A great suitcase choice for a sustainable trip, they are made from an innovative recycled nylon fibre – ECONYL® yarn – which is cleverly and 100% regenerated from waste nylon sources including discarded fishing nets, carpet fluff, textile offcuts and pre-consumer nylon waste. For every 100 Davy J suits sold, around 9kg of waste has been regenerated, and through a collaboration with the healthy seas initiative among others, spent and ghost fishing nets are actively collected by volunteer divers and fishing communities and fed into the regeneration process to prevent the damage they can have to wildlife and ecosystems. All the suits are available online at www.davyj.org.
Shopping is part of the hedonistic pleasure of travel for many, and a fantastic shopping trip can sweeten a holiday. And when we shop, buying local is usually the best thing sustainable travellers can do for ourselves, the environment and society.
It feels good, of course. Picking up interesting little finds in a local market or buying a piece of furniture or art that we’ve watched being made by an artisan is, to many of us, a whole lot more satisfying than buying off the peg items from an international chain store – for ourselves, and for the people who have made the goods we’ve bought.
Buying local is also part of the rich cultural experience we seek out when we travel. If we want to visit places with character that don’t look like all the other places we go to, buying something direct from those who made it or from a co-operative that represents a group helps such individuality flourish, and is a great way for us to connect to our trip through that item long after we’ve returned home.
Buying local also keeps money in the local community. Not only are small businesses more likely to donate money to local charities and events than big international businesses, studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, more of your money is used by those businesses to buy from other locals, whether they’re getting fruit or vegetables from a local farm to use in their shop café or ordering wood or other materials to make furniture or art.
Independent shops are also more likely to employ locals and train them properly, so you get a better all round service, and because locally owned businesses are more likely to buy things locally, they don’t have to transport goods from far away and use fossil fuels that they don’t need to.
Shopping when we travel doesn’t just relate to buying material goods, of course, but to meals, treatments and all kinds of services. To reduce the strain on the environment that comes from importing things, eating locally sourced, seasonal food at restaurants that care and choosing spa treatments that use products that have been locally made with natural ingredients is important too. And using local guides, who you pay directly, helps keeps money inside a community and often gives you a better, more informed service too.
Be warned that while bargain-hunting and haggling when we buy local on holiday might feel ok because we’re out of our home environment, it isn’t usually the best route for the artisan or the community. If someone is selling high quality goods, they deserve to be paid well for them wherever they are.
All that said, travellers still need to be vigilant and be wary of local guides and traders who are not themselves ethical. Many of us have experienced guides who take you to particular shops only because they get commission, while traders may be selling goods that are poor quality, counterfeit versions of the real deal nearby or illegal (such as antiques or precious shell that should not be taken from the country). So buy local – but buy ethically too.
It’s often nice to buy something local from our home towns before we travel, whether it’s a locally made bag to keep your bits and pieces or a hand made notebook in which to track your thoughts. And when we do need to buy online or from a larger or chain supplier, it’s getting easier to sift through the green wash and find inventive retailers who care about people and the planet and who are making all sorts of delicious traveller tools, from Fair Trade clothing to sustainable suncream.
Whether you’re at home or on holiday, it all comes down to ethical shopping, as Tim Hunt, Director of UK-based Ethical Consumer, says. ‘Money is a vote which you can use every time you go shopping. By using your spending power wisely you can help in the struggle towards a better world’. To help decide what clothes to take on your next trip, read Tim’s guide to Ethical Fashion.
Tim Hunt, editor of Ethical Consumer magazine, takes a look at sustainable fashion and suggests some alternatives to hitting the high street for the perfect holiday outfit.
With an exciting new trip on the horizon, it’s easy to get swept up in shopping frenzy while advertisers draw us in with promises of the next new holiday look. We certainly like our fashion. In the UK alone, consumers buy 1,130,000 tonnes of clothing a year. But shockingly, according to Barnados, each garment is only worn an average of seven times before it is discarded. This fashion fix is short lived, but it doesn’t have to be this way, and can’t be if we want to travel sustainably.
Across the developed world we have a problem with fast fashion: cheap pieces in the style of the moment that aren’t built to last. After a few wears, most of this fashion makes it way out of our houses in household waste, most being sent to landfill or incinerated, only to be replaced with yet more clothing. This harmful circle of overproduction and waste contributes to global warming, releases poisonous chemicals into the environment and fuels poor working conditions for textiles manufacturers in developing countries.
It’s time to slow down. Here are 5 ways to a sustainable suitcase:
- Take stock and save – do you already have what you need and can you make do with what you have? Although a new outfit makes us feel great, it isn’t new for long and you might already have something that does the job just as well.
- Swap – there are loads of swapping initiatives popping up all over Europe and the US. For a small charge, you can take your unwanted clothes and simply swap them for another item. Cheap and cheerful. Or for a completely free alternative, simply arrange your own swapping session with friends.
- Shop second-hand – by browsing the racks in charity shops, you’ll not only be picking up bargains you’ll also be supporting a good cause. If the statistics are anything to go by, the clothes will be hardly worn.
- Get sewing – think about whether you can mend your clothes. Fix holes and add new fastenings and your outfit will be as good as new, at a fraction of the cost.
- Buy durable – if you do need something new, then buy good quality items that are built to last, and then wear them lots. To prolong the life of your clothes, line dry rather than tumble dry, wash at low temperatures and iron less.
If you do need a new item, there are increasing number of sustainable and ethical brands offering feel good clothing:
1. People Tree (http://www.peopletree.co.uk/) for 100% Fair Trade clothing, with natural, organic fabrics chosen over chemically-produced manmade fibres.
2. Nudie Jeans (https://www.nudiejeans.com) for 100% Fair Trade and organic jeans and a wide selection of second-hand items. They also offer a free repair service for all new jeans and a 20% discount if you trade in an old pair.
3. Annie Greenabelle (http://www.anniegreenabelle.com/) for a combination of organically grown, recycled and reclaimed fabrics.
4. Beyond Retro (https://www.beyondretro.com/) for quirky vintage pieces and an own label made entirely from reclaimed material.
5. Know the Origin (https://knowtheorigin.com/) for 100% organic materials and selected Fair Trade items, as well as a transparent and fair supply chain.
You can send your old clothes travelling too. When you finally need to part ways with a garment, make sure to give it the best journey possible. Charity shops should accept all types of clothing, for reselling in the shop or export to another country. Anything not suitable for resale can be collected for recycling, with the charity receiving a payment. Although textile recycling is still in its infancy, there are some good tracks being made to produce quality clothing from this process.
You can find Ethical Consumer magazine at www.ethicalconsumer.org. For more information on sustainable and ethical fashion, check out Ethical Consumer’s guide at http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/shoppingethically/ethicalfashion.aspx.
This month in its pursuit of inspiring sustainable travel NOW talks to Nachson Mimran, the co-founder of To:, an inspiring platform that promotes a different, kinder way of doing business and supports entrepreneurs and initiatives that are making our world better. Nachson is also the President of Grand Hotel Alpina AG, the owning company of The Alpina Gstaad. Find out more at www.to.org.
One word that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
I’m a creative activist.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
Sharing it with my children.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
Who is your greatest influence?
My brother Arieh, the co-founder of To:
Best advice you’ve been given?
What was your Plan B?
Your personal indulgence?
How do you like to travel?
Favourite sustainable hotel or other place to stay?
The Aman lodges in Bhutan.
What steps do you take to make your life more sustainable?
I eat a plant-based diet.
What must happen NOW to help make our planet more sustainable?
What hotels walk the talk on sustainability in your experience?
The One Hotel in Miami and New York City.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say?
The Dalai Lama, and I would just listen.
Any regrets so far?
Never regret anything.
An other-worldly volcanic island at the juncture of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans in Northern Europe, Iceland is packed with poetic legends, cinematic landscapes and geothermal lagoons, the home of the awe-inspiring Northern Lights and fascinating creatures such as the Arctic Fox where an industrious and warmhearted people are passionately committed to their country and sustainable tourism within it.
Perhaps because of such interest and beauty, Iceland has become an enormously popular place to visit in a short space of time, and while this has been brilliant for many local businesses, it has also put strain on infrastructure, nature and society. This is most visible in the southwestern part of the country, largely because of the location of Keflavik Airport, the only international airport in Iceland.
Far from being phased by the situation, however, Icelanders are rising to the challenge and looking intensively at ways to manage the pressures associated with the number of people arriving. In the name of sustainable travel, they are starting to disperse visitors away from hot spots, and trying hard to better manage their scenic areas to protect them from trampling and future visitors and generations.
Karen Möller Sívertsen, manager of Visit Iceland, told itmustbeNOW Magazine: ‘We want to better inform visitors before and during their stay about Iceland’s fragile nature, how to behave responsibly as a traveller, local culture and Icelandic peculiarities’. Visitors can now use Iceland Academy, an online education tool with video classes that address everything from safe driving to local hot tub etiquette, while The Icelandic Pledge is an online agreement devised by global tourism initiative Inspired By Iceland that invites travellers to sign up to be a responsible tourist when visiting the country. The eight point pledge encourages tourists to experience Iceland the way that Icelanders do by agreeing to a set of guidelines such as, ‘when exploring new places, leave them as they are’, take photos ‘without dying for them’, to ‘never venture’ off-road (a direct call response to the total ban on off-road driving in Iceland) and to adhere to allocated campsites when ‘sleeping under the stars’.
300 Icelandic tourism companies have also agreed on a country-wide declaration on responsible tourism with some clear and simple sustainable measures to help tourism thrive in harmony with society and the environment, while a Route Development Fund has been established to encourage direct international flights to airports in North and East Iceland and take the strain off the major hub. Other initiatives have succeeded in encouraging tourists to travel off-season – mainly in the Winter months – and so reduce pressure on seasonal hot spots, particularly in and around the capital of Reykjavik and South Iceland.
EarthCheck has been working closely with 14 municipalities within Iceland to help address all these issues under its Sustainable Destinations programme. Vice President of Sales at EarthCheck André Russ, who has just returned from a field trip to the country, told itmustbeNOW Magazine: ‘We are enormously proud of the work both destinations have undertaken to achieve EarthCheck Certification. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Westfjords in particular are true pioneers when it comes to a community approach to the environment and are filled with passionate locals who are welcoming and really want to make a difference.’
Snaefellsnes is a 90 km long Peninsula in West Iceland that’s home to just under 4000 residents and it’s a wondrous place to visit, with a long mountain range that ends in the glacier which served as a main focus in Jules Verne’s novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. About 80% of the businesses in the area are related to tourism, and the area has seen the largest year-on-year increase in the number of foreign travellers on record. To protect its future, the Snæfellsnes community took part in a massively successful ‘Reusable Snæfellsnes’ initiative in 2017 to stop using plastic and disposable containers and bags and make a conscious effort to choose reusable options instead, while a Nordic Beach Cleanup Day saw locals, schools, NGOs and other organisations get together for a beach clean-up all over the coastline which is now set to become an annual event.
Westfjords contains a third of Iceland’s coastline and is home to millions of seabirds which use its high cliffs to nest. Places like Vigur island are the base for alarmingly rare stocks of breeding puffins, while the Hornstrandir nature reserve protects the Artic Fox from hunting so it’s a great place to spot this cute, shy animal and the whole region is full of gyrfalcons, sea eagles, snowy owls and other gorgeous breeds too. To help safeguard this natural wonderland, nine municipalities of Westfjords are now working on a Green Step programme to green their workspaces and organise their daily practices in a more environmentally friendly way. The criteria becomes more challenging with every step, and the community intend to bring the initiatives into local households too.
Thailand was my first trip abroad. The first week of travelling was incredible and I was amazed to get such a diverse experience of the culture and the country. Having a tour guide was great because she really helped us understand the culture and what it was like to be Thai.
Meeting the elephants was by far my favourite day! It was such an honour to meet these creatures up close and to share in their fun. Seeing them cared for so beautifully was great and we got to see them in their natural habitat which was wonderful.
It was really great to have that first week to understand Thailand a bit more, because Koh Tao is a very different place. Not that it isn’t fab, but its very tourism focused and therefore obtains very little of genuine Thai culture. If I had just been to Koh Tao I don’t think I would be able to say that I visited Thailand.
The New Heaven Reef Conservation Programme is fantastic! All the staff have an incredible amount of knowledge and seem to know everything about anything that lives under the waves. But just like all the students there, they are constantly learning and studying the ecosystems which is very exciting. I went there to collect research for my university dissertation. The staff were very supportive and got very involved which was so kind. They have millions of projects on the go and new ideas, and they gave me loads of options based on their expertise and the time that I was there.
I studied my biology project when we went to appropriate sites for two days a week and was involved in other conservation works as well for the other days. I learnt so much about the life in the reefs of Koh Tao and I was excited to be a part of making a difference. Every day was different and the lectures were easy to understand, even if one knew nothing about the ocean or biology. I studied Marine Biology and there are plenty of new things to learn.
For anyone interested in going on this trip I would recommend staying for as long as you can! I initially planned to stay for three weeks and I am so glad I decided to go for 8 weeks instead. Staying for an extended period meant that you can be involved in all the activities and learn more skills. Everyone I met never wanted to leave and everyone returns because it is such a beautiful habitat and the programme is incredible.
Going with Flooglebinder (www.flooglebinder.co.uk) made life easy and they supported me throughout my journey. Preparing for the trip was less stressful and there was always someone to ask for advice before and during the trip.
They answered every pathetic question and query I had, rang me multiple times and even met my Dad! I’m so pleased that I went and that I had their support. https://flooglebinder.co.uk
NOW would love to feature your ‘Giving Back’ stories too. For more information, take a look here: https://www.itmustbenow.com/itmustbenow-magazine-contributor/