To travel is to discover new foods, landscapes, and facets of yourself that you couldn’t see before. It’s debatably my favourite thing in the world. But like all awesome things, there are downsides. Where so many things are gained when travelling, any semblance of routine is lost.
I could do yoga every day at home, but being an on-the-road yogi? Not happening.
Healthy food? Gone.
Sleep schedule? Feels unsatisfactory no matter how hard you try.
In all honesty, I’m totally okay with letting go of my routine if it means getting to see a new place. However, one thing that’s been bothering me is how the eco-friendly standard I hold myself to at home, also slips through the cracks when on the road.
It’s really one word that ruins it all: convenience.
It starts with simple things like buying a water bottle because you’re parched on a walking tour and forgot yours. Then… you end up throwing it in the garbage because you can’t find a recycling bin anywhere. Things I would NEVER do in my “normal” life. Then comes the little bottles of shampoo in the hotel shower which you use (but are totally wasteful), and the cheap souvenirs you feel obligated to buy for people back home.
These don’t seem like that big of a deal, but in a multi trillion dollar tourism industry, you can imagine the kind of impact we make on places that are not even our homes. I mean, when cruise ships use as much energy as a mid-size city, and there’s companies that solely (pun intended) make toys out of washed up flip flops, there is definitely a problem with the tourism industry.
Real talk: none of us should get a free pass to wreak havoc on our environment just because we need a holiday from our first world lives.
So with this in mind, when I recently booked a trip to Tofino, I chose to vote with my dollar and stay somewhere that I felt gave me a fighting chance at being a more eco-minded tourist: the Ecolodge.
Let me tell you, I had a LOVELY time there. While it sometimes felt like a hostel because there were shared bathrooms, the bedrooms were private and nice, hosting eco-friendly bedding, towels, and robes (like, how fancy). I quickly got over the bathroom thing upon seeing they had local, eco-friendly body wash, shampoo and conditioner that came out of a dispenser rather than teeny tiny bottles.
It was nothing fancy, but it was exactly what we needed. One of the best parts was that the lodge was sitting on a 12-acre botanical garden to wander through, eventually leading to the ocean. They use this property to collect rain water, to grow veggies, and to teach (all the neature lessons). It also features roosters and ducks to check out, and some pretty cool public art installations.
Sure, there was room for improving on this adventure of mine. The bathrooms I grew so fond of used paper towel instead of washable hand towels, and after all, I did use gas in my car to get there (5 hours later).
But despite this, I realized that there was a good chance I was actually making less of an environmental footprint on vacation, than if I was at home. So… what if the tourism industry COULD be used as a way help our planet, instead of depleting it? It seems like a lofty goal, and don’t get me wrong, there’s some big obstacles in the way before we get there. But one thing I know for sure: the people who want to provide these “eco-tourism” options are there, or are trying to find a way to get there. It’s now up to us to care about them enough to take the road a little less traveled to seek them out.
And I think we’ll find that the road isn’t quite as inconvenient as we might think. I certainly did.