As most people know, our oceans are in trouble. If you've been diving recently, you can see how it's changed over the years. We have shrinking and dying coral reefs, commercial pollution, fish species nearing extinction levels due to overfishing, and warming waters throughout the world. Among those who love the oceans most, scuba divers can make a significantly positive impact my making just a few small changes in the way they plan their dive trips. This article highlights the three most important changes you can make to help create sustainable travel for scuba divers.
#1 OFFSET CO2 EMISSIONS FOR YOUR FLIGHT
Unfortunately, there's not a solution to eliminating the carbon emissions from your flight to your diving destination. So, we recommend you utilize the services of a good carbon offset company. There are many to be found (a Google search for “carbon offset services" will return a list of 554,000 websites. Some of these sites compare the various services. Some are non-profits with tax deductible donations available. This is the most important part of your “green" scuba diving trip. The average cross-country flight in the U. S. creates approximately 1,500 pounds of carbon per passenger. You should be able to offset this Co2 footprint for under $10.
#2 SELECT AN ECO-FRIENDLY HOTEL OR RESORT
This is also an important consideration when traveling. Look for these things when contacting hotels or resorts:
1. Energy: Do they generate their own power through a windmill, hydro wheel, or through solar panels? If they do, this will show they've made a significant investment in the environment and they're serious about reducing their footprint.
2. The Small Things: Are they doing the small things that can make a big difference in the long run? Have they replaced their standard light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs? Do they wash towels and sheets only when asked by guests? Do they use reusable water glasses and pitchers in the rooms, rather than plastic ones that will wind up at the public dump? Doing the small things can be the first step for some hotels and resorts. We should reward destinations that are trying. It's a financial investment for travel suppliers to make changes and they can't continue to make them if we don't support them financially.
3. On-site Garden: Do they grow any of the vegetables they serve at their restaurant? This is one way to reduce carbon emissions that would normally impact the environment through shipping. Also, you'll know you are contributing to the local economy as the garden will likely employ local workers.
4. Water & Recycling Programs: Does the hotel endeavor to reduce their water usage through a voluntary laundry program for sheets and towels? Do they offer eco-friendly shampoos and soaps in the bathrooms? What do they do with their gray water? Is it recycled for use in watering the grass or the on-site garden? Do they separate and recycle aluminum and glass waste? How they handle these things all contribute to environmental friendliness.
#3 USE “GREEN" DIVE PRACTICES
Whenever you enter the ocean, there are a list of things you should always do and a list of things you should never do. They are:
ALWAYS: Always pick up any trash you see in the water that could be hazardous to marine life or to the reef. Stow it away on the boat in a secure area and pitch it out when you get back on land. Always have your camera with you so you can take pictures of the neat stuff you see in the water - rather than being tempted to take it with you.
NEVER: Never litter. Period. Keep your junk out of the ocean. Never stand on the coral reef or disturb any living thing in the ocean. Keep your distance from the reef. Love it from afar and always strive to keep a zero footprint when you're diving. Leave it the way you found it for the next diver.
Every diver knows the responsibilities scuba diving represents. When we travel, let's leave the smallest footprints we can on the planet (specifically, the oceans) so they will be just as amazing as they are now (or even more amazing) for future generations.
About the Author
Lorraine Grant is a former travel agent who loves reef diving. She's currently a travel writer for Going Green Travel - an informational site highlighting “green" travel suppliers and practices. Click here to read her latest “Going Green" travel report.