats and filters sea water. The water is drinkable.
- Cold water from a deep well is used to cool air conditioning system
- Heat generated from air conditioning is captured and used to heat water.
- 100-per-cent biodegradable products are used.
- Refuse is carefully sorted and recycled when possible
- Regional materials and finishes were used in construction.
- 4,000 plants of 11 endangered and protected species were rescued
- The resort was built after a two year environmental study using low impact construction practices.
A few tips to resort / cruise / tour responsibly.
Because so many countries are economically dependent on tourism, traveling is a good thing – as long as we do it responsibly.
Here are some ways to choose companies that might align with the care for the environment that you take at home.
- Choose a tour operator, resort, cruise line… that has a sustainability and social responsibility policy that you respect – hopefully it is clearly defined on their website.
- Stay at locally owned hotels rather than multinationals so that more of the money stays local.
- Travel by ground and public transit whenever possible.
- Buy consciously and ask questions about the environment and social policies.
You may also want to read of “Travel for the Common Good: the thoughts of six seasoned travelers“.