Travel Tuesday: Eco-conscious tourism extends from an eco-friendly lifestyle

Eco-conscious tourism is not a fad or a label used to entice tourists with a new travel trend. An eco-friendly lifestyle drives these travel decisions.

As more people resolve to travel the world, eco-conscious tourism often guides the decisions that people make. While many people make eco-friendly lifestyle choices at home, tourists are starting to understand the impact their visits have on the land. From eco-friendly products to thoughtful choices, tourists are becoming more aware of their part in caring for these environments.

At home, many people use their refillable water bottles, ditch the plastic straws, and even tote the reusable bag to the store. Unfortunately, on vacation, those single-use options just seem more convenient. But all that convenience has caused a negative impact on many of the world’s resources.

With the news broadcasting the devastation of the Australian wildfires, flooded canals of Venice, and piles of trash washing ashore on the world’s beaches, it’s become obvious that all that convenience has come with a price. Now, travelers are looking to make decisions that are more eco-conscious.

Luckily, more companies are embracing the eco-friendly lifestyle. Most hotels encourage travelers to reuse linens throughout their stay. The single use toiletries have been replaced with refillable choices. Still, these items are just the beginning because small changes can and will have an impact.

One great example is in the sunscreen industry. While everyone knows the importance of proper sunscreen use, the ingredients in that essential product can impact the wildlife, especially marine life. As a tourist ensures that she does not get sunburned on that snorkeling trip, that chemical laced sunscreen can harm the beautiful marine life that she wants to enjoy. Now, more companies offer alternatives that are reef sensitive.

During the recent Surf Expo in Orlando, numerous sunscreen brands touted the concept of reef-friendly products. This designation tells consumers that the sunscreen is free from chemicals that are harmful to the waterways.

What started as a small cross section of sunscreens has expanded to be more of the norm. From well-known names like Panama Jack to All Good Products, these companies are protecting and educating consumers with reef friendly products.

Beyond sunscreen, other small changes are having a big impact. While many theme parks and resorts are reducing single-use plastic straws, the reusable straw companies are finding ways to make bringing a straw more convenient.

Brands like Shell Creek Sellers reusable straws make it easy for travelers to have their own straw, anywhere. From the sets to a new collapsible version, there is no reason to turn to a single-use plastic option.

While the plastic bottle problem has yet to find a perfect solution, many companies are finding ways to repurpose that garbage into something beautiful. In many cases, those bottles can be crushed into a material which can be woven into fabric. From pretty tunics to beach towels, turning plastic garbage into a usable product is eco-friendly innovation.

Although many of these options show innovation, eco-conscious tourism involves the tourist herself. While resorts and countries are making changes, the tourist needs to apply her choices at home to her choices on vacation.

Many people who live near vacation destinations understand the environmental impact that tourism can have. From seeing turtles harmed by plastic straws to the poor air quality due to fires, the fragility of the planet is on display.

Even Disney in its new Epcot movie Awesome Planet showcases the beauty and potential dangers facing the one planet that everyone calls home. Without change, the planet will continue to face difficulties.

As travel trends ebb and flow, eco-conscious tourism could become the norm. Maybe a hotel will only offer reusable water bottles on property or only sell reef-friendly sunscreen in the gift shop. When all these little changes become the norm, the impact can be huge. Although it will not clean up the giant garbage patch, it can keep it from growing exponentially.

For the next vacation, business trip, or just quick getaway, consider the choices that are made during the trip. No one is saying that people should never travel the world. Instead, be conscious of the impact that those decisions make.

Next: Are tourists ruining some of the world's greatest treasures?
Are you being more eco-conscious while traveling? What eco-friendly choices do you think could have a big impact?