It’s Time to Become a More Responsible Vacationer
Now that we’re all wonderfully woke, let’s get to work (and being on vacation is no excuse)
In recent weeks, there’s been an outpouring of frustration among Pinoys desperately calling for change. The truth is we have all been living in filth. This reality, however, was always conveniently cushioned by a way of life we not only subscribe to, but practically embrace. It’s a little something called “out of sight, out of mind” and it’s kept us comfortable, unknowingly culpable for too long.
With no sense of—or rather, care for—where our waste goes after it leaves our hands or is sent away from our homes, we as a nation (#PinoyPride, right?) claimed the spot for the world’s third worst contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans in both 2015 and 2017. Will this be our standing in 2018, too? That is yet to be seen, but what can be observed is that reality is finally catching up to us and fast. This isn’t manifesting itself in just our cities; it’s now claiming parts of the world we consider pieces of paradise… behaving more like karma, if anything.
The unfortunate fate of Mt. Pulag, the remorse following news of Boracay’s rehabilitation, the volume of trash that comes with the volume of tourists in Siargao: The Filipino is slowly waking up, eyes jolted wide open to see that we are all connected—by the same seas, the same air—and what goes around truly does come back around.
Now wide awake, vendors at a local palengke in Negros Occidental have gone plastic-free, stripping things back to basics and using leaves to pack away wet goods. In Manila, establishments are setting their own earth-saving initiatives in motion. Black Market, Finders Keepers and XX XX, for example, have banned plastic straws calling this #TheLastStraw. Then there’s this regular shopper who makes it a point to bring her own Tupperware to the supermarket, imploring others in her town to #RefuseSingleUsePlastic, #BanTheBag, #SkipTheStraw, #Take3ForTheSea and #JoinTheMovement for a plastic-free Ilocos.
Slowly but surely, change is happening. Be it at the level of local government, that of a private sector or a single person’s undertaking. What matters is we not only let these initiatives and catchy hashtags before us strike us, but get us moving, too. While it’s tempting to put a pin on this and get in vacation mode first, know that now is the best time to be part of the change. The last thing you want to do is become one of the vacationers you yourself criticize for ruining paradise.
The more weight public transportation vehicles carry, the more fuel they end up using. This ultimately leads to more greenhouse gas emissions. Packing light, then, does not only make the commute more convenient, but also good for the earth.
Switch to coral reef-friendly sunscreen.
These products are often marketed as “coral-saving” or good for the environment. In reality, however, they are only the lesser evil i.e. they do less harm to our coral reef. Still, small tweaks in vacationing habits like this can help loads in the long-run.
MAGWAI Reef-Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+, P599
Add a foldable waterproof tote to your carry-on bag.
What you think about, you bring about: If you make a deliberate decision to refuse single-use plastic (and prepare for it accordingly), you will eliminate opportunities where you will need them. Tuck a foldable tote bag into the side pocket of each of your purses in your wardrobe to jump-start this. It is called a force of habit for a reason.
While you’re at it, pack a reusable tumbler.
Just like plastic bags, single-use beverage containers such as plastic bottles are a culprit. Ask for house water (and water to go for your new trusty tumbler) at restaurants, food stands and other establishments while on vacation. That’s one less plastic bottle to dispose of. You get to save money, too.
ALADDIN 30oz Vacuum Tumbler with Straw, P1,170
SLIQUE 600ml Vacuum Tumbler in Coral, P579
Skip the straw.
Eating out? Give your server a heads-up that you and your party would like to go strawless on your restaurant visit. Now this one won’t cost you anything.
When dining al fresco, bus out yourself.
Yes, you are on vacation. Yes, busboys are likely available and paid to do this. A responsible vacationer, however, should not risk having food wrappers and other waste flying around after their meal. Make it a point to bus out should your meal conveniently come with a tray. Tidying up and alerting the busboy before leaving is another way to ensure you don’t unintentionally litter.
Support local businesses.
Part of responsible travel is being mindful about where your money goes. Local communities often have to give way to big companies coming in and trying to get a piece of the action (case in point: McDonald’s smack-dab in the middle of Boracay). Make every purchase, meal and pasalubong count by supporting the livelihood of locals wherever your vacation takes you. Saving paradise means saving these communities, too.
Last but certainly not the least, there’s this adage: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.
Art Alexandra Lara