Commemorated every year on 5 June, World Environment Day is one of the main ways the United Nations “stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.” It’s also a day to remind us to take stock of our own behaviour, and that includes what we do when we’re travelling.
Whether we’re swimming in it, paddling on it, or drinking it – luxuriating in refreshing water can bring us infinite pleasure while we’re on holidays. But of course we don’t want it to be at the cost of the local residents. Nearly 3 billion people or half the world live in water-scarce conditions and people are travelling more than ever, so how can we be water wise when we’re away from home?
1) Take a quick shower instead of a bath – with mindfulness! Try and keep the day-dreaming for once you are out of the shower. A bucket bath (or mandi) can use even less water and be very refreshing.
2) Pack a universal sink plug (available at good travel gear stores), so if the basin doesn’t have a plug, you have one and can rinse out some clothing, shave or wash without running the tap continuously.
3) Use a glass of water when you brush your teeth.
4) Opt in to towel and sheet re-use schemes in the hotel, and advise management if the cleaners don’t follow it or if the hotel don’t advertise such a scheme.
5) A dripping tap could waste up to 5,000 litres – ask management to repair.
6) Avoid excess flushing of the toilet and don’t use it as a general waste bin. In some areas toilet waste may go straight into the sea or water ways. Small items like the plastic stick of cotton buds, can slip through filters and end up being ingested by marine life.
7) Self-catering? Just fill kettles and jugs with the water you need.
8 ) Find out where the water is coming from, and what the situation is for the local people. Your care with their resources can make a big difference.
Our friends at Tourism Concern are working hard to press the international tourism industry and governments in tourism destinations to ensure that the water rights of local people are protected in the face of increasing competition from the industry. To help them, please take the WET (Water Equity in Tourism) Pledge and add your voice!
* photo by Thomas Carr – Intrepid Photography Competition