As we become accustomed to new travel ideas and rituals to adapt, creating a sustainable travel plan is a sexy thing to do. Well, at least I think it’s so. To begin new ways of travel practices is both easier and more adaptable than some might think.
First, I should mention what I mean by sustainable travel - a.k.a sustainable tourism. When people think sustainability, they often limit it to the environment - which is a highly critical component.
But sustainable tourism is the ideal balance of the environment, economy, social justice, and wellbeing of the community.
Although each destination is responsible for protecting and integrating its resources while involving the community, It’s also our responsibility as travelers to be conscious with our steps. When traveling to a location that has its shortcomings in sustainable tourism it’s up to the visitors to respect their own carbon footprints and leave goodwill behind. And there are simple edits one can make to improve and impact a travel destination.
Fortunately, Iceland’s sustainability practices do not lag and yet there’s big room for improvement. Iceland being mindfully environmental still has shortcomings when it comes to social impact. I believe that Iceland can recreate and implement an updated sustainable tourism marketing and management strategy allowing more space for community impact.
And then I thought what if we treat our travel destination like we would a friend’s home - being invited to someone’s house for dinner. I show up on time, with a hostess gift and my good manners, ask them questions to learn more about them, and don’t overstay my welcome.
Since I can remember, my family and I would visit family friends at their farm by Snæfellsnes and fish wild trout in their lake. I might not have understood some of these rituals as a young child, but later started to realize that we always brought gifts, i.e. coloring books and sweets for the children, we’d catch only x-amount of fish, and religiously avoided leaving a footprint behind.
We can easily give ourselves simple steps to follow for each destination, for example:
Offset x-amount of carbon via certified organizations
Donate x amount into an already established scholarship or a charity in the area
Ask your hotel for descaling services (fewer towels, minimal use of air conditioner etc.)
Shop only locally-made designs and goods
Einstein said “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions''.
If we’re going to a location without concerning ourselves with our footprint and only thinking about our own experience - we’re ignoring a global problem. If fixing the problem takes only a micro moment out of our entire visit - we must recognize it and do our part to fix it.
Text: Anna Rósa Parker