Representational photo Photograph:( Twitter )
A common trend that has picked up in India have the millennials getting jobs quite early in their career and investing their disposable income in unleashing their wanderlust.
Natasha Mittal runs a travel blog and boasts of an enviable number of YouTube followers. Working at a start-up that deals with e-waste, she had realized the earth is in urgent need of good-hearted souls who can commit to minimizing carbon footprint. She practices sustainable travel and preaches the same. The good part is, she isn’t alone in her quest.
There are more travelers like her, despite not having a blog or a social media following, believe that the onus is on travelers who need to be cautious to make traveling as eco-friendly as possible.
A common trend that has picked up in India have the millennials getting jobs quite early in their career and investing their disposable income in unleashing their wanderlust. Their pursuit of happiness has improved the economy of tourism at offbeat destinations across India that have stayed out of reach of generic travelers for long. However, not everything is hunky dory.
With enthusiastic travelers increasing every day, there is a new menace that has popped up – our pristine lakes becoming polluted, rare flora and fauna are disappearing, nature being killed by concrete. All these indicate over-tourism. Blinded by money, dishonest merchants are seeing tourism as an opportunity to exploit the nature.
And this is where young travelers like Mittal are leading a silent movement. This breed of travelers believes in conservation of nature for our future generations and are changing the way people used to travel.
Here are a few steps that they are adapting:
Minimizing carbon footprints: One step at a time
Traveler Mayank Kanj who is planning a trekking expedition Spiti Valley next February said, “The first step is carrying your own water bottle. There are plenty of packaged bottles available, but there aren’t enough recycle bins along the roads. Even if you dump it in a bin, chances are it might end up in a pristine mountain river due to systematic flaws. When the bottle gets empty, you can always fill it from a nearby spring or café.”
If you doubt the hygiene quality, buy a packaged one, refill your own and discard the bottle at a big dhaba. Since these big restaurants need tons of licenses to operate, they tend to recycle to ensure they aren’t penalized.
The next in the list is to stop buying chips and biscuits from roadside dhabas. Instead carry the chips, biscuits, chocolates before you start from your home and pack those in your re-usable boxes. So, you don’t leave things behind. It might be a bit heavy on your shoulder but easy on the mother nature.
When ordering food and beverage during your journey at eateries, say no to reusable plates and cutleries. In case they don’t have, at least don’t use plastic cutleries and straws and you can create a huge impact over years.
Apart from personalized services, local culture and a comfortable yet traditional accommodation, staying at a homestay helps in conserving the ecology. Suresh Sharma who runs a homestay at Fagu near Shimla said,” When hotels run commercially, they source everything right from vegetables to furniture from big traders or brands who give them a wholesale price. But for homestay owners like me who have four rooms, I have to buy everything local because I don’t qualify for bulk purchases.”
And this makes all the difference. You might not be directly buying local but just by staying at a homestay, you are definitely being vocal for local.
Ask hotels about eco friendly steps
Hotels are increasingly becoming cautious about their carbon footprint. Sarovar Hotels and Resorts for example has stopped using plastic-packaged water bottles across properties in India. Many renowned groups are following the suit.
At places where you don’t find a homestay, ask the hotels what ecological measures they have taken. Some might say recycling on wastewater, recycling plastic and some might have started an organic farm fed by the wastewater.
“When you as a customer start asking the hotels about environmental measures, they start realizing the importance. Ask whether they have wastewater recycling pit, if they re-use plastic, where do they dump their waste! Once you start asking them questions, they will feel obligated. Also, hotel booking sites need to be specific. For hotels who follow the norms of minimizing carbon footprint needs to be provided a badge of honour, which makes them different from the crowd,” said Asad Hussain, president of a hotel owners’ association in North Sikkim.
Hire local guides
While Google Maps and other online resources are amazing, nothing beats local knowledge at offbeat regions be it the Himalayas or the Arabian Sea. When you hire a local guide, you support them and their community. Nobody loves a place more than one who is born there. These locals then stay at their villages and don’t migrate to big cities in search of job and thereby preserve the serenity of the place.
The new age breed of travelers like Mittal and others follow all the above checklists to ensure their expedition doesn’t exploit the environment. Also, they believe not to explore Bollywood hyped destinations and playing loud music at mountains and forest as a part of their traveling discipline.
They are dreamers but they aren’t the only one!