Six Steps to Sustainable Travel
Here at Context, Sustainable Travel has been one of the main themes of 2010 and it will continue to be in 2011.
Our efforts span from the basic recycling of paper, glass and plastic in our offices to sponsoring projects through our Context Foundation. However, to make a real difference, we strive to go even further. We believe that along with in-house initiatives, it is our role to educate travelers on what sustainable travel means, how it effects the cities and countries we visit, and what we can do to preserve them.
The web is full of suggestions, but we decided to make our own list of Sustainable Steps to Travel, a sort of guideline that will help travelers visiting our cities “tread more lightly”.
Context’s Six Steps to Sustaining our cities
EXPERIENCE LESSER-KNOWN SITES
While we understand the desire to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, these sites are overwhelmed by tourists, and thus often fail to leave you with a profound effect. If you wish to have a true understanding of the great cities of the world, you will gain much more insight at lesser-known museums, monuments and city neighborhoods, bustling with real life and culture.
With a few simple choices you can make your trip more environmentally friendly. Stay in an apartment rather than a hotel; walk or use public transit rather than take taxis; opt for green businesses; and consider offsetting the carbon produced by your travel.
PATRONIZE LOCAL BUSINESSES
Chain stores, large touristy restaurants, and tasteless souvenir shops give little back to the community. Locally-owned business which provide higher quality services and goods, and are often found just a few blocks away from major sites. This mutually beneficial exchange will sustain artisans and small authentic restaurateurs, and allow us to also find a genuine cultural momento.
Tourism has a way of being insular. Staying at hotels, eating in big impersonal restaurants, and visiting only the big, touristy sites do not provide us with many meaningful opportunities to interact with locals. Seek experiences outside of this structure. Search out things like workshops, language lessons, and adventures in real neighborhoods. Take a chance to chat with someone. You might get a new perspectives on the city.
RESPECT THE LOCAL CULTURE
See the differences between the destination and your home as an opportunity rather than an annoyance. We may not have ice in our drink or being staying in as large a hotel room as we are used to; however, we may find inspiration in the difference—maybe a spectacular view of some square or access to some unusual neighborhood. These are the experiences we can only have through traveling.
Preserving and maintaining the patrimony of these great cities requires financial resources. Look at ways to support sustainable efforts, such as donating to the French Heritage Society, the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, Friends of Florence or Save Venice. One excellent way is by supporting the Context Foundation, a pass-through organization that donates to these institutions and other worthy projects.