Eco-Tourism in South America is not exactly their strong suit. While it seems that some countries in South America are beginning to catch up in terms of recycling and land preservation, it seems as though the country´s main concern is making money not making peace with the environment even though tourism is rising.
I am a firm believer that taking care of the environment starts with the foot-print (or lack there -of) from each individual traveler.
Below are a few tips on how to travel through South America with an eco-conscious mindset while minimizing your impact on the earth:
Stay Away from Bags
I live in Bolivia and joke that I should create a blog called, ¨Bolivia in a Bag¨ because literally everything is served in a plastic bag. Milk, water, butter, ice-cream, soda, you name it, it´s served in a plastic bag. Besides Bolivia, I see plastic bags used as a form of container for many things in South America. On any given day, I could take a walk and count hundreds of plastic bags wrapped up in the plant life, littered throughout the parks and wreaking havoc on the natural habitat. So how can you limit your consumption of bags? Well, for starters invest in a water bottle. Also, if you are dining at a street-food-cart, many times they have the option to drink out of a glass vase or a glass bottle, as long as you stay with the cart and return the bottle or vase when you are through.
These two simple practices will greatly decrease your individual footprint.
Take Short Showers
At my community house we have a sign posted in the bathroom that says, ¨Bolivians use 4 times less water than the average foreigner.¨ It is enough of a compelling sign to cut my showers by at least half the time that I am use too. North Americans from the United States take some of the longest self-indulgent showers in comparison to the rest of the world. It is not wise, nor sustainable to take showers longer than five minutes in South America. In many places the water tanks used to heat up the water require a significant amount of energy output, which is also not sustainable.
If you can limit yourself to a four-minute shower with lukewarm water, you are greatly minimizing your eco-footprint.
Stay in Eco-Lodges
Frommer´s guide named South America as, ¨one of the planet´s prime ecotourism destinations¨, mostly likely due to the fact that it holds some of the most pristine and untouched eco-systems in the world. Around these parts, you can find remote lodges and communities that are improving sustainability, investing in natural resource management, and doing everything they can to live in harmony with their fragile surroundings.
If you are looking to embark upon a sustainable, eco-conscious adventure, check interactivejungle.com, for some of the best eco-lodges in South America.
How will you minimize your footprint while traveling through South America?