April 21st, New Indian Express: ECOLOGIC- Pavitra Sriprakash, the Chief Designer and Director of Shilpa Architects writes on how to be environmentally responsible while taking a vacation.
With the summer vacations fast approaching, we have many options to spend our days — In the countryside, on the beach, in the mountains or in the city. For those that have not already made plans, let us consider how we can spend a few days off, while being responsible with the environment. A recent conference by the Indian Green Building Council was looking at the idea of having a special rating system for resorts that were looking to adopt earth friendly practices.
While the system mainly talks about how these resorts are built, there are many aspects to their operations and maintenance which can also be greener alternatives. While most of us are familiar with the small signs in hotel bathrooms that talk about their water saving ideas by cutting down the need to wash towels and linens unless it is requested, there are other means by which even the most luxurious of resort properties are looking to be more ‘green’. From having recycled containers for bath amenities to eco-cleaning products the housekeeping is getting more conscious of the environment.
Many hotels have even tried moving away from bottled water and offering alternatives to guests for refilling water during their stay. It is a particularly guilty feeling to drink water in hotel rooms that are offered in small water bottles, as each guest can easily use up four to five bottles per day racking up a huge amount of plastic waste! Watch out for some of these sustainable measures in hotels and resorts and be an active participant in any type of conservation effort they maybe engaged in. It is also not a bad idea to ask for a more sustainable option if the need is felt to do so — it helps signal that it is time for change as the market demands a greener resort experience.
Another terrific way to minimise your footprint during vacation is to be an uber conscious traveler who tries to have a ‘leave no trace’ vacation. This concept started off mainly as a camping idea but can very easily be extended to any summer picnic plans or road trips we may have on the beach, countryside, historic sites or in the mountains. As the term suggests, the goal is for the traveler to have a negligible impact on the location he or she is visiting.
One of its motto is ‘Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints’. Camping and picnic trips tend to produce a large amount of disposable waste as we carry items which we consume during our stay and look to dispose them off without having to carry them back — hence the simplest and most fundamental rule is: pack it in, pack it out. So, if you are packing to be on the go, look for alternatives that do not create non-biodegradable trash! It is best to carry food in containers which can be packed back, rather than disposed of in the wilderness. True practitioners of ‘leave no trace’ often don’t carry soaps, toothpaste and even pick up their poop so nothing is left behind!! Go ahead, challenge yourself this summer vacation and make plans that are kind to our environment.