Ways to Reduce Plastic Use While Traveling
Traveling provides us with an exciting opportunity to explore the unfamiliar, try new things, and view unforgettable sights, but we need to remember that this is a privilege and not a right. When we are guests in someone else’s home country, we should do our best to travel responsibly and reduce waste.
Plastic pollution, in particular, is an on-going problem all over the world and much of that is due to the tourism industry. Learn more below about sustainable tourism and easy ways to reduce plastic use when you travel, as well as at home.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
The concept of sustainable tourism is often somewhat misunderstood, as well as taken for granted. Many believe that if they simply avoid littering, then they are traveling without affecting the environment. Sustainable tourism is actually the practice of encouraging the preservation of different cultures, economies, ecosystems, and natural resources. It means learning about what makes each place and culture special without interfering in their authentic way of living. We can do this by interacting with the locals, putting our money into their economy rather than multinational corporations, and leaving everything better than we found it.
Plastic is made up of very large molecules, which means it takes a long time to decompose. The synthetic plastics used today contain petroleum or other materials meant to simplify the molding process used to create everyday items. Unfortunately, these synthetic plastics are even more resistant to the decaying process. These non-biodegradable products then become nearly impossible to get rid of, and therefore, prevalent in many natural environments.
Disposal of plastic products is also a difficult process to control. Many items are left on the side of the road, dropped in parks and forests, or blown away by the wind, and never reach designated landfills, incinerators, or recycling centers. Instead, they make their way into oceans and other bodies of water or pollute other landscapes and ecosystems. In addition to the unattractive mess, animals may get caught in plastic materials or mistake them for food, drainage systems can become clogged, and habitats are destroyed.
Help Vallarta Adventures Reduce Plastic While on Vacation
Vallarta Adventures was moved and inspired at a local event promoting sustainable tourism. Ashley Clarke, our operations director, stated, “It was very clear that we couldn’t save the whole planet in a day, but we could start with categories, and plastic was the first one that we would undertake. We created a small committee with people from all over the company and sat down to look at what we were using at the moment and what we could actually do. We set achievable goals and simple tasks with a very clear message that we had to get rid of the disposable plastic.”
Since beginning the program roughly twelve months ago, Vallarta Adventures has eliminated approximately 90% of disposable plastic products from our operations. Since 2017, we have completely eliminated the use of plastic cups, spoons, and straws. We also decreased the use of plastic bottles by 98%. We recognize that there is still work to do and plan to continue improving in the coming years.
Our business centers around a desire to share our beautiful land and culture with visitors. We are passionate about preserving our homes and those of local wildlife and hope that you will join us in our efforts as you travel by practicing sustainable tourism.
How to Reduce Plastic Use
There are many ways you can reduce plastic use, both at home and while on vacation. Use the following ideas and look for more ways to make a difference wherever you are.
Invest in a reusable water bottle and stop using disposable bottles as much as possible.
Pack a reusable water bottle when you travel.
Separate plastic products for recycling.
Locate or organize a recycling program in your community.
Look for designated recycling bins when visiting parks, traveling, or in other public places.
Pick up trash when you see it laying around.
Bring your own shopping bags instead of using plastic ones.
Before you travel, find out if the companies you are booking through practice sustainable tourism and choose one that supports plastic reduction and conservation efforts.