I have always been an advocate of the environment, its protection, and its conservation. I have always loved nature and have great respect for Mother Earth, having grown in a home surrounded by green living things and having come from a family who cultivate the earth for a living, our daily life in sync with nature’s rhythm.
I have to admit that living green is a challenge where I am today. Where there is consumption, there is waste. And where there is waste, there is destruction. And this is bigger here in the city, the impact to Mother Nature multiplied several times. However, despite this sad reality, I try my very best to care for nature when and where I can—even, and especially, when traveling.
If there’s one thing that my travels have done for me, it is to strengthen my awe and admiration of the world I live in. The places I have visited showed me the wonders of our world, many of whom I can hardly fathom. And with the revelations came the stronger feeling of need to protect everything and preserve them for everyone else on this Earth to enjoy.
I have found that green living is, in most part, thoughtful living—it entails conscious effort. In this post, I’d like to share the simple things I do (and hopefully inspire others to do) to be mindful about and to look after the environment whenever I travel.
To take nothing but photos and memories,
to leave nothing but footprints,
and to kill nothing but time.
It is always tempting to bring back with me a piece of the place I visited—a rock, a seashell, a bottle of sand. In the past, I would have no qualms bringing something back home, but that has changed in recent years. I no longer bring souvenirs like these home, because we can only take enough before all the resources get depleted. Besides, based on experience, I know that sooner or later, any natural souvenir I bring would lose its novelty to me and I would most likely forget about it. Why not just leave it be, where it is.
Don’t litter: a basic lesson we all need to learn.
If there’s one thing I understand about the habit of NOT littering, it is that the foundation is extremely crucial—we all need to learn this while we’re young. If we don’t, it will be so difficult to develop the habit in adulthood.
I used to find myself perplexed and bothered whenever I see adults throw litter anywhere like it’s a natural habit, like there is nothing wrong with it, like the world is their trash can and they can litter as they please. But then later on, I realized that they simply have not developed the mindset to take care of the environment. The importance of this habit was not instilled in them when they were young. Only, I’m not sure how they can still learn it at this point in time.
When traveling, the basic rule of not littering is more important than ever. In my trips, I have seen several wonderful places that were only less beautiful because they were dirty. I do hope all travelers can learn to respect the places that we visit by keeping them clean and well-maintained.
The travel challenge: to curb the consumption.
We all tend to pamper and spoil ourselves when traveling—we sleep a bit longer, we give ourselves permission to eat unhealthy food, and of course, we even spend and buy a lot more than planned. And, we tend to carry the same mindset in several other activities and habits.
At one point or another during my travels in the past, I have fallen into these habits: spending a lot more time in the shower, and being less careful with electronics (i.e. allowing myself to sleep with the TV on in my hotel room). Where at home my towels last a week before I throw them in the laundry, there were times in a hotel when I was tempted to ask for a fresh towel each day. After all, it isn’t often that I get the chance to enjoy these kinds of small luxuries.
However, I’d repeat this again just to remind myself: taking care of Mother Earth entails mindfulness. And travel habits like these, they have an impact to the environment. No matter how small, the impact accumulates over time.
I have learned to curb most of these travel habits and to be more mindful in my trips, with a few exceptions every now and then when really needed. The secret is finding the right balance—to enjoy myself while adhering to the values that I believe in.
To live green means to overhaul a lifestyle, and it’s a process I am slowly taking. I cannot overhaul my life all at once, so I am tweaking one area of my life, one habit, at a time. It is challenging, yes, but it is also a deeply rewarding experience.
I hope you join me in my journey to living green, both in our travels and in our daily life.