How to see the world without leaving a footprint.
Meet the Dolpo-pa
A remote outpost of the Himalayas which missed out on the adventure travel boom will have the chance to try its hand at tourism from November when a Scottish businessman leads the inaugural trekking tour of his new ethical travel company, Nomadic Skies Expeditions, into the village of Dolpo. Gavin Anderson, whose career in international development saw him commissioned to explore tourism opportunities in lesser known areas of Nepal, will take nine trekkers to the village in the high Himalayas whose economic future and culture is at risk due to youth migration. The local people, known as the Dolpo-pa, will learn how to host the trekkers, giving them the opportunity to secure a more sustainable future. Highlights of the trip will include seeing the turquoise waters of the sacred Phoksundo Lake and the possibility of spotting an endangered snow leopard.
Seattle, we salute you
Taking a stand against plastic has assumed tsunami-like proportions, with cruise lines, hotel groups, adventure companies, airlines and airports, luxury resorts, Starbucks and now entire cities getting on board with banning straws and single-use plastic items. Earlier this month, Seattle became the first large city to ban plastic straws and utensils from its restaurants which had to replace them with compostable alternatives or ask guests to BYO. The US city was an early adopter of green initiatives, banning single-use disposable food service items in 2008 and attempting to restrict the use of disposable retail bags that same year. The latter was challenged by an industry-funded initiative and eventually came into law in 2011, while the ban of single-use plastic items had to wait until there was an affordable and effective replacement. Starbucks announced on July 9 it was phasing out straws in all its stores by 2020, helping the global giant eliminate more than a billion straws a year.
… And the rest of you
Where Seattle goes, others will soon follow. New York City, Vancouver, the UK and the entire state of California are also looking at plastic straw bans while, closer to home, Niue has announced it will ban single-use plastic bags over the next 12 months. The European Union is considering a wider single-use plastics ban. Clocking in as the world's second-largest consumer market after the US, the EU's European Commission says there would be major economic and environmental benefits gained by banning single-use plastic items including avoiding environmental damage that would otherwise cost €223 billion ($383 billion) by 2030. It also claims a ban would avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent during the same period.
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The last straw for the disabled
The anti-straw movement, however, has received some criticism from disability advocates who have pointed out drinking a beverage without a flexible plastic straw is impossible for many. Apart from expecting the disabled to carry their own, one possible solution floated by David M. Perry, an American journalist whose son has Down syndrome and who writes about disabled issues, is for straws to be provided on request for those who obviously need them; opting in rather than opting out. He argues plastics producers should be held financially responsible for their safe disposal and says alternatives to plastic straws, such as compostable or metal versions, also have their drawbacks, such as cost and possible food allergy issues. He also says that, in the grand scheme of things, straws are the least of our plastic worries. You can read his views at psmag.com/environment/banning-straws-wont-save-the-oceans
Walking the talk
One travel company has got on the front foot, compiling a plastic-free holiday guide with 40 options. For a trip to qualify for UK company Responsible Travel's 'No single use plastic' holidays, there must not be single-use plastic used at any time by its accommodation, dining, transport and activities providers. Among the acceptable holiday options are diving, sailing, handcraft, sketching and painting trips.