I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Marissa Sutera of Little Things Travel Blog to talk about the #littleBIGthings you can do to make a positive impact when you travel. Read some of my thoughts in our conversation:
If you’ve spent any time looking into sustainable travel and being more conscious of your impact on all aspects of the local community while traveling, it has likely ignited even more questions. In this #littleBIGthings interview, Kelley Louise, Executive Director of Travel+SocialGood, is sharing her insight on many of those questions and what to look for to be a more sustainable traveler. Travel+SocialGood strives to embed sustainability into travel rather than it being an afterthought, and that’s a mission I can stand behind.
1. What are some little things travelers can do to leave a positive impact on the places and communities they visit?
The first, most important (and easy!) step is to educate yourself on the impact of your dollar. On average, if you spend $100 while traveling, less than $10 of that goes back into the local community (due to a phenomenon called tourism leakage).
You can make small changes like booking with companies that have transparent pricing (Urban Adventures does a great job of showcasing how your tour supports locals), supporting companies with innovative community-support models (World Nomads has a great microdonation program), or supporting companies that are invested in continuous improvement (Barry Sternlicht of 1 Hotels consistently ascertains that they are constantly refining their strategy to do better).
I always say that this mindset starts when you’re at home, so start implementing these changes into your day-to-day now. For example, I make a point to use B Corp cleaning products, I invest in clothes that I know are made ethically, and I shop at stores that I know have responsible business models. There are about a million little things you can do that make a big impact, and I would challenge anyone reading this to pick one small change they can make today.
2. How can travelers find authentic eco-friendly companies in the tourism industry?
The great news is that there are so many innovative brands (both big and small) that are doing incredible things within this space. Again, the first step is to educate yourself on best-practices so you know you’re supporting businesses that are actually making a positive impact (read more about greenwashing here). Read labels or website descriptions, ask questions, and use your dollar to vote on the brands you truly believe in.
I also want to point out that while the environment is absolutely a key component of responsible tourism, it is just one part of how we can positively impact our world. I believe the future of the industry lies in sustainable tourism — which, in its simplest terms, is positively impacting the environment, community and economy. The easiest way to remember this is to consider supporting businesses with a triple bottom line model — businesses should take into account people, planet and profit.
3. Can you share a story or two of how Travel+SocialGood has made an impact that really moved you?
Everyone at TSG is a volunteer, and I am constantly floored by the dedication of our team. We have an incredibly diverse group of individuals around the world who believe in our mission, and the impact we achieve would not be possible without their support. It is not easy to invest your time, energy and resources into a passion project, no matter what, and I know that it can be especially challenging when you are a pioneer. I am deeply moved by the passion of our team. For me, one of the most humbling experiences is when someone discovers the TSG community tells me that they’ve found their home, their tribe, through TSG. Our community and our team is what gives me the strength and faith to continue on this path.
This post is an excerpt. Read the full article, Propelling the Travel Industry Toward Sustainability.