A Green End to the Year

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As the curtains fall on 2018, it’s the time to holiday but how about doing it with a green twist?

Did you know that each time your travel there is a huge amount of carbon emission that you are contributing to the environment? However, you can still ensure that when you holiday, you do your bit for the environment and fortunately it is not very hard. All you need to do is pay heed to the activity you choose and how you can help make the Earth breathe a little easier.

Green Holiday

Starting with your mode of transport, explore alternates. Check if you can offset your flights at the first instance. Instead of taking a flight, a cycle holiday, road trip or short haul flight will have much fewer emissions than a long haul plane journey. Another thing that you must do is to visit local communities. “We travel the world to meet new people and learn about different cultures. We can visit our places near our surroundings and make a difference in the life of the people living there. Stay local, eat local and buy local. Plus, volunteering and homestays make great authentic and personal holidays,” says R. P. Yadav, CMD, Genius Consultants Ltd. a Kolkata based holistic Human Resource organization. It could also be small things like visiting a national park or wildlife reserve as what you pay for your visit could indirectly help the local community protect endangered species and their habitat. Likewise when you shop, choose items made by local craftsmen that benefit the indigenous community. Choose to eat in versus eating out when you are on holiday. “Offset your carbon by planting trees with one of many agencies that do so. It is as simple as entering “offset carbon” into the Google search bar and picking from one of many organisations that create forests. In fact – scientists around the world are saying that “forests are the best ‘technology’ to stop climate change,” says Shaan Lalwani who is the CEO and Founder, Coco Custo, an ecofriendly detergent brand.

The Right Choice

Choose a stay at a property that practices sustainability. Check if they recycle waste water or if their green spaces are organic. Even small steps like reusing linen and low flow shower heads make an impact. Aditi Balbir, Founder & CEO, V Resorts avers, “eco-friendly holidays are not about giving up certain activities and replacing them with others. It is purely the means of executing these activities that make a difference – instead of taking individual cars, can we as tourists hike/trek/walk to a given place? Instead of enjoying tea in disposable cups, can we carry our own clip-on mugs and use them instead? Tourists simply need to be cognizant about the potential impact every action of theirs can have on the places they visit and act accordingly.” In fact you can enjoy a green break by looking for things to do in your city itself. Pooja Duggal, Founder & CEO, Healthhunt and The Future of Wellness avers, “explore the many attractions like cultural performances, exhibitions, sports events, other city highlights during that time of the year. Enroll in workshops for handicraft making, theatre, art, cookery or pottery and enjoy tours to scenic or historic locations in and around the city.” Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com adds, “ecotourism is picking up due to the changed mindset of Indian travelers who like to be conscious and green volunteers to Mother Nature. Additionally, hotels and properties are also changing their disposition and coming up with eco-friendly measures like using solar energy, conserving water and so on.” 

Twist of Tradition

Likewise, going back to your roots can be a fun way of rediscovering tradition as well. For instance at Arwa Farms in Dāhānu, Maharashtra there is no AC in the rooms but they provide cots to laze under the tree and encourage people to sleep in the open under the stars. “We wash our utensils with ash so that the basin water is recycled (the water is used to grow Aluwadi all through the year. Aluwadi is basically a monsoon crop but because of constant water feed we are able to eat the vegetables through the year. We show and involve the guest in making Amrit Paani, a mix of cow urine/cow dung/water/chana aata and jaggery. This is the main source of nutrients to our plants. Depending at what time of the year the guest come we involve them either in plantation or harvesting,” says Fawzan Husain, Owner, Arwa Farms. Likewise at Our Native Village, in Hesarghatta on the outskirts of Bangalore maintains a 100% eco-friendly approach based on the five basic pillars of environmental conservation – earthly architecture, nutritious food, energy and water conservation, and proper waste management. “As part of our sustainability efforts, we endeavour to revive rituals, games and practices from the Indian Village. Traditional Indian art is also being revived through beautiful murals in the rooms, simple village games like Gilli-Danda, kite flying, spinning tops and firing a catapult bring your childhood spirit back to life, while bullock cart rides and a host of farm-based activities recreate a ‘grandfather’s farm’ experience,” explains Manu Rishi Guptha, CEO, Niraamaya Retreats.

Activity Mix

An ecofriendly holiday does not have to be boring as nearly everything you do on a regular holiday can be done on one that is ecofriendly. However it is important to remember that everything you do has some impact. It is not what you do it, but how you do it that matters. Some of the most fun activities during an ecofriendly holiday are to indulge in things that take you close to nature that be fun and adventurous too. “There are a host of activities including Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Air Rifle Shooting, Archery, String Balance, Commando Bridge, Air Obstacle, Swing Crossing, Burma Bridge, Horizontal Ladder and many more. The activities are conducted by expert trainers and coaches within the premises of The Resort’s property. The setup has been specially designed within the property where each of these activities will be conducted for visitors who wish to enjoy some adventure while they are visiting for a holiday,” says Satyajit Kotwal, General Manager, The Resort Mumbai.

Be Local

On an ecofriendly holiday one generally tries to become a part of the community that he or she travels to.  Just because it is an ecofriendly holiday, one does not have to consider that it would be a rustic stay. Plenty of luxury resorts now have holidays that are ecofriendly. “From living the life of a farmer for a day, to bathing a baby elephant, to learning about wild life conservation, activities are plenty. But what helps the most is to help the locals sustain themselves so that they themselves at a grass root level are able to live comfortably. Most villages and wild life reserves have basic facilities, and living with these facilities can be a novel way of spending your next holiday.  Learning how to make a clay pot, instead of just going out and buying one, spinning a cloth that we take so much for granted, painting with the talented locals, all are activities that are extremely enjoyable and fun at the same time,” opines Vineet Rajan, Core member Road Trippers Club, and Co-founder and CMO – ScoutMyTrip. The idea is to do the right things. “My philosophy is to enjoy your holiday without guilt. Do-no-active-harm should be the only guiding principle. If you are the active sort, putting on a backpack and walking in nature is the simplest and best activity. If you are not active, sitting on a beach or a pool outside an air-conditioned room and reading a book or playing with your children is relaxing and a great bonding event with the family,” says Bala Parthasarathy, Co-Founder & CEO MoneyTap. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

  • Choose a green hotel / homestay.
  • Avoid bottled water.
  • Take local transport.
  • Follow established guidelines in forests / hills / sea.
  • Create green awareness by not littering.
  • Before leaving you room, turn off the AC, TV, lights and taps.

This story first appeared in Smartlife Dec 2018 issue here: 

All images courtesy Coco Custo.

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