‘Eco-tourism’ has become the buzzword of the minute. Responsible tourism is big business, as travellers desire to become, well, a little more responsible! With travel by its very nature including some form of vehicle, whether with flight, trains, cars, or boats; it isn’t all that easy to be green.
Vancouver Island is keen to promote greener travel, and this is something we at Nanaimo Yacht Charters are completely behind as well. To enjoy the planet through exploring it, we need to also protect it for future generations to enjoy as well. There are lots of little things we can do to protect the environment and wildlife in and around Nanaimo and Vancouver Island, and in this article we are going to unpack some of those ideas, so that you, the traveller have a better idea of how to holiday responsibly.
Canada’s Green Reputation
First, we will look at how the country fairs in green affairs. Canada, as a whole, is quite an environmentally friendly country. Over seventy-nine per cent of the country’s electricity comes from green and eco-friendly sources – mostly wind turbines. It is showing the rest of the world how it should be done when it comes to energy innovation. Wind, water, and solar are definitely the way to go.
When it comes to travel, many Canadians choose to walk as opposed to using public transport or jumping in the car. To encourage this, the government created new regulations that meant since 2016 there has been a limit on the emissions cars and small trucks could make. This is projected to mean that vehicle emissions will reduce by half by 2025. The most impressive thing for us is that our host, Vancouver, boasts one of the greenest cities in the world. It has achieved this accolade by utilising nature’s bounty in the form of hydropower plants. Canada encourages visitors to plan eco-friendly holidays and once even produced a geo-tourism map, that includes trails, walking tours, and sites of sustainable development.
As we know, water and its consumption is also a major concern when it comes to environmental issues. In Calgary, water meters are mandatory, and this has shown to reduce average household water consumption by up to sixty per cent. There have also been several creative and innovative initiatives led by Canadian citizens. One such example comes from Montreal where a man created an online database of waste for artists to purchase to create art from. Canada was one of the first countries to establish a Ministry of the Environment back in 1971 to monitor and protect the environment. They collaborated with Barak Obama to develop more clean energy technology too. Afterall, many hands make lighter work. So all in all we think Canada is pretty great, and we think you will too.
Despite the number of wonderful initiatives and a strong commitment from Canadians and Vancouver, there are still a number of challenges to overcome. For example, recently it was announced that illegal fly tipping costs Vancouver around $50,000 a year. This came as a huge pile of household rubbish was found dumped inside of Mount Douglas Park. Walkers discovered large items such as sofas and chairs illegally left in the park which is a popular spot for walkers. Apparently, this is unfortunately, not uncommon. Park authorities receive over 500 call outs each year for similar incidents. The fine for such a heinous act is currently $150 on top of clearance fees but this is hard to enforce as dumpers aren’t exactly doing this in broad daylight.
Another challenge that has hit Vancouver of late is the proposed liquid natural gas pipeline. The people are taking to the streets to march against the Coastal GasLink project which is an extremely in-environmentally friendly form of energy production. It goes against what Canada as a whole stands for, and the people aren’t standing for it. Protestors are worried about the affect the project may have on the ocean. Vancouver Island relies on the ocean for many things including tourism. The proposed route of the pipeline is also projected to go through traditional territories which means the project will be culturally, as well as environmentally damaging.
It can be said with confidence that the vast majority of tourism operators on Vancouver Island are committed to environmentally sustainable practice. That means when you visit, you are already part of the solution too. The ‘green mantra’ is simply to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Pretty simple really. Once you are in this habit as a business, it is easy to maintain. Not only is this the responsible thing to do, but it helps businesses bottom line too. Eco-friendly companies are far more attractive to potential customers too. This was once thought to be a myth but has since been proven very much not to be. Multiple surveys have shown that travellers are prepared to pay a slight premium to be safe in the knowledge they are investing in sustainable experiences. Canada’s Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism are taken very seriously across Vancouver and hear at Nanaimo Yacht Charters. It focusses on the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) as opposed to just the latter.
Sustainable tourism is all about respecting the natural, cultural, and social heritage of the places we love. It is about learning how to care for those places, and ensure that our presence has a positive impact as opposed to a negative. For this to work, it isn’t only the travel organisations that need to act. It is a combined effort between businesses, local people, government, and visitors. The government provides lots of tips to make being green that little bit easier. There are toolkits, best practice manuals, certifications, and more available for local businesses. So although being green isn’t always easy, the complexity has been taken out of it somewhat in Canada.
The eco-tourism movement is a global one. The Global Sustainable Tourism group have created criteria for the baseline standards in responsible travel. They form the basis for certification and a common language for businesses when contemplating these big issues. The four pillars of the criteria are sustainable management, socioeconomic impacts, cultural impacts, and environmental impacts such as consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity. And it is the environmental impacts that we are most concerned with at Nanaimo Yacht Charters, due to the very nature of the experiences we provide.
As a visitor to Vancouver with us at Nanaimo Yacht Charters, there are a number of things you can do to help us preserve the beautiful natural environment. Here are some of our top tips:
- Whilst yachting, you can ensure that any waste is properly disposed of and recycled. If you spot something floating in the water that isn’t supposed to be there, why not net it up? Every little helps.
- You can also ensure that your whole holiday is itinerarised before you go. May not seem like this is a green action, but in fact planning is key to avoid wasted miles.
- You can also make sure that you pack well, less weight whilst travelling means a greener traveller.
- Think about microplastics. Bring environmentally friendly soaps and cosmetics to make sure that nothing nasty gets washed into the waterways.
- Waste less water by taking shorter showers and not leaving the tap running whilst brushing your teeth! Also only flush the loo for number 2’s.
- Eat responsibly. Meat takes a lot of resources from the planet and so why not try some local veggie or vegan recipes whilst on holiday.
- Use a refillable bottle for water, rather than constantly purchasing individual plastic bottles. The less plastic we have to use the better! Also think about re-useable straws and cutlery.
- If you love the flower, let it grow. Don’t pick plants or flowers on land or under the water. Many species of flora and fauna are under threat, and so we need to let the ones that are there thrive.
- Buy local and not from chain stores – that way more money goes back into the local community. Same goes for restaurants whilst on shore too.
- Visit national parks and protections zones to learn about the local area and to support conservation efforts
This list is not exhaustive, and we would love to hear some of your tips for a green yacht experience! Take these bits of advice as a starting point, and run wild with it. The possibilities are boundless, and it would be great to hear how our clients are innovating to protect the environment, both on board and at home. We know that our clients are as keen to ensure the beauty of Vancouver is protected for future trips and future generations of go-getters just as much as us. We can’t wait to welcome you to Vancouver Island and help you explore the environment that we as a local business, are so very proud of. Get in touch today to plan your greener yachting experience.