We asked SOURCE friends Gesa and Sebastian – self-declared outdoor addicts and passionate globetrotters travelling as a couple for over 5 years – to elaborate on their understanding of sustainability when traveling the world and exploring the outdoors.
Sustainability for us is a way of living that literally “sustains” – meaning it maintains, preserves, saves one’s environment and is therefore the opposite of reckless destruction and inconsiderate exploitation.
“It’s not like we were always aware of ‘sustainability’. On the contrary! We would also fly to Venice for a romantic weekend getaway or use dish soap in a clear mountain river. But we soon realized the importance of a sustainable lifestyle and we developed a few principles we now stick to:
1. Transport: Travel Green
Short-distance flights and weekend-getaways by plane are off limits. It’s just too insane what amount of CO2 you blow into the air just because you’d like to have breakfast in Paris. We don’t have a car and use our bikes and public transport in everyday day life.
When we travel longer distances, we use car sharing, shared rides, trains or buses. Sometimes, we hitchhike. There are many alternatives that might take a little longer than flying but reduce our CO2 footprint greatly.
We are aware of the ethic conflict when it comes to AirBnB – however, it remains a much better option than hotels if you consider your environmental impact. Unless you booked a certified (!) ecolodge, the hotel business is anything but sustainable.
Being huge outdoor bums, we camp A LOT in the first place. Alternatively, we stick to small pensions, shared houses and youth hostels. The latter ones usually offer private dorms for people who don’t want to be sharing their bunkbed with a snoring stranger. No excuses!
3. Food and Drinks:
Of course when travelling you eat take away food more than you do at home, and of course it comes in a styrofoam box with plastic cutlery, and when you get thirsty at the beach, you buy bottled water from Nestlé … We do our best to be prepared.
We always take a reusable water bottle or a SOURCE Widepac Hydration System, and a to-go-cup for coffee, along with a couple of lightweight tote bags for shopping. That enables us to reduce our daily amount of waste easily.
Millions of tourists trample over fragile plant communities, feed wild animals, jet ski over coral reefs and leave their rubbish in protected zones all over the world. That’s why in general we only book guided tours with companies that are certified and pay appropriate rates to their guides.
The same principle applies for nature and wildlife tours, many of them actually contribute to the loss of biodiversity! Pack in what you pack out and check more than one provider before you decide to book a tour – a thorough research is often worth it!
5. Human Rights:
Tourists tend to behave in a way they would never act in their own country: Reckless, inappropriate, disrespectful. Like in the well-known situation when indigenous people are photographed against their will.
You will worsen social injustice if you spend your money in the wrong places. Try to be mindful to these issues when you travel and treat locals with the same respect you would treat your neighbours and colleagues back home.
It’s a process, baby!
When we first started changing our way of life and the way we travelled, everything seemed very complicated. There were many occasions when we got frustrated: Flying was usually much cheaper than taking the train! We couldn’t make sense of that jumble of eco labels! But we got the hang of it quickly and honestly, having a good conscience about one’s own impact is such a good feeling. It makes up for that extra time we spend researching or that extra money we pay. So why not make sustainable travel your topic in 2019..?”
Thanks to Gesa and Sebastian for elaborating on this important topic! We will keep following your inspiring Instagram Feed @feedingfernweh.blog, happy travelling!