WORDS: MELANIE GREVIS-JAMES
It’s Clean Up time!
Travel brochures and holiday advertisements feature picture-perfect views, pristine beaches, spotless boulevards, and crystal clear blue water… what they don’t show is what travellers leave behind – particularly in popular travel hot-spots. It’s time to clean up our act – luckily for our environment some companies and dedicated individuals are doing just that already.
The recent ‘War on Waste’ series on ABC TV in Australia has shone the spotlight on waste and I am thrilled! Here are a few of the war on waste crusaders in the tourism industry – helping keep our planet waste-free for the sake our our environment and future generations of travellers.
10 Pieces, a clean-up initiative founded in Australia by Lisa Vitaris, encourages travellers to pick up 10 pieces of rubbish on their travels. The project has been launched by World Expeditions on their treks in Bhutan and Nepal, in an effort to reduce litter in remote wilderness areas. Collected rubbish is disposed of responsibly on their tours, mostly by incineration. As an independent traveller you can pick up 10 pieces of litter as you travel, or encourage travel companies to participate in the project and include the initiative on their tours. World Expeditions and 10 Pieces also partner with Leave no Trace – founded by Australian mountaineer legend Tim Macartney-Snape.
“We follow the mantra of ‘Take only photographs and 10 pieces of litter, leave only footprints’. We believe that if we all pick up 10 pieces of litter, collectively we can make a difference,” says Lisa.
Tangaroa Blue is an Australian not-for-profit organisation solely focused on the health of the Australian marine environment. They organise local beach clean-ups and other marine initiatives in key locations around Australia, with the assistance of volunteers, communities, and organisations. Cape York is a marine debris hot-spot, with a lot of rubbish ending up on Australian beaches from South East Asia. A recent clean-up in Cape York at Captain Billy’s Landing collected 2.3 tonnes of rubbish from 10 kilometres of beach. Since 2004 the organisation has removed 384 tonnes of rubbish, which equates to 4,020,731 items removed. Details about their up-coming clean-up events are listed on their website. Volunteers are always welcome!
Another Australian-based campaign is the 2 Hands project; which promotes the message of “2 hands, 30 minutes, clean up your world – anytime, anywhere”. Anyone can do it, at any time, in any location – just do it. A simple message, which done collectively, can achieve amazing results.
Travelers Against Plastic (TAP)
Did you know that globally, 2.7 million tons of water bottle plastic is used annually? Plastic water bottles are ones of the worst offenders when it comes to rubbish left behind by travellers. Unfortunately, many travellers resort to buying bottled water because of health concerns. Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a USA-based organisation has started a campaign to encourage travellers to take a ‘pledge’ to give up plastic and use re-fillable bottles instead. The aim is to eliminate the reliance on plastic bottled water by encouraging travellers to take portable filters or sterilizers with them, like the SteriPEN, which uses UV light technology to destroy 99.99 per cent of bacteria, viruses and cryptosporidium. This is a simple and very cost-effective solution that everyone can do.
Our Planet Travel has taken a TAP pledge and are a supporter of the campaign.
The following websites provide further information; and projects to help minimise, clean-up, and recycle waste:
TAP (Travelers against Plastic): www.travelersagainstplastic.org
10 Pieces: www.10pieces.com.au
2 hands: www.twohandsproject.org
Leave No Trace: www.lnt.org.au
Tap Water: www.tapwater.org
Clean Up Australia: www.cleanup.org.au
The Ocean Cleanup: www.theoceancleanup.com
The Plastic Bank: www.plasticbank.org
Take 3: www.take3.org.au
Our Top 10 Green Travel Tips:
- Don’t buy plastic water bottles – take your own re-fillable non-plastic bottle (and a SteriPEN)
- Avoid plastic bags and bottles – use a natural bar of soap, take eco-friendly washing powder, use re-fillable containers, take as little plastic as possible, avoid aerosol containers
- Request no ‘room servicing’ at your hotel to minimise laundry/water waste
- Use downloadable maps, brochures and travel guides – paper ones just get thrown out
- Use public transport or walk wherever possible – avoid taxis and planes when you can
- Avoid wildlife experiences that don’t support conservation or are non-sustainable
- Buy from the locals – and make sure it is locally-made – to give back to the community
- Don’t buy souvenirs that are illegal or animal items (eg. coral, ivory, animal skin or bone)
- Book with responsible travel companies that promote a clear ‘sustainability statement’
- Carbon offset your travel (it’s very cheap to do!)
Images courtesy © World Expeditions / 10 Pieces, Tangaroa Blue & Travelers Against Plastic (TAP)