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earth day 2020

The Good Earth: Climate Change, Public Health and Corporate Social Responsibility

Our Earth is the only home we have ever known. It is the only home we will ever know. For far too long, it was all too easy to take this good Earth for granted.

Nowadays, however, it seems that the issue of climate change is on everyone’s lips. It saturates old and new media. But when we speak of climate change, the first things that spring to most people’s minds are melting glaciers, raging wildfires, and emaciated polar bears desperately scavenging for food.

What is little recognized in all the rightful furore over climate change is the profound public health threat that climate change poses. And, as usual, it is the world’s poorest and most vulnerable who are affected first and who are affected worst.

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how to book a green holiday

How to Book a Great Green Holiday

UPDATED February 2020

Now, more than ever, tourists are aware of the impact of their travels, both ecologically and culturally. With so much emphasis on the changing climate, there is a growing desire to go green, which means people are making a conscious effort to consider ethical and environmentally-friendly options when planning their trips, both at home and abroad.

As green travel becomes more ingrained in the mainstream, people are moving away from the glitzy, chain hotels and pre-planned package holidays opting instead for green holidays at small family-run establishments, boutique stays or holiday rentals. And with climate change currently front and centre in the media, more and more people are choosing to ditch flying, deciding to travel by other means instead.

airbnb woodend

When it comes to booking a green holiday, however, not everyone is au fait with what to do or who to book through. It’s often easier to stick with what you know. But where’s the fun in that?

These days there are so many amazing sustainable tourism options and green stays available that finding what’s right for you should no longer be a challenge. However, if you do need some guidance, check our handy cheat sheet on how to book a green holiday below.

~ Research the destination carefully

With the rise of ecotourism, there are so many travel options available now it’s hard to choose where to go. Decide what type of holiday you’re looking for first, for example: beach, city, mountain; then narrow down your search to a country. You may already have a few ideas in your head of where you’d like to go. Have a quick research of the ‘best green holidays in [your destination]’ online and see what pops up. Check out, and for ideas.

If you’re not sure where to look, Costa Rica is one of the top choices for ecotourism holidays. Kerala, in Southern India has unique houseboats and homestays available, Australia is positively brimming with excellent eco-friendly holiday rentals, and Europe is practically drowning in sustainable holiday options.

~ Choose your accommodation wisely

Just because a property says it’s eco-friendly, doesn’t mean it is. There are many accommodation owners who will use the ‘eco’ label because it is de rigueur, but their practices may be far from green. Look out for official eco accreditation. Unfortunately, there still isn’t a worldwide accreditation label – a few different companies exist according to region or country. The good news is that Green Key is working hard to make sustainability and environmental responsibility standard across the tourism industry by awarding Green Key certification to any business who fulfills their criteria. High standards are expected for the Green Key award are checks are rigorous so you know if you see this certification you’re on to a good bet.

If you can’t see anything about the companies’ green ideals, check their website information carefully, or, better still, contact the owner and ask them about their eco credentials directly.

ca l'andreu tiana catalonia

~ Learn how to pack light

It’s easy to get excited when you’re heading off on holiday, but it pays to pack light. The less you carry, the less fuel is needed to carry it; therefore less carbon is emitted into the atmosphere… if you fly. It also saves money on extra charges for baggage and helps you avoid undue stress on your body – the last thing you need is a strained back from lifting heavy baggage.

A good tip on how to pack light is to lay everything you want to pack on the bed. Go through it once and cull what you don’t need, then do the first pack. Most people will end up trying to squeeze things into their bag. Now unpack everything and do the second cull. Use packing cells to make it even easier. They’re often sold in packs of three. Use one for your clothes, one for underwear and one for toiletries. When you get used to packing with cells you’ll know exactly what fits in to each one and the next time you pack will be even quicker.

For more tips on packing light, check out our How to Pack Light series.

~ Be a responsible guest

If you take measures to look after the environment in your own home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same when on holiday. Sure, someone else may pay the utility bill, but your actions still have an effect on the environment. Limit energy usage by only using the air con and heating when you need it. Conserve water where you can, don’t leave the lights on, reuse, recycle and compost food if there is the facility available.

~ Educate yourself

Learn about the destination, and really immerse yourself in the place. Don’t spend time wondering where the pubs are showing football, or searching for the restaurants selling sausage and chips. You’re on holiday – go see the sights, find out about the culture and heritage of the destination. Check out the architecture and find out what makes the city tick. Those are the reasons you travel in the first place, to discover something new.

rice fields bali

~ Be respectful

It is vitally important to always respect the local customs and culture, i.e. don’t walk around Muslim countries in a bikini top and hot-pants. Honestly, it happens. Try not to be too brash or intrusive when taking photos. Snap-happy travellers should ask before taking photographs of people; some don’t like to be photographed, while others will be hard to shake from the lens.

~ Shop local to give back

Wherever you stay, buying local produce, eating at local restaurants and buying gifts made by the local community all go to giving back. It ensures their culture survives and concurrently the identity of the destination. Remember to pack a light reusable bag everywhere you go – it will come in handy for going to the beach and grocery shopping.

~ Sign up for an eco tour

If you really want to go green when on holiday, then why not pull out all the stops and sign up for an eco tour, or two. Research what’s available near the green stay you’re thinking of booking – this may help you narrow down your accommodation search too – and either pre-book a trip before you go, or plan to add it to your itinerary.

~ Ditch the car

The best way to explore any destination is by walking. You can go at your own pace, investigate secret spots that are impossible to reach by car and really get to know the place. Bicycle share schemes, which are especially popular in Europe, are a great alternative for the fighting fit traveller, and if you do need to hire a car, check out the share car hire companies.

~ Offset your emissions

A few years ago, offsetting your carbon emissions was big news. Everyone was doing it, until they heard some dodgy companies were using the money for other things rather than putting the money towards funding sustainable energy projects. It’s a shame, because offsetting your emissions really does make a difference if you choose the right company to go through. Climate Friendly runs some amazing projects worldwide as part of their offset program, including some Australian-based projects, and offers 5% of all sales to WWF. Check out Climate Care and Carbon Footprint to read about other offsetting options.

No matter where you choose to go for your green holiday, rest assured you’re making the right choice for the environment, which means you can relax and enjoy your holiday with a clear conscience.

book green holiday

sustainable tourism italy

The heart of sustainable tourism in Italy

At last I’ve found the Italy holiday experience I’ve been looking for since before I first travelled to Europe. When I first read about the Italian setup of ‘Agriturismos’ I imagined experiencing an idyllic Italian farm with olive groves and a big kitchen where people gather to cook and eat and drink. A place to be close to the land and people, delving into the cultural traditions of a region.

I have enjoyed the agriturismos we have stayed at in other parts of Italy but they were all simply B&Bs (or airBnBs before airBnB was invented) set in the Italian countryside. Absolutely lovely but not what I had in mind. But at last I’ve found it.

Here in the Marche region of Italy, Roberto Feretti has created a sustainable tourism dream. Where he shares the riches of this stunning hidden gem of Italian countryside and has evolved a ‘tourism of relationship’ at La Scentella, a place where nature, food and friendship blend to create an experience that awakens the senses.

agritourismo Le Marche Italy

La Scentella agritourismo B&B in Le Marche Italy

This golden-stoned farmhouse nestled on a hillside beneath the charming village of Petritoli, is in the Val d’Aso, nicknamed the garden of the Le Marche region of Italy. The Val d’Aso has no fewer than 23 such villages, each a picture postcard in its own right.

Roberto and other accommodation providers in the valley work together to promote their dream of sustainable tourism, where people from different backgrounds can come together and experience the joy of nature and the country table in an atmosphere of friendship.

From field to fork in Le Marche, Italy

Of course, the kitchen is the heart of La Scentella and Roberto’s is a cosy, working kitchen, with a fireplace and bookshelves and a long table that welcomes all. The focus is on making dishes with local, seasonal ingredients. Farm to table cooking that celebrates local fare.

Within an hour of arriving at La Scentella, my daughter was mixing up an apple and walnut cake in the kitchen and we later partook of a delicious meal of minestrone and chicken prepared by Roberto. We were also introduced to Vino Cotta (cooked wine), made from grapes pressed by foot under the boughs of the cherry orchard here on the farm and then cooked in a cauldron over an open fire and stored in a wooden wine barrel in the kitchen.

This winter I travelled through California’s Central Valley, perhaps one of the most famous fruit and vegetable growing areas in the world. Mono-crops as far as the eye can see. Beneath the trees and between the rows, not a weed or a blade of grass to harbour insects that may sully the produce and reduce the profit.

Le Marche Italy

Goats at the cheesemaker in Val d’Aso Le Marche region Italy

The Val d’Aso is the complete opposite. Everywhere you look is a riot of natural growth. Every little farm grows a myriad of vegetables and fruit. We visited Eric the local cheesemaker, and his goats and cows, who make 25 different types of cheese. And that says everything you need to know about the Garden of Le Marche. It’s a garden of diversity.

There’s an open invitation to forage for all sorts of edible things here. Gather citrus in the spring, or grapes, pomegranates, persimmons, olives and walnuts in the autumn. It was Roberto’s especial passion to engage us in the discovering the wonders of foraging for wild herbs and greens in the farmhouse garden. One day we went on a walk in the mountains with the local truffle hunter and his dog, bringing back the white gold to grate over the pasta we had made at the kitchen table.

Hospitality with heart

Just as the valley lives and breathes biodiversity, Roberto and his friends celebrate cultural diversity as we sit at the table with fellow guests, sharing lives and stories as we share delicious food. In front of the farmhouse are set rustic tables for al fresco dining, with views over the cherry orchard. Or spend some time reading a book in the deep spreading shade of the mulberry tree.

le marche italy

Le Marche countryside Italy

We visited the extraordinary nearby cities of Fermo and Ascoli Piceno to get our fix of elegant piazzas and historical sites. We ate fresh-off-the-boat seafood out of paper cones on the seaside Riviera de la Palme, where ice cream coloured hotels line the coast. This area is rich in sights, sounds and tastes.

If you’re looking for an environmentally sustainable place to holiday, this is it. Whether you want an educational culinary break or simply more mindful eating, a cultural experience or complete relaxation in the countryside. It’s not commercial, it’s not a transaction. I’d hardly even call it tourism. Meet Roberto and discover his world.

~ By Natasha von Geldern

Travel details for La Scentella and Le Marche

We travelled by train from London to the Marche region, including the overnight sleeper train from Paris to Milan or Verona. This service has recently been refurbished and will hopefully be just part of the ongoing renaissance of overnight trains in Europe. A regional train carried us to the city of Ancona. Or you can fly direct to Ancona or Bologna if you are short on time.

From Ancona you can either hire a small car or get a train one hour to Pedaso. Roberto often meets guests at Pedaso and we didn’t really need the car during the week as he took us out and about or we were relaxing (and eating) at the farmhouse. But If you want to be more independent that’s fine too.

Lead image: Village of Petritoli Val d’Aso Le Marche Italy. Photo by Bruce Nixon.

boden ethical clothing

11 ethical clothing brands giving fast fashion the flick

It’s easy to do when you’re clothes shopping. You see the ideal outfit, you know it would suit you perfectly, and – bonus – it’s cheap as chips. But when you stop to think for a moment you realise if it’s ridiculously cheap for you to buy, the person making the garment must be getting paid peanuts. The excitement of the buy wears off when you put some thought into the ethics behind the clothes.

We now know that fast fashion is one of the most destructive industries on earth, filling our landfills with masses of garments born of unethical working conditions.

Here are some quick facts:

Thankfully, as our knowledge of fast fashion has increased so too has the emergence of new sustainable fashion brands keen to change the way our clothes are made. And the USA is paving the way, producing ethical clothing brands to suit men and women of all tastes and budgets. Here’s a breakdown of our favourite brands to get behind.
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simple living

Simple living: how to simplify your life in 8 easy steps

It’s so easy to get carried away with the business of life. When you’re not at work or rushing from one appointment to another, you may be ferrying the kids to and from school, then after school activities, and maybe have a gym (or wine) session somewhere in between. It’s often hard to find time for yourself or your home. Simple living is something you’ve heard of the fairy tale lives of others.

If that all sounds very familiar to you, it’s time to take stock, slow down and simplify your life.

Of course, it’s not always easy to change down a few gears on command. When you’re living life at a billion miles an hour the very idea of leading a more simple life – while tempting – just seems so unattainable.

Here we share a few pointers to help you on your way to a more relaxed pace of living.
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A sprawling green roof is the heart of this forest home, built by mf+aquitetos

Designed by a Brazilian firm mf+ arquitetos, Casa Spain is a stunning forest retreat that blends natural environmental design with a modern aesthetic to create a spacious family holiday home.

Located in Calas de Guisando, near Madrid, the brief for this 1,980sqm house was to be open, light, organic and welcoming. The owners wanted it to blend in with the natural habitat as subtly as possible. Surrounded by tall pines and greenery, Casa Spain is secluded with a peaceful ambience – perfect for families looking to leave the hustle and bustle of the urban life behind.
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off-grid hotel

Tubakuba :: An Off-Grid Mountain Hotel in Norway

Originally published July 2016; updated March 2019.

Perched on the edge of a mountain outside Bergen, Norway is a log cabin like no other. Far from the classic appearance of a mountain cabin, this unique eco retreat is a 14-metre-square cube made from recycled wood remnants. It also happens to be Norway’s only off-grid hotel.

Created by students from the Bergen School of Architecture at a design-and-build workshop, Tubakuba is the student’s solution to getting more children into the wild Norwegian woods. Led by architect Espen Folgerø, the workshop encouraged students to get hands on experience on what works and what doesn’t in sustainable architecture when put into practice. In this case, the students built a scale model of the structure at the school of architecture and then recreated it onsite.

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rebranding my blog

Why I’m Rebranding My Blog and Tips on How You Can Do it Too

If you’ve come here looking for Eco Traveller Guide, don’t worry, you’re in the right place. We’ve just had a change of name. Read on to find out why.

When I started Eco Traveller way back in 2011, I was certain what direction the blog would take. There would be destination guides, gear guides, and maybe a print magazine at some point. I had so many plans.

I’d been writing about eco travel for other websites for years before I started Eco Traveller Guide. In fact, as of 2019, I’ve been writing about ecotourism for 12 years. Can’t believe it’s been that long. And I still love writing about the subject and maintain the same passion I’ve always had. But I’ve been keen to change direction of the blog for a long time. I’ve just had to find the courage to do it.

I tell ya, it’s not been an easy decision. Hells no.
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Cerro Concepcion Valparaiso

A Day in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Valparaiso, Chile

Coming from the sea, Valparaiso looks strewn with candy. Colors dance like forgotten rainbows across the 42 cerros (hills) that face the bay and that give this UNESCO World Heritage Site its charm.

At its front are the whirring cranes and colossal ships that speak to its importance as a working port, while rising steeply behind them are the mishmash of crumbling colonial buildings that are evidence of its tangled past.

It’s a stark difference to the orderly buzz that dominates Chile’s capital of Santiago. I have made the journey east to experience its famous quirk for myself and to meet the Valparaiso locals (known as porteños), who remain closely connected to both sea and the hills. Read More

Explore Hobart Five Ways :: A Mini Travel Guide

Tasmania used to be the brunt of many jokes by their fellow mainlanders, but now it’s Tasmanians who are having the last laugh. This small island state lying off the tail end of Australia is turning out to be quite the getaway. And Hobart, the capital, is stealing the show.

Sitting pretty at the foot of Mount Wellington on the Derwent River, Hobart is Australia’s most southerly capital. Once a quiet backwater, this creative capital came into its own when MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) gallery opened in 2010. Intrigued interstaters who came to investigate discovered Hobart’s thriving arts scene, along with a blossoming food and wine industry showcasing the state’s local produce.

There is a good range of accommodation in Hobart to suit all budgets and tastes, from luxury art hotels to budget hostels. The most recent artsy addition is Ibis Styles Hobart, which is set to receive a five-star Green Building Council of Australia certification for sustainability.

Getting around the city centre is fairly easy, but it’s a sprawling city so it’s a good idea to venture further than the main centre to see it all. This month, I’ve teamed up with AccorHotels to bring you 5 different ways to explore Hobart that will allow you to get a real feel for the place.

By Bike

under Down under tours

Photo credit :: Under Down Under Tours

Considering Hobart is known for its thriving arts scene, it would seem fitting to start off your tour of the city with Artbikes. Available five days a week from Rosny Barn on Hobart’s eastern shores, Artbikes allows art lovers to easily access the myriad cultural attractions in the city. Their Dutch-style bikes are designed by Vanmoof and come with a helmet, lock and cultural map.
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