Consuming Consciously: Alcohol

Consuming Consciously: Alcohol

Note: This is the first part of my series of Consuming Consciously.

It’s a known fact that we tend to consume more alcohol when we’re abroad. Actually, we tend to consume more of everything when traveling. It’s this mindset of “we’re on vacation so let’s spoil ourselves” that makes us do so. But what exactly is the problem with alcohol when we’re on vacation? And what does it have to do with sustainability?

Tourists create a demand

The alcohol consumption in a country can be driven up due to travellers own consumption. An increased demand in alcohol also creates accessibility for the locals. Although tourism may not solely be the reason why locals drink alcohol, it still plays a huge part.

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Drinking in Sri Lanka

Westerners alcoholic habits can be transferred to locals

This was one of the most interesting revelations I had while sitting in a lecture; that locals tend to look at how we behave and copy our behaviour. But thing is, we usually act differently when we’re abroad. But they don’t know that. They see us consuming loads of alcohol, to the brink that we can’t even stand on our own feet, and they assume that this is something “normal”, that this is how we act at home too. And if we normalise it, why shouldn’t they? In addition, younger locals who work in the tourism industry runs a higher risk of developing unhealthy alcoholic habits.

It’s worrying that our habits abroad can be transferred to locals, since we aren’t known for having healthy alcoholic habits when we’re traveling.

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One of many nights drinking wine in Portugal

But interestingly enough, I have to say that Lisbon did the same to me. I didn’t drink a lot until I moved there. The alcohol culture is quite different than Sweden. I wasn’t used to drinking on weekdays, or even after work, but since this is quite common in Portugal, I started to develop these alcohol habits. Even though I’m not a huge fan of alcohol, I started drinking at least one glass of wine per day because it was the social thing to do with friends and because it was cheap. So – it can go both ways! It all depends on the country you go to I suppose and the host’s culture. I don’t blame the Portuguese for this though, I fell for the alcohol trap.

Alcohol is an obstacle to development

Alcohol is a major obstacle to sustainable human development. Every year, alcohol kills 3.3 million people worldwide. Alcohol is also an obstacle to achieving 13 out of the 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals) and it also has adverse effects on people’s economic status. It literally pushes people into poverty.

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Drinks, drinks and… drinks!

Alcohol provides a jumping point for sex tourism

This should come as no surprise as most of the “hot spots” for sex tourism occurs in nightclubs or bars, where you also drink alcohol. Drug use, the spreading of HIV and other STDs, violence, and so forth are just a few more examples of the downsides of alcohol. You’re probably thinking “I’ve never engaged in any of those things”, but truth be told, all consumption contributes to its existence.

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Phuket, Thailand. A great example of where sex tourism takes place

Alcohol can be associated with predatory behaviour

It’s been brought to attention that in some European mass tourist resorts, alcoholic consumption and hedonism has been associated with predatory behaviour, leading to a number of young females being raped. It’s a terribly sensitive subject and I don’t think you should blame it all on alcohol, but do I think it can be a contributor? Yes.

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Party street in Hong Kong, filled with mostly expats

Let’s be real, alcohol won’t be going away anytime soon and I’m not saying you should stop drinking entirely. But we should consume more consciously and responsibly, and educate ourselves about the effects alcohol has. It’s so important to educate people nowadays, because sometimes we forget that even the most “normal” thing such as drinking on vacation, can lead to deeper issues.

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