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Due to an initiative passed by Alaska’s citizens, cruise ships in Alaska must meet water effluent standards equal to high-level municipal waste water treatment. Cruise ships must also meet opacity standards at the top of their smoke stacks. And once the ships enter Alaskan waters, an ocean ranger travels onboard to ensure compliance with regulations and correct operation of its wastewater treatment system.
Nowhere else in the world do cruise ships come under this level of scrutiny. Not surprisingly, these regulations aren’t terribly popular with cruise operators. Why would they? After all, the companies are accustomed to operating in third world countries with powerless populations and lax environmental oversight. They are used to doing what they want.
Not in Alaska. In a state with 6640 miles of coastline, ocean health is paramount to the longevity of fishing and tourism industries. Careful regulation is the only sure way to preserve natural resources. Alaskans know this better than most. If any good may have come from the disastrous wake of the Exxon Valdez, it may be the public’s fierce defense of natural beauty when threatened by corporate greed.
In the simplest terms, ecotourism is responsible travel that helps preserve the environment and improve the lives of local inhabitants. And while vacationing at home may leave the smallest ecological footprint, one can argue that exploring the planet enriches not only our own lives, but the lives of those we visit. If we can manage to do it without undo harm to the environment, then it’s an opportunity to see the world – and ourselves – in the best possible light.
The end of today’s adventure is 9 clicks down the road.
There’s a great big world out there just waiting to be explored… problem is, in most cases, you’re going to be generating a lot of carbon dioxide just to get where you’re going. Over they past couple of years several companies have begun offering “carbon credits” or “carbon offsets” to compensate for the damaging effects of jet travel – but which ones are legit? And how do you know which one to choose? This should help (nrdc.org).
Mention the word Japan and most westerners conjure up images of flashing neon signs and people being stuffed into subway cars. But if you’re interested in discovering more than bright lights and big cities, One Life Japan offers active and educational journeys designed to give participants an intimate look into Japanese country life. This innovative tour company helps visitors focuses on slow food and slow living, and provides a better understanding of how this complex society has learned to balance human needs and natural eco-systems.
Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) promotes awareness of ecological farming practices by “providing volunteers (WWOOFers) with the opportunity to live and learn on organic properties” around the world.
WWOOFers live with families and get first-hand experience with “organic and sustainable practices including earth building, cooking and preserving, wine, cheese and bread making, crafts, companion planting, worm farming, composting and a whole lot more.”
We don’t mean to get on your case, but chances are you could be using more eco-friendly luggage. Introducing the EcoCase - made from 100% recycled plastic. By utilizing recycled materials to create stylish and functional new baggage, HeyUSA repurposes plastic that would have otherwise taken a one-way trip to a landfill.
The Eco-Trails Houseboats that cruise the waterways of Kerala in Southern India are powered by inboard diesel engines and use solar energy for power requirements. The journey is a window into the culture of local villages that have existed in Kerala’s backwaters for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Tenuta di Spannocchia offers week-long vacation rentals in rustic farmhouses and nightly stays in a bed and breakfast that also houses Spannocchia Foundation education and enrichment program groups. The foundation’s mission is to encourage global dialogue about sustaining cultural landscapes for future generations through natural resource conservation, local ecology, sustainable agriculture and forestry, cultural history, traditional land management practices, and farm-based education.
Most people vacation to relax. Some to rejuvenate. But a few go to reforest. Reforestation projects are just one of the many “volunteer vacation” choices available to travelers who don’t just want to soak up the local color, but actually help replenish it. From collecting seeds in a Costa Rican “forest in the clouds” to planting saplings in Guatemala, explore your options at charityguide.org.
EcoCamp in Torres del Paine National Park, invites you to “explore Pagtagonia with the least ecological impact possible; to trek in virgin beech forests; to admire colossal calving glaciers; to think and wonder about humankind while standing at the foot of the towering granite peaks of the Torres del Paine; to sit in total silence under the Southern Cross; and to share a glass of wine with new friends.” EcoCamp’s domes are modeled on an ancient design, built to survive stress caused by Patagonia’s winds (often surpassing 180 km per hour).
Pennsylvania’s Woodloch Pines Resort was honored by the Global Renewable Energy Expo Networking Summit April 16, 2009 for demonstrating ingenuity, creativity and perseverance in the pursuit of pioneering green goals. Their “Green Team” meets regularly to implement eco-friendly solutions for the resort. Here is just some of what they offer:
• Environmental programs for class trips, corporate groups & scouting programs.
• Use of bio-degradable disposable plates, flatware, cups and to-go containers.
• Energy-Saver faucets and shower heads as well as faucets with infrared sensors to limit water waste.
• Energy saving compact fluorescent lighting
• Tree replacement program through their landscaping department.
• Use of recycled paper whenever possible for promotional materials.
• Recycling of economy-sized cans and packaging in their kitchens.
• Installation of an energy management system, which controls the air conditioning/heating and lighting of public areas through the use of infrared sensors.
• Co-mingled recycling bins throughout the grounds of the resort for guest and employee use.
• Bat Boxes throughout the resort – a natural way to control insects