Note: This is the last part of my series of Consuming Consciously.
Water. One of the most important resources we have in this world, yet we tend to take it for granted. For us who lives in the west, water is available almost everywhere. We either get it at home, straight from the tap, or we can buy it bottled. So when we travel, we instantly assume that things look the same everywhere in the world. But it doesn’t.
Most of us northern Europeans tend to escape to warmer countries when the darkness and cold is coming. We jet off to destinations like Spain, Greece, Thailand, Brazil, etc. Basically anywhere where the sun almost always shines. The problem is that we tend to visit places with water scarcity, yet we consume way more water there than we do at home. Why?
Water on holiday
We need water for almost everything. Flushing the toilet, taking showers, brushing our teeth, drinking it and the list just goes on and on. But when we’re traveling, we tend to consume more because we might take longer showers (we are, after all, on HOLIDAY!), swim in swimming pools, go to the golf course, hit the beach and take another shower. We might not see it as such, but access to clean water is a luxury in certain countries. Luxury hotels tend to use up a ton of water for their guests and this is a huge problem. In Zanzibar for example, the estimated daily domestic water consumption of local people on the island of Zanzibar is just 30 litres per day. Luxury resorts in Zanzibar use far more than that. It’s estimated that they use up to 2,000 litres of water per tourist per day. I think you guys can see the problem here.
What can I do?
- Don’t go to any golf courses. They are known for having a negative impact on the environment because of how much water is being used and for the chemicals. Not only does it hurt the humans, the pesticides, fungicides and artificial colouring agents also poisons the soil and fauna. Moreover, hotels, resorts and golf courses often divert water, energy, land and access to biodiversity away from poor communities, thus making it more difficult for rural women and young girls to obtain water and fuel for household use. Fulfilling such basic needs clashes with schooling in many poor communities.
- Skip the pool and go to the beach! I mean, how often have you not had pools right next to the beach? It really baffles me. Yes, I get that you sometimes don’t want to get sandy, but really? I would take the beach anytime of the day.
- Try to take shorter and less showers. This might be a bit difficult since we’re a bit nasty when we travel (all that sweat from either the sun or walking), but is there really a need to take 3 showers per day? And they all last for 20 minutes? No.
- Support local businesses and skip the luxury resort (at least from time to time). Go to a small B&B, live with a host family and learn about their culture. It really is the best thing you can do to travel in a sustainable way, by giving back to the community, learning about country and consume consciously.