Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing socio-economic sectors of our times and has created disastrous waste issues. 50 years after the International Tourist Year in 1967 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism as a way to raise awareness about this sector.
- 1. What are the positive and negative impacts of tourism?
- 2. How big are the benefits and who is benefiting?
- 3. Are there relevant sustainable alternatives?
- Enthusiasts see in the development of new trends like eco, slow or rural tourism an opportunity to generate positive impact. And they are right! Nevertheless, those emerging good practices are still a niche market. What about more mainstreamed form of tourism ? Deeply rooted and harmful attitudes can evolve and missing infrastructures can be developed, so that this linear and business-as-usual sector can go through a real change.
- We think that waste issues are a perfect starting point to help this industry transition to more social and ecological practices. After many interviews and readings, we’ve come to identify 4 main challenges that we wish to address during our 2018 citizen and entrepreneurial mobilisation campaign, named Wasteless Journeys. Do you want to join and contribute to this new campaign? Look for our 10 call-to-actions.
Four challenges :
1/ Trigger behavioural change
What drives people into travelling? Garbologist Rudy Guilhem-Ducléon also asked himself this question, and listed some answers. His grid shows that each motivational aspects of travelling can have both positive and negative outputs, depending on the information and options that are available for tourists.
- Willing to diminish their impact while making the most out of traveling opportunities, many professionals and activist believe in the potential of nudges or “coup de pouce” in French. Nudging, a better understanding of user experiences, can help design solutions to make people act in a better way at specific moments. By doing and sharing A/B testing on tourists, we might develop a better understanding of what drives them into adopting better attitudes.
- Here is an example from Green Nudges : “Researchers carried out a pilot experiment on waste recycling in the town of LaVerne in California. Every day for four weeks, a note was placed on the door of 120 homes informing the occupants of the number of their neighbours who participated in domestic waste recycling and the quantity of recycled material that it represented. The impact was immediate: the volume of recycled materials increased by 19%. Furthermore, the improvement effect lasted for four weeks after the project stopped, although the action of placing notes on doors had already found its end. The strength of this strategy lays in providing informational feedback on the neighbourhood’s behaviour , and thus on the social norm applicable in the district. An interesting fact is that the figures mentioned on the printed note were handwritten, thus emphasising the human factor, which is crucial in this type of initiative.”
Every day for four weeks, a note was placed on the door of 120 homes informing the occupants of the number of their neighbours who participated in domestic waste recycling and the quantity of recycled material that it represented. The impact was immediate: the volume of recycled materials increased by 19%.
2/ Bring more awareness
The way of travel varies from travellers to travellers. But one common feature which is interesting to highlight, is how people who share an affectionate link with their environment, such as an outdoor activity or growing up by the seaside, are often active protector of the environment. Take the examples of Surfriders and Mountains riders : those who love the contact with beauty and wilderness create environmental movements, such as beach or mountains clean ups. The same can be seen in urban areas, Mudano who performed graffiti or Leo not Happy who practiced breakdance – took action to achieve cleaner streets. Both triggered citizen movements to join them., Their strong awareness, led them to take the hardest step, the first step.
As strange as it may seem, some other people can enjoy snorkeling and eat fishs every day without questioning its origin, and more generally how their diet impacts others. Sometimes awareness is not natural, and individuals need a push. This is all the more true, since mass tourism can jeopardize ecosystems, that will in turn threaten the economy. Sustainable tourism isn’t only about preserving the environment, it is also about preserving one’s resources and its ability to work in the long run. An illustration of a creative and efficient awareness act, can be found in Palau. The paradise island was seeing its scarce resource and its biodiversity threatened by overfishing and mass consumption. To sensitize foreigners, the island community has changed its immigration law to protect the environment, and introduced a unique “passport pledge” that visitors must sign before entering the country.
- Building awareness is a strong tool to more sustainable tourism. Because sharing is caring, and caring is sharing.
- On this note… Check out this video from coursera and register to their mooc starting on March 26
Sustainable tourism isn’t only about preserving the environment, it is also about preserving one’s resources and its ability to work in the long run. An illustration of a creative and efficient awareness act, can be found in Palau.
3/ Develop adequate infrastructures
A major issue with the tourism industry relates to the diversity of waste types to be dealt with. You will find paper, cardboard, food scraps, plastic, wood, carpets, furnitures (and sometimes unusual objects such as lost caps, single flip flop, broken bikes or forgotten keys…). To make things easier, those waste will be scattered all along the tourist path, which make them even more difficult to collect.
- The strong seasonality and geographic dispersion make it sometimes difficult to provide adequate infrastructures. How do you operate and sustain waste management processes and facilities all year round when most of the volume is concentrated in one month? Agility! From entrepreneurs to multinationals, many actors understand the need to adapt the infrastructures to the waste source. To avoid cigarette stub at the beaches, many solutions have emerged to better collect and recycle them (SUEZ for example, works with TerraCycle on this subject).
- How to plan a service when users don’t know or understand how local policies work? : in Paris for instance, there are so many Airbnb in the second arrondissement that the local organic waste collection is struggling to get sufficient volumes since the many Airbnb guests do not separate their waste.
How do you operate and sustain waste management processes and facilities all year round when most of the volume is concentrated in one month? Agility!
- But what to do when there are not a single existing infrastructures to deal with the waste problems generated by tourism ?! In “developing countries”, there is often a lack of waste collection and recycling facilities. But that also applies so called “developed countries” and high standing resorts which often fail to go further (or even do worse) that what reglementation demand. Even if good practices and examples of partnerships to redistribute furnitures or meals are many and replicable, the lack of knowledge, networks and financial incentives make it hard for these practices to spread.
- Sometimes politicians have other priorities and put the waste issues in the bottom area of their very long to do list. Tourists or local population, mountain-lover or beach-lover, members of civil society, all have a right to communicate to local governments and share their preoccupations, in order to encourage public services to provide solutions.
4/ Make environmental-friendly actions truthful and accessible
As sustainable development has become a big trend, many players try to attract consumers with eco-friendly allegations that somehow miss the point. Tourists need to be equipped to fulfil their will to start their Wasteless Journey, in term of information – where to look, what is sustainable- and in term of accessible and user friendly tools. As it is important to understand the whole lifecycle of an object to understand its ecological footprint, individuals and corporation should consider taking into account the whole tourists journeys and their impacts to take relevant actions.
- Let’s take the eco-cup example: today many festivals boast of using them but sometimes miss the point because they put a yearly design on the cup, or fail to implement an appropriate cup return system. As a consequence, many cups remain uncollected or not reusable the next year. A shame since, according to ADEME, the environmental footprint of an eco-cup is only better than discardable ones when used at least 7 times. Pro-active solutions such as apps like Fairtrip or alternative guides, try to take us out of the gringo trails, to generate genuine encounters far from the overcrowded postcards spots. Helping tourists to eat local and seasonal make the trip more enriching both them and the locals and might have positive environmental impacts : it often comes unpackaged !
Tourists need to be equipped to fulfil their will to start their Wasteless Journey, in term of information – where to look, what is sustainable- and in term of accessible and user friendly tools.. As it is important to understand the whole lifecycle of an object to understand its ecological footprint, individuals and corporation should consider taking into account the whole tourists journeys and their impacts to take relevant actions.
10 actions you can take with Wasteless Journeys !
From your coach :
Join our online community to meet with other engaged citizens and entrepreneurs
- 2. Learn with us on our blog or become a skyrocketing author yourself clicking here
- 3. Share this article – awareness raising starts with a click !
- 4. Alert and sensitize local authorities and companies on waste issues, by signing pledge or localizing sites with trash for example.
- 5. Report on your wasted holidays on twitter: #wastelessjourneys
- On the ground :
- 6. Walk the talk like Luizzati and learn to travel zero waste
- 7. Participate in our conferences and events (like our fanpage to be always up to date)
- 8. Organize a wasteless event or festival by following some of our numerous trainings (check our calendar)
- 9. Become an ambassador for this Wasteless Journey topic by following our collaborative Mooc tour Summer Bootcamp in southern France
- 10. Create your own circular business during the Sensefiction day on May 26th
Wasteless Journeys is a global Future of Waste campaign launched by MakeSense with the active support of SUEZ.