February 20, 2020

Keep the environment in mind when traveling this spring break

By Catherine Brown —

With spring break around the corner, it’s fun to imagine sitting on a beach chair in the Bahamas or traveling to sunny Orlando to visit the major theme park attractions when stuck in school.

Tourism is an industry that can be beneficial to many countries or territories, and spring break brings a large rush of tourists to these countries.

Because of the high demand for goods and services in these areas, they can charge hundreds of dollars for underwater exploration experiences, sell overpriced sun lotion and even load hotel prices with “hidden fees.” 

While it may be frustrating taking out entire savings just for a week spent on the beach, the tourism industry causes environmental experts even more frustration.

“The most pressing environmental impacts of tourism are the carbon emissions and land use impacts of driving and/or flying to get to natural areas,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability at the University of Louisville.

He said that flying is one of the most environmentally destructive things you can do.

Island tourism suffers problems of its own. According to Sustaining Tourism, popular island tourist destinations suffer from water shortages or unclean water, high crowding, lack of recycling and climate change resulting in rising sea levels, among other problems.

If these islands were to continue being overrun by tourism, the native population could lose a significant amount of their clean, natural resources. 

Unsanitary water would be both undrinkable and unliveable for human and marine life. Plastics used in food and drink or hygienic amenities would be improperly disposed of and cause water pollution.

According to the Climate Reality Project, “The Pacific region is seeing seas rise much faster than the global average.”

In 2019, President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine said that by the year 2030, the Marshall Islands will be completely underwater. 

The Marshall Islands has a population of more than 53,000, more than two times as many people as Jeffersontown or Frankfort, Ky.

Marshall Islands officials are doing everything they can to try to prevent a catastrophe that could lead to lost resources, homes and lives.

In order to help the planet, travelers should be aware of measures they can take to prevent leaving a harmful impact on the environment when traveling.

“Consider a bike tour to your destination, or a canoe, kayak, or sailboat trip, or at least carpool to your destination, or take the bus or train,” Mog said. Traveling can be affordable and environmentally friendly by avoiding harmful methods of travel like flying.

When traveling domestically or abroad, be aware that the land you’re on belongs to the local population. 

If traveling abroad, such as to an island nation or smaller island states, read Sustainable Tourism’s Travel Tips, which include not littering, taking shorter showers, not purchasing or eating endangered species, using public transportation and even specific tips for select destinations. 

Wherever students go on spring break this semester, it is important to travel eco-friendly and respectfully.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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