There are many things that we can do to lower the damage that we cause in our trips and that, in many cases we do them out of ignorance.
We can make changes little by little until they are part of our habit. These are some of them:
Preparing for the trip
1. Buy good quality items, especially if enough use will be made to avoid changing them often, thus reducing the amount of garbage that can be generated and this will also be an economic saving.
2. Always carry bags, either for the trash or to collect the rest of the things, this will prevent us from leaving something.
3. Take the cutlery, glasses and dishes from home (not glass, nor ceramic, they can be aluminum) yes, it is scary to lose them, you just do not have to leave them there and thus the use of plastic is reduced.
4. Reduce future trash, avoid carrying or buying things that have unnecessary packaging, something like a bag inside a bag
During the trip
5.Shared transportation: for the trip on their own, where they go between several (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors),
It is best to go in a single car or the necessary cars depending on the number of people, avoiding going 1 or 2 by car.
In this way, fuel is also shared and a little is saved for the next trip.
6.Avoid over-visited places: each place, by nature, has a maximum capacity of visitors, this is not controlled and that is why we see places where it seems that not one more person fits.
These places are quickly destroyed, which in some cases the locals have had to close them to the public, also due to the bad practices of the visitors.
In Panama there are many places to visit and perhaps we like them more than those that may be popular.
7.Use reusable water bottles, preferably non-plastic (if you already have it, use it until you have to discard it and on the next purchase, look for one that is friendly to the environment).
In Panama we have some of the best water in the world, it is not necessary to buy bottles with water.
The best is to fill a reusable one before leaving the house, the hotel or some establishment where we have access to the tap.
There are also filter bottles, they are excellent to fill in a river or waterfall that is not contaminated.
8.Using rechargeable batteries for devices such as lamps, so you avoid throwing away single-use batteries that contaminate a lot.
9.Campfire, the best would be to avoid them completely, but we can start with them being small, in permitted places, away from dry grass, trees, and not in the mountains.
I remember 2 campfires I was in, both made by very experienced organizations, one during a 2-day trekking trip, where the height of the trunks was higher than me, I am not small, it was impossible to get close without burning the retina.
And the other in Summit Park, in a family type camping, where the heat of the flames reached so high that it burned the branches of the trees (and the branches were very high).
These are things not to do.
10.Use biodegradable sunscreen: it is good for trips that involve water, such as rivers and beaches, so we avoid damaging the fauna.
Being in a forum months ago I learned of their importance, when some experts commented on what happened in the Galapagos Islands, when a part had to be closed, because the sunscreen was killing the corals.
I know it can be expensive, but it’s worth it.
11.Use soaps, detergents and other biodegradable items. It is rare, but it may be the case to make a trip of a couple of days, camping, where people want to take a good bath.
As Panamanians we like to be clean, but beware of the rivers since these products are not biodegradable, they are polluting.
12.Use natural repellents, they are cheaper and are not toxic.
Garlic is very good for … vampires !, no, well I don’t know, but yes for snakes and mosquitoes.
Clove tea (boil for 45 minutes) or eucalyptus is good against mosquitoes, also eucalyptus oil. Surely there are many more.
13.Do not pour anything into rivers and beaches. In many trips we carry cans of prickly pear, they come with water or oil and many do not use these liquids, it might not go well with bread, cookies or what you are going to eat.
What to do? It is best to have a container, bottle type or something similar, where this liquid is poured and then disposed of in a garbage can.
14.Reduce, better avoid making noise. Noise is one of the biggest pollutants of this civilized world.
Always remember that we go on a trip, a hike, to disconnect or visit new places, we do not go to a party.
In addition, we must respect other people, I mean other people consciously enjoying the places as they are, which means that if you play music or shout or speak too loudly, you are giving others an awful time.
On the fauna side, let us remember that, in places of natural environment, we go to the house of other living beings, so we must respect it, fauna does not like noise either.
If you go to a place where there are known to be toucans or other birds, we put music on, most likely they will leave and we will not see them because of the noise.
15. Avoid smoking and bringing cigarettes. Not only because of the smoke that can disturb other people and damage to health, but because if a cigarette butt falls on a dry grass, it could cause a fire, destroying the flora and killing many animals.
16.Do not touch the animals and avoid interacting with them, no matter how cute they look.
The more animals get closer to humans, somehow they begin to become semi-domestic, being harmful to themselves.
Also someone can take advantage of this, either to eat them or sell.
In addition, if they are very young, who need the protection and feeding of the mother, it may reject them, because they have been in contact with humans.
Also if a starfish is touched, it dies as this causes stress.
17.Do not feed the animals of the place, they will learn that the visitors give food, stop looking for their own food, so the day people stop going, these animals would starve.
You will say, but if they hunted before, perhaps their parents, but the new generations did not learn to hunt, if not to be fed by humans.
In addition, they will get close to people’s things and start looking for food, by the time you notice, everything can be destroyed and scattered.
18.Do not leave anything in the places, absolutely nothing, all the garbage that is generated must be taken away, it includes the organic because: leaving some orange seeds in a place where there is no such fruit, if it grow, it would cause nutritional changes in the fauna of the place, in some cases, being harmful to animals.
19.Do not take anything from the place, nothing that belongs to the place, since these leaves, trunks, corals, snails, among others, help the place to regenerate.
That is why Barro Colorado Island and Iguana Island with its white sand, They are so beautiful and spectacular.
If we stay in hotels, hostels or another place of accommodation, we can do things to reduce our footprint.
20. Turn off electronic that we are not using, including air conditioning when leaving.
21.Disconnect chargers for cell phones, tablets, laptops, coffee makers or any other device that we are not using.
22. Re-use the towel: There are places where they tell you to leave the towel on the floor if you want to have it changed.
In case of staying several days, it is best to avoid leaving it on the floor every day.
23.Better bathing with the shower than using the bathtub, thus consuming less water and also avoiding long baths.
24.Close the faucet when not in use. Example while we brush our teeth.
25.Use the stairs, if the room is on level 1 or 2.
26. Take what you are going to eat. If you have a buffet breakfast option, just take what you really are going to eat.
If you are hungry you can go back and take what you need.
Let’s avoid taking things and then leave them on the plate.
Some of these tips it seems that we are only saving money for the hotel, the truth is that we are helping to conserve resources, such as water, that if we waste them in the future we will regret.
Others Tips to Reduce the Ecological Footprint
The process of change is something that happens little by little, as we learn and make new habits we can improve and implement other things in our lives.
27.Recycle: on trips we can separate our waste into bags according to their type, organic, plastic, cardboard, among others and then leave it at some recycling point.
I know there are not many in Panama, but it exists, if you return to the city, you can go to Omar Park or the Cinta Costera, they are not exactly central, but we have them.
Although, it is not part of the Panamanian culture, I am glad that little by little there are more people who recycle and one day it will be part of our culture.
28. Be part of the change: I know that no one likes to pick up trash, let alone someone else’s, but if each visitor collected at least 4 bottles along the way (it could be another item).
In a while we would be able to clean those places that sadden us when we arrive and we see them dirty, we would also prevent others from getting so ugly.
29.Keep the car in good condition, so less CO2 will be generated.
30. Solar Chargers: This is an excellent tool to charge batteries for lamps and cell phones, especially for those who travel frequently.
These tips are designed above all for Panama, based on my own experience and knowledge that I have acquired on my trips thanks to experts.
Do you have others tips to Reduce the Ecological Footprint?, please tell me to add them to the list
Other places you may like
- 7 Churches of Casco Antiguo
- Ancón Hill, Tropical Humid Forest and Viewpoint of Panama City
- Plantación Trail in Soberanía National Park
- 7 Trails at Metropolitan Natural Park
- Visiting Miraflores Visitor Center of Panama Canal