Minimalism is the Secret to Sustainable Tourism

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By Katie Fisher

In the current wave of eco-tourism, the concept of ‘minimalist tourism’ has been brought to a new light. Minimalism generally refers to living simply and without attachment to many physical items. In this way, the minimalist lifestyle is less wasteful and does less damage to the environment. By bringing minimalist values into international tourism, you can discover simple changes you can make to support the environment as well as ethical tourism. 

Is Tourism Sustainable?

The rapid increase in international travel in recent years has brought to light the adverse impacts of tourism. Currently, over-tourism is a global issue causing both environmental and social effects.

Many negative environmental impacts are related to the increasing construction of tourism facilities such as airports, resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops and golf courses. Tourist hot-spots around the world also suffer terribly from tourists mistreating their environment. Destroying nature spots and disrespecting locals and their culture are common tropes of the thoughtless tourist. Sustainability covers more than maintaining ecological balance and protecting the environment. It also includes economic, societal and personal welfare. Tourists in some areas have become known for their rude manner, poor drunken behaviour, littering, and overall lack of respect. There is also no forgetting the environmental impacts of travelling. The host country is left to deal with the extra pollution and waste produced by unmindful tourists.

The depletion of natural resources can also put immense pressure on areas which already run scarce. This can include using up water resources and land degradation. In dry regions, like the Mediterranean, water scarcity is of particular concern and tourists tend to consume almost double what the resident of an average Spanish city use. Attempts to manage these effects of large-scale tourism have become increasingly drastic. In the Philippines, the island of Borocay decided to close to all tourists to give the environment time to recover from the tourism surge of recent years. As it stands, tourism is an unsustainable practise that is having lasting damage.

Why Do Your Travel Habits Matter?

The desire to travel has increased exponentially amongst millennials and Gen-Z. The challenge that comes with this is doing it sustainably. Many environmentally-conscious tourists strive to have a beneficial impact on the country they are visiting and reduce their carbon footprint while travelling. The choices we make while travelling have a substantial effect on the places we visit and the surrounding environment. The secret to maintaining sustainable travel is becoming a minimalist tourist.

Minimalism focuses on dismissing anything that is unessential. Thinking with a minimalist mindset will make you aware of how many excess belongings you might have. Consuming excess possessions creates more waste, a large amount of which ends up in landfills. Minimalism makes you more aware of how much waste you generate.

The concept stems beyond what you own into other aspects of life. Using a minimalist mindset to determine how you spend your time will ensure that you are focussing on what you value most. When travelling this may impact where you stay, eat or who you form relationships with. Sustainability goes far beyond the environment, and the economics, society and individual wellbeing of a host country should be considered.

How To Become An Eco-Friendly Tourist?

There are some simple ways you can both significantly improve your experience and ensure that your travelling sustainably. As a tourist, a minimalist mindset may help you determine where to spend your money. Contributing to the economy of the host country is an excellent way to enhance your experience and add to sustainable travel. You may choose to support a small local business, restaurant or accommodation rather than a large, international corporation or chain.

To reduce waste while travelling, pack only the things you need. Minimalists travel with less baggage, only bringing the essentials. For most travellers, this will include a passport, credit card, money, enough versatile clothing and essential toiletries. While packing light for your travel may not sound appealing and may even pose a challenge for some, thinking about the multi-functionality of items may make minimalist packing more accessible. The concept is flexible, and you can find a way that best suits you. It is not based upon depriving yourself of anything but instead becoming conscious of what is unnecessary and the waste it produces.

For Eco-Friendly travel, you should also make conscious decisions on your purchases. Only consuming the plastic, non-recyclables and petrol that you need means that fewer nonrenewable resources are wasted. The best way to put this into practise in to reuse, reuse, reuse! Using things more than once or boring when possible helps create a less wasteful and more sustainable way of travelling.

There are many excellent ways to reduce your carbon footprint and travel greener, but praising minimalism may be a good start! Focussing on what you need and truly value while becoming aware of the waste you produce can make a big difference. To what ever degree you can embrace it, minimalism could be the secret to sustainable tourism

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