05 Simple Methods to Cut Down the Carbon Footprint of Your Next Holiday to Sri Lanka

Ella Sri Lanka

Environmental consciousness has considerably increased in the last couple of years. In the words of the teenage environmental activist, Greta Thurnberg, ‘Our house is on fire’. Climate change, global warming, increase in pollution, rapid extinction of many species and much more has definitely caused many to rethink their practices and daily activities that might be causing a negative impact on the environment. A comprehensive study done in 2019 proved that tourism’s global carbon footprint has increased by 15% and accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

For those of you who may be confused and unclear about the term carbon footprint, here’s a basic explanation. A carbon footprint can be defined as the overall amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere by human activities. These greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The release of these gases affects the ozone layer and causes what is known as man-made climate change or global warming. There are many ways and standards to calculate the carbon footprints at a national, international or even an organizational level.

If travel is one of the biggest environmental concerns when it comes to the carbon footprint what does it mean for those of us who love to travel? Fortunately for us, the carbon footprint is also a powerful tool to understand the impact of personal behavior on global warming. Therefore even though as individuals you and I may not be able to solve the problems of climate change, we can definitely alter our practices so that our carbon footprint is quite low. If we make small changes to our travel plans we can definitely cut down on our individual carbon footprint which could make a huge difference in the long run. Let’s live by the cliché saying, ‘Be the change you want to see’, and start with us.

One of the best places for you to minimize your carbon footprint while on holiday is in Sri Lanka. This beautiful tourist nation has also been repeatedly named one of the best places to visit. So while you plan your visit to this welcoming island, here are just five simple ways to cut down on your carbon footprint while on holiday.

1. Transportation

As you may have guessed, one of the major ways in which greenhouse gases enter the environment is because of the gases emitted by vehicles. In 2020, more than ever before, people own private vehicles and prefer traveling in them mainly for ease and convenience. But studies have shown that most people travel alone in a car that can seat 5 people. People have been encouraged to either car-pool or travel by public transport in order to reduce the amount of vehicles on the street. The major reasoning behind this is not to reduce traffic, although that is definitely an advantage as well, but to reduce the amount of gas that is released into the environment. Taking public transport or car-pooling with a friend or colleague reduces the carbon footprint.

This practice can be employed even on your vacation in Sri Lanka. Most Sri Lankans travel by public transport on a daily basis. Public transport in Sri Lanka is quite cheap and easy to access in most tourist areas. Even though the use of three-wheelers are also convenient, we strongly urge you to either take the bus or train as your primary mode of transport. Most of the railway lines in Sri Lanka take the scenic route, allowing you to experience many beautiful sites while also doing your part in saving the planet. The use of public transport will also give you a great opportunity to strike up some interesting conversations with the locals and observe a unique culture up close and personal.

2. Eat less meat

Scientists have highly recommended that meat and dairy product consumption should be reduced. The industry of livestock rearing is thought to contribute up to 14.5% of people’s greenhouse gas emissions. Rearing animals for food takes up quite a lot of energy as they require high quantities of food and water to be bred for human consumption. Additionally, animals also produce a lot of waste, including methane gas which has a negative impact on the ozone layer if not dealt with properly. Even though the practice of eating less meat should be followed on a daily basis, most people tend to indulge more in meat and dairy products when on holidays.

Fortunately for you, Sri Lanka offers a variety of dishes that does not include meat. Being vegetarian is not an unusual concept in Sri Lanka, as many Sri Lankans follow this practice due to religious reasons. Therefore there are many dishes that are offered across the country that does not include dairy or meat. The experience of trying new dishes and tasting traditional Sri Lankan meals are not compromised as most traditional dishes do not include meat. Another concern that most people have is that once meat or dairy is reduced, they may not receive protein in any other format. However as Sri Lankans are very used to the idea of vegetarians, protein is incorporated into meals in other forms. Therefore this might be the best place to attempt to eat less meat if you have not practiced this already as the dishes are still packed with flavor and high in nutrients.

3. Eco-friendly Resort

One of the first things most people do when planning a holiday, is to pick an accommodation. Before booking your accommodation, it is important to check and research online or even contact the place directly to find out about their eco credentials. Using local food to reduce food miles and supporting the local community, monitoring and reviewing environmental impacts and policies on a regular basis and reusing and recycling products are some of the important aspects that can be investigated. Staying at a resort or hotel that is not environmentally conscious means that you too are indirectly contributing to the damage done to the environment.

Sri Lanka is home to many eco-friendly resorts. One of which is Santani resort and spa located in the central highlands of the island. Santani is designed according to the highest sustainability and eco-standards as it is based on the foundation of harmony between nature and sustainable wellness. Santani serves a vegan or vegetarian gourmet cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs that is guaranteed to nourish your soul. Additionally the design of this resort reflect the harmonizing architecture to the landscape as instead of dominating over the environment, it is built in such a way that it connects to the surrounding. This allows the flooding of the resort by the spiritual tranquility of nature. Staying in such an eco-friendly accommodation will cause an extensive reduction in your carbon footprint.

4. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

One of the key principles in helping the environment is the 3R policy. While we may have become accustomed to practice this while at home, we tend to slip up when we go on holiday as we tend to consider it as a ‘break’. Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s vice president of experience, said ‘Reuse items where you can, just like home.’ This would mean staying away from single use products such as plastic bags and straws and intentionally reusing the plastic water bottles and toiletries.

Sri Lanka is a great place to practice this. Most of the local products are made from natural substances which uses much less polythene and plastic materials in these industries compared to most others. Supporting these local industries would also mean in helping the planet. Additionally Sri Lanka is rapidly evolving and adjusting to the eco-friendly steps as they promote and incentivize the use of cloth bags and reusable items.

5. Shop Local

Buying food, souvenirs and any product that is produced locally is environmentally beneficially as it means that it wouldn’t have travelled hundreds of miles. This not only directly supports the people in the country you are visiting but also allows you to have new experiences as you visit new places. An important thing to do is to stay away from the large tourist restaurant chains and large tour companies and rather seek out the local restaurant and local tour guides. Eating and shopping local definitely lowers the carbon footprint as you stop contributing to the industry that has a higher carbon footprint.

Fortunately for you, Sri Lanka is filled with many local industries situated across the country, offering a range of high quality products. When visiting the local tea factories or garment industries, you can be assured that you are not only helping the local industry while having new experiences, but also helping the environment and doing your part in reducing the carbon footprint. Secondly the Sri Lankan cuisine is much raved about. One of the best parts of travel is trying out various local delicacies. We assure you that there is such a variety in the Sri Lankan cuisine and there are so many independent restaurants that makes it quite easy to eat local.

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