I have been doing some mentoring for the Staffordshire Environmental Quality Mark and it has been fun to really get to grips with what makes something sustainable and how best to travel sustainably!
You may know that I am a fully paid up member of the "take care of the world" gang and wanted to share with you what I think it means to achieve sustainable travel - it doesn't mean you have to knit your own bedding!
First and foremost I don't believe that green tourism has anything to do with being earnest and grave. I absolutely think that you can enjoy fabulous times while being sustainable. Focus on what you like to do on your hols or when you have time off work. Maybe you're a foodie so you might want to discover a local market or farmer's market. You can enjoy fabulous local treats and often find really great food. Almost by accident you will be supporting the local economy and helping keep food traditions alive - easy! Obviously you can also take a reusable shopper & ask for as little packaging as possible too. There is even less food waste too - more often that not they let you try before you buy - result!
Ok so you are a great outdoors person - maybe hiking or a simple stroll in great surroundings. It might be possible to find out about the local flora & fauna before you go out - check out local wildlife trust websites - many of them even let you volunteer for the day as part of a holiday - anything from dry stone walling to pond clearing. It may be as simple as reading about the history of the place you are visiting - is it a very special place or is it suffering from too much development. This may seem superficial, but it is in fact the way in which we can keep out environment in mind and stay in touch. More than likely you will need a cuppa along the way and of course trying and supporting a local cafe is no difficult task! It goes without saying that you don't leave litter or over wrap your packed lunch - greaseproof is great and can be recycled or an old fashioned paper bag!
Maybe you are a leisurely shopper? You may be away from home or a local who is used to big mall type places. You might want to use the opportunity to explore a market town. You will often find amazing local crafts and skills, independent clothes shops that actually care about what they sell you and there is often local shopper schemes to earn local points and vouchers. There will more often than not be a great piece of cake on offer somewhere & lots of architecture to look at. Again these are simple steps to supporting economy and independent retailers. Sustainable and easy!
Where you stay is important too. Many fabulous places now are showing themselves to have eco credentials. These holiday houses and hotels aren't necessarily the expensive ones or the overly exclusive. They are normal 3 and 4 star places that suit more pockets and they are beginning to turn their properties round so that every step they take makes a difference overall. Ask your accommodation provider what they can do. Even if they only recycle, it is a step in the right direction. A customer or guest asking for green measures and features will only give owners the confidence to change their practices as something guests really want.
I have only covered some of they ways in which we can make changes that don't make any difference to cost or quality of our holiday they just make a fabulous cumulative impact on the welfare of where we stay and visit as well as the wider environment.
Staffordshire has launched the Staffordshire Environmental Quality Mark(SEQM) which is based on the long standing and successful Peak District version. IT is therefore even more simple to look for the logo and find out who is making a difference. If you favourite place doesn't display it yet - ask them!
Enjoy your travels and look forward to welcoming you to Staffordshire! For all things local & fabulous, you can also check out www.simplystaffordshire.co.uk