Leave No Trace: Just a Trend or Essential to Our Planet?

Aerial rice paddy field texture in Bali Indonesia – Leave No Trace trend

Ever heard of the leave no trace trend? 

As an individual, it may feel overwhelming when looking at the damage humans are causing to our planet. It might feel like there is nothing you can do. But you are wrong!

While it is true that big corporations need to do their duty to the environment to make a substantial difference, you can make a positive change too.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Measuring your carbon footprint

As soon as you take your first step on your traveling adventure, your carbon footprint tracker has started. You might think this starts when you leave your house, but it begins even before then.

The destination you choose matters

It starts the moment you open your computer and plan your trip. Where you decide to travel has a meaningful impact on your carbon footprint. Certain destinations are struggling to keep up with their influx of tourism, so instead of helping them by visiting, you will be hurting them. It is an unfortunate catch 22, especially when these areas rely on tourism but cannot keep up with the demand. 

Santorini has become the most popular island in Greece, but with the extent of visitors coming in you will be lucky if you can see over everyone’s heads to watch their world-renowned sunsets. The government got to the point they needed to restrict the number of cruise visitors to the island every day.

This gorgeous country has 226 other islands with equally stunning views for you to visit on your trip to the Mediterranean. There are also numerous other sites across the mainland that will bring you beautiful and unique experiences without the risk of contributing to over-tourism.

Making your packing count

Now that your next spot is picked out, it is time to pack your suitcase. While you may not think this can be related to making your trip sustainable, there are actually many ways you can be an eco-friendly packer!

Most importantly is to travel light. I know we all struggle with overpacking. The what-ifs and just in cases are endless when you have the fear of not having everything you own within a few feet of you. Take all those worries aside and realize you just need the essentials. Pack smarter, not harder. 

As you pack, think about the individual items you are packing as well. When it comes to toiletries, it is easy to find alternatives to using plastic bottles.

  • Start with a reusable toothbrush and razor to eliminate plastic that you will need to throw away after just a few months.
  • For shower items, consider a solid shampoo from Lush that has no plastic and you can choose one to fit your specific type of hair.
  • There are many types of small reusable containers you can use to put your large bottles of liquids into which not only help you pass the liquid limit on carryons but reduce the need for buying travel-sized versions of things you already have.

The big role that transport plays on your trips

Transportation accounts for almost half of the carbon footprint of global tourism, which makes it crucial to evaluate how you get from point A to point B.

Will you take a plane and emit .82 pounds of CO2 every mile you fly?

Take a minute before you embark, and think is there a more sustainable way I can make this trip?

Maybe you were going to fly from France to Germany, but if you take a train you only emit .13 pounds of CO2 per mile. While it delays your time, you need to think on the bright side; you are helping the planet, you will see the beautiful views of the cities you pass through and you won’t be stuck in a tiny airplane seat.

Obviously some trips you cannot take a train, but there are other ways you can plan to have a low impact through your choice of transportation.

When you arrive at your destination, do you choose to take a taxi (.55 pounds of CO2 per mile) or a transit bus which is not only less CO2 (.37 pounds per mile) but also more friendly on your wallet! Taking time to think about how you travel will make you a more conscious traveler and the planet will be better for it.

Accommodation’s impact

Where you stay on your travels can make a major impact on your footprint without you noticing.

Certain accommodations will have certifications by environmental organizations that ensure they are meeting the highest standards in being eco-friendly. Look for places that are a B Certified Corporation, are a part of the Regenerative Travel collection, or have a Global Sustainable Tourism Council accredited certification.

Make sure you do not fall victim to greenwashing!

This is when a company advertises they are eco-friendly but when you do further research it turns out they are covering their tracks. When looking for the most eco-friendly places to stay on your travels, research is key.

While their certifications are important, dig deeper into their story. Find out more about why they are advertising their sustainability. Is it because they are trying to cover something up? Or is it because at their core they are a supporter of our planet? Being an educated consumer is an extremely powerful thing. 

Tackling food waste and eating local

Trying different food is one of the best parts of visiting new places but there is a darker side to being a foodie. Our society has a massive food waste problem, and traveling only increases the negative effects.

Between hotel buffets and people’s desire to indulge themselves when on vacation, food is being wasted in inconceivable amounts.

Many countries that are remote and rely on tourism have increased levels of food imports to satisfy their guests. Having high amounts of imported goods negatively impacts the area’s carbon footprint.

Some ways you can make sure you are limiting your amount of waste is by shopping for local foods and eating at local restaurants.

Everything counts

It can be intimidating to try and plan a sustainable vacation, but it is possible! The important thing is that you are trying. Do your research, be a knowledgeable consumer, and do your best to leave no trace. 

Where to next? Leave No Trace

Looking for some ideas of where to go next? With your carbon foot tracker starting as soon as you start planning where to travel to, it is crucial to evaluate your options in terms of limiting your CO2 emissions.

Research might sound boring, but there is a way to make planning your next sustainable trip easy and entertaining.

The new television program, Leave No Trace, is a luxury travel show that showcases incredible locations and experiences around the world with a focus on ecotourism, sustainability, and social responsibility.

The host, Richard Crawford, travels to exciting destinations while highlighting the eco-friendly features of each place. You will have the unique opportunity to experience fantastic bucket list items from your very own couch that will inspire you for your own plans!

Social responsibility is a key factor in fighting issues in sustainability. We as a human race need to truly understand our part in the problems we are facing with the environment and what we can do to make a positive impact.

We cannot fix the issues those before us have created, but we can do our best to create new initiatives and take responsibility in the present, in order to create a better future for generations to come. Richard explores deep into the issues in a community and uncovers the ways locals are working together to combat these issues and how they are making their mark on the world. 

You will be transported to your wildest dreams each episode, and discover the wonders that exist around the planet. While on this journey, you will learn how people are putting sustainability at the foreground of what they do and why it is so important.

Find out how organizations implement “eco ethics” into their business model to ensure their guests are not only getting luxury treatment but will be helping the environment while doing so. Listen to the people who are making it their life mission to bring sustainable efforts to their region. After watching this series, you will be inspired to travel and leave no trace.

Farm to table and carbon-neutral enterprises in Peru

Episode one takes you to southern Peru to find out what sustainable efforts are taking place at one of the eight wonders of the world. In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Richard is a guest at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, one of the first world leaders of ecotourism.

One of the impressive feats of this organization is the fact it was Peru’s first tourism enterprise to have the status of being Carbon Neutral. Throughout his trip, he sheds light on the farm-to-table efforts of the different hotels he stays in and the delicious meals that come from them. 

Of course while in Peru, Richard is determined to check an item off his bucket list and visit the extraordinary site of Machu Picchu. The views will take your breath away, especially when you think about the true historical significance of where you are.

However, he hears about the dangers that over-tourism is bringing to the magnificent piece of history. The Incan ruins are, ironically, being ruined by this human problem. In the episode, locals discuss the ways different organizations are working hard to implement sustainable efforts to preserve this incredible site. 

Taking care of nature in Eastern Africa

Midway through the adventure, Richard flies to Eastern Africa, where he is able to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Kenya is famous for the region’s magnificent creatures, and Richard dives into being one with the animals. Being the daring traveler that he is, he embarks on a riveting night safari where he faces his fears face to face with lions.

This luxury would disappear if it wasn’t for the remarkable people Richard meets that are doing their best to protect the animals.

It is a scary world out there where there are still people trying to hurt these innocent creatures, but there are wonderful people who dedicate their lives to making sure they see another day.

Visiting unique locations like this help remind you that at the end of the day, we are all here because of gifts from nature, and it is our duty to respect and take care of these gifts.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in The Maldives

Rounding out the season is one of the show’s most luxurious locations, the Maldives.

Stunning turquoise waters greet Richard as he arrives at the island. The ultra-relaxing atmosphere of the area is only enhanced once you realize you are actually doing good by staying there. Behind the unbelievable villas, is the Eco-Centro philosophy that powers the resort.

Throughout a tour of the astonishing retreat, Richard learns what the organization is doing to fulfill its sustainable goals.

Whether it is through their own recycled glass studio or the miraculous fact that as an island surrounded by saltwater, they are actually able to produce fresh drinking water for the surrounding islands. You will leave this resort feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and proud of choosing such a sustainable place to stay.

Moving forward

Now you have finished season one, and are dying to watch more?

Do not worry, Richard is currently in the process of filming the next couple of seasons as we begin to navigate traveling in the post-Covid world.

With the ongoing pandemic still a pressing issue in many countries, it cannot be ignored when planning a trip. The crisis we have been constantly dealing with has shown us, even more, the importance of taking care of each other and mother nature. Richard will be acknowledging the ever-changing field of traveling during a pandemic.

Being a responsible traveler meant filming was on hold for a long time, but slowly and safely he will continue to bring the excitement of travel right to your living room.

Keep reading: Sustainable and responsible tourism