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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BEING A ‘GREEN TOURIST’

environment

By Alex Mardikian

Hawaii is ecology is becoming increasingly sensitive to the pressures it is facing from its human population. A floating population consisting of tourists adds to the waste and refuse that the island administration has to deal with. It is possible to enjoy Hawaii and contribute to its cleanliness drive. 

You can be a green tourist, educate others about it, and do your bit for the environment. Ecotourism is no longer a fad; conscientious tourists are adopting it seriously. There are so many different ecosystems that shelter and provide habitat different species. More than one billion people travel each year. And whether knowingly or unknowingly, people contribute to global warming, pollution, and e-waste. 

Today, hotels attract eco-conscious tourists and also save on costs with energy efficient systems and local produce. 

Things you can do to – 

  1. Pack sensibly – Pack your own toiletries so that you don’t have to use the packaged products offered by the hotel. You will contribute to reducing waste generated by disposable toiletries. 
  2. Contribute to offset carbon emission projects – There are projects that fund clean and renewable energy sources that include solar power stations and wind farms. The Conservation Fund and Native Energy are two such projects. One ton of carbon emission can be offset by as little as $9, which is not a big contribution. 
  3. In the ocean, keep your hands to yourself – It will keep you safe from stinging and biting creatures that may be too well camouflaged, and will keep coral safe from your heavy foot. Coral is a living thing, and it grows very slowly. Also, don’t feed fish in the ocean. Your intent may be to help, but you may end up hurting the creatures by feeding them what they’re not supposed to consume.
  4. Don’t litter – It goes without saying, but this bears repetition. Don’t litter on the beaches. Plastic bags, wrappers, bottles and caps, cans…there’s a lot of avoidable litter on Hawaii’s beaches. If you can, pick up trash. You’ll inspire others watching you and there’s every chance that you will save a turtle or a seagull from ingesting plastic and dying a painful death.
  5. Give the animals space – You may be tempted to reach out and get a picture with a turtle or a Hawaiian monk seal. Please let these animals be. These species are protected by law. 
  6. Choose catch and release – If you’re planning a fishing trip, consider catch and release. Our seas are already overfished. Check with the charter boat if it practices catch and release. 
  7. Carry a garbage bag – Carry a garbage bag with you, so that you can use it for fruit peels, empty bottles, cigarette butts, and sundry items that many people thoughtlessly litter on the roads.
  8. Choose energy-efficient transportation – Choose cars that offer the best mileage. Compare costs. Hybrids may be environmentally friendly but are an expensive alternative. 
  9. Interisland travel – Plan your itinerary so that you travel the least. You’ll contribute immeasurably to a reduction in the overall carbon footprint that affects Hawaii by choosing the cheaper and more environment-friendly ferries between Maui and Lanai and Maui and Molokai.
  10. Save resources – Groundwater is the main source of drinking water in Hawaii. Conservation of water is a big issue in the state which is grappling with a growing population and peaks in tourist traffic during the holiday season. Ditto for power. Electricity generation from burning fossil fuel is environmentally harmful and expensive. You can contribute to this by using electricity only when necessary, and saving water by bathing from a bucket instead of using a shower. A simple step like keeping the faucet off when brushing teeth or shaving can be of immense help. 
  11. Use public transportation – One of the biggest strains on Hawaii’s fragile ecology is the exhaust from vehicles. By switching to public transport or better still walking or using a bicycle, you can make a big difference. Hawaii’s public transport system has 80 buses running on hybrid fuel; you can save money and the environment by opting for the full-day pass that costs $5.50. 
  12. Recycle – Inculcate the habit of using less, reusing, and recycling. If you can make this a part of your lifestyle, you will follow the routine from force of habit, regardless of where you are. Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues in Waikiki have recycling containers for disposal or recyclable items. Public attractions in Oahu have recycling bins that are meant for public use.