We all love to travel and go on vacations, and why not? It’s probably the best way to fade mental exhaustion. No matter where we head to, a few days off from routine surely rejuvenates us. But do you know that travelling often also causes environmental pollution? Whether we travel via flight, road or train – we somehow contribute to degrading the environment. Toxic emissions from fuel, using plastics, disturbing the natural habitat of wild plants and animals by trespassing, etc. in major ways lead to environmental pollution. As a responsible traveller, we should take measures to protect the environment while enjoying our trip by eco friendly and sustainable travel.

What is Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainable meaning is to avoid the depletion of natural resources for future generations by focusing on measures towards saving the environment. Sustainable travel focuses on minimising the environmental impact of travel or tourism and taking steps to preserve natural resources for future generations.

Types of Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel involves mindful choices and practices that minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment. Here are several types of sustainable travel:

1. Eco-tourism: This form of travel focuses on the preservation of natural habitats and the promotion of biodiversity. It includes engaging in activities that reduce ecological footprint while supporting conservation efforts.

2. Cultural Tourism: This type of travel emphasises understanding and respect for local cultures. Participation in cultural exchange and support of local artisans helps in the preservation of different traditions.

3. Slow Travel: Advocating for a more relaxed pace of travel, slow travel encourages the exploration of fewer destinations in-depth. It reduces the pollution and other impacts from transportation.

4. Local and Organic Food Tourism: This encourages travellers to support local farmers and markets, choose organic and locally sourced foods, and explore regional cuisines.

5. Carbon-Neutral Travel: This type of travel involves offsetting the carbon footprint generated by travel through initiatives such as tree planting, supporting renewable energy projects, or contributing to carbon offset programs.

Ecotourism/ Eco Friendly Travel

Eco-tourism is the process of travelling in natural areas without disturbing the integrity of the ecosystem. The eco friendly form of tourism helps minimise the impact on ecosystems, promote environmental awareness, and support local communities.

Green Travel

Eco friendly travel or Green travel means reducing natural resource consumption and pollution while travelling. It includes opting for eco friendly accommodations and supporting businesses committed to sustainability. For example, choosing public transportation, reducing plastic usage, and participating in nature-friendly activities to minimise carbon footprint.
Advantages of Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism or eco tourism has many advantages:

1. Environmental Conservation: Sustainable tourism helps minimise the negative impact on natural environments and promotes conservation efforts towards the preservation of biodiversity.

2. Culture and Community Empowerment: Sustainable tourism involves community engagement and cultural empowerment. By adopting this form of tourism, local communities benefit through employment opportunities, cultural exchange, and preservation of heritage and traditions.

3. Reduced Carbon Footprint: It helps in reducing carbon emissions and promotes energy conservation and waste management. Limiting carbon footprint will help in the expansion of a healthy environment for wildlife and locals related to it.

4. Preservation of Historic Sites: Sustainable tourism emphasises the protection and preservation of historical and archaeological sites. This will allow future generations to witness and appreciate the historic heritage.

5. Educational Opportunities: Ecotourism provides educational opportunities for both travellers and locals. Tourists gain insights into environmental and cultural conservation along with the exchange of diverse cultures and traditions.

Ways to Become an Eco Friendly/Sustainable Traveller

Adoption of Ecotourism can help both the present and the future of our earth. Let’s pledge to become eco friendly ‘green’ travellers and ensure to not leave an environmental footprint by following these methods:

  • Avoid Plastic & Carry Reusables: Plastic is the enemy of Mother Nature – we’re sure you must have read about how marine life is in danger due to the plastic waste filling up the oceans. Thus, it is extremely essential to quit the use of single-use plastics including water bottles, cutlery, bags and other non-biodegradable items. To avoid harming the environment, carry a refillable water bottle instead of buying a disposable one every few hours. Consider carrying your own toiletries, reusable shopping bags, etc. to reduce plastic waste.
  • Avoid Food Wastage: According to reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food wastage has a severe impact on climate, land, water and biodiversity. And you will be stunned to know that every year, tons of food gets wasted throughout the globe as a consequence of tourism. You, as a traveller, can take small steps to bring a big change in this ‘food wastage’ epidemic. Opt out of buffets and order only the amount of food that you are sure to finish. It is also a good idea to pack your own food, especially if you have kids or elders along.
  • Pack Lighter: Surprised how over-packing can have an ill effect on the environment? Well, it is true – the weight of your luggage does make a difference, especially if you’re travelling by air. The carbon emissions from the aircraft can take a huge toll on the environment. Reports suggest that excess weight on a plane means it burns more fuel, leading to greater carbon emissions. Therefore, when flying, you must make sure that you are carrying only the ‘most required’ things and dump the rest.
  • Save Paper: It’s not an unknown fact that billions of trees worldwide are being cut down each year for paper, which leads to deforestation, soil erosion and floods. And paper is still used throughout the globe for packaging, communication, documentation, and so on. As an eco friendly traveller, you can do your bit in saving paper by carrying a soft copy of your tickets and other essential documents that you would need while travelling. Also, why invest in a paperback when you can read on your iPad or a digital tablet like Kindle. Similarly, if you’re someone who journals their travels, do it on your phone or tablet to help save paper.
  • Reduce Energy Use: The power plants that produce electricity generate an enormous amount of harmful emissions that pollute the air, and in the long run, affect the climate. Hence, limiting energy use is absolutely necessary for protecting the environment. So, make it a point to turn off the lights, AC and TV when you leave your hotel rooms (even if you aren’t paying for it!). If you don’t want your room to be vacuumed, leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door before leaving. Another smart way of reducing electricity consumption while travelling is to opt for a bigger room or cottage instead of multiple small rooms for accommodating your family.
  • Conserve Water: The water resources around the globe are already overwhelmed by over-use and waste. Hence, it is essential for you to know how to save water while travelling. The easiest thing to do is choose a bath over a shower, as it uses almost double the amount of water. Also, take shorter baths and turn off the taps while you shampoo, shave, lather up or brush your teeth. Try and wash your clothes by yourself, if needed, instead of giving them for hotel laundry as it uses up more water than you think.
  • Use Public Transport: Ever wondered what’s the point of visiting the hills, if the air quality is just as bad there? The primary reason why air quality is declining at an alarming rate, even in mountainous areas, is the increased number of tourist vehicles. To limit fuel consumption and carbon emissions, you must take public transport when possible. And even if you have to rent a car, go for a smaller model to reduce the impact on the environment. If it is possible to explore the destination on a bicycle or on foot, nothing could be better.
  • Go for Eco Friendly Options: Over the last few years, many hotels and other accommodation options have propped up across the world that are making a conscious effort to preserve resources and protect the environment. Pick eco-hotels that have sustainability initiatives like rainwater harvesting, solar power, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, etc. Also, choose tour companies that help you follow the best environmental practices throughout the trip and do not have a negative impact on the environment. You can also pick from tourist destinations that are trying to preserve their local ecosystems and promote sustainable tourism.
  • Never Litter: Littering is a disgraceful act that not only ruins the beauty of a landscape but also leads to improper waste management and an unhealthy environment. So, try not to litter (not even once, not even a cigarette’s butt). Always follow a leave-no-trace regimen, i.e. wherever you go whether it be a camp, park, beach or any other place, make sure anything you carry in, you carry out too. Don’t forget to throw the trash in dustbins, according to what can or cannot be recycled. It is also a good idea to carry a small bag with you to round up the trash.
  • Follow Rules: Rules are not meant to be broken (or bent), especially while travelling as every tourist destination applies certain regulations to ensure the complete safety of the travellers as well as the environment. For instance, when going on a trekking or hiking trip, always stay on trails – do not wander off to take a selfie as it can be dangerous. While exploring a wildlife hotspot, don’t hamper the plant life or feed animals, and don’t click pictures with flash. Always follow all the instructions when indulging in an adventure activity. Breaking rules may not only lead to a hefty fine or severe punishment but also cause harm to yourself or nature.

Difference between Green Tourism, Ecotourism, and Sustainable Tourism

The terms “green tourism,” “eco-tourism,” and “sustainable tourism” are often used interchangeably as they don’t have many differences in their focus and objectives.

1. Green Tourism

Green Tourism concentrates on minimising the environmental impact of tourism activities. It aims to reduce the resource consumption, waste generation, and pollution associated with travel and hospitality. For example, energy-efficient hotels or accommodations and eco friendly transportation.

2. Ecotourism

Ecotourism or eco travel focuses on conservation, biodiversity, and the preservation of natural ecosystems. For example, tours to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and nature reserves where efforts are made to minimise the ecological impact and contribute to conservation.

3. Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism meaning is addressing the economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism. It helps in maintaining a balance between economic benefits for communities with the protection of natural resources. Sustainable tourism examples include community-based tourism initiatives and fair wages for local workers.

You’d be surprised to know how these little changes can have a substantial impact on the big picture and allow you to have a sustainable, healthy and environment friendly travelling experience.


Q. What is the most environmentally friendly method of travel?

A. The most environment friendly methods of travel are walking, biking, and travelling by train.

Q. Is eco-tourism really eco friendly?

A. Yes, eco-tourism promotes the preservation of the environment by limiting carbon footprint and adopting environment friendly practices.

Q. What makes a hotel eco friendly?

A. An eco friendly hotel is a hotel that’s committed to reducing its carbon footprint by taking sustainable actions such as solar panels, waste reduction, using non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products, and limiting water consumption.

Q. Explain eco friendly practices for eco tourism?

A. Opting for sustainable practices helps in the preservation of the environment. Some of the practices during travelling for an eco friendly environment are travelling off-peak or off-beat, opting for road or rail, choosing eco-conscious accommodation, and packing reusable items.