Look around and you’ll find nature’s bounty staring at you with benevolence. Everything around us is governed by nature and out of all the species on Earth, man shares the most intimate relationship with nature. On the one hand, we plant trees, water trees, petting animals, etc that forge a positive bond with nature while on the other hand, we cut down trees, throw waste callously, run our cars on non-renewable fuel or setup factories, etc that put us at odds with nature.
As humans, we are learning to deal with the harsh actions of nature and coping with them, however, some disasters strike without a warning (or the warning is not heeded by humans) and the result is a vast destruction of man and materials.
26th Dec 2004 00:58 UTC:
15 years back, around 0:58 UTC, the Mother Earth trembled with a ferocity that would lead to 227,898 casualties. It was to be known as the Great Asian Tsunami that had its epicenter off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw. The quake resulted in an immense amount of Kinetic energy in mid-ocean waves and when these waves reached the shore, they converted into potential and kinetic energy.
Thus the height of the waves was 33 feet! These waves swept off the islands and caused enormous destruction! India was badly affected by this natural disaster and the Disaster Recovery Response was too late!
Do you sometimes wonder why such events happen and whether such horrific natural disasters occur due to human activities? Well, I do and I feel partly responsible for such events.
When we visit a new city and stay in a plush hotel in the city center. After checking into one of the 150 rooms, we keep the water running, bulb alight and other leisure activities that emanate out of a feeling that is miles away from responsible living. The other day, while reading one of the research papers, I realized that the cost of making one 4 star or 5-star hotel room is an astounding INR 10 million. Yes, you heard it right… that is the cost of making one 5 star hotel room in which we enter and feel like we are in heaven! Imagine the amount of environmental burden in the form of water, wood, and other natural resources that would be caused during the construction of one hotel room! On top of that, if a single corridor of the hotel keeps its lights on during the night for the convenience of its guests! The burden seems to keep increasing with each luxury-filled activity! I can’t even count the amount of carbon footprint consumed by a 5-star hotel in a single year and especially during the holiday season when the guests flood the hotel! It just makes me wonder if I or you as the guest can ever compensate the carbon footprint of our hotel stay with paper currency?? I don’t think we can!
How to Travel responsibly?
Now that you and I have wondered how irresponsible we have been during our vacations or holidays or stay-cations, let us find a way to enjoy without putting an undue burden on the environment!
The answer is to travel by public transport in which the carbon footprint of the entire journey is distributed over all the passengers. Besides the lesser guilt of having put less pressure on natural resources, a train or bus can give you a beautiful view of the countryside during travel. The outline of trees against a dark background at night can be a sight to behold. I have also read experiences where people have met their potential matches for life during a train journey while sharing the same compartment and that they fell in love during the late-night conversation. So, now you know that traveling in public transport has more benefits than you thought.
Now, let’s come to alleviate the guilt of staying in an environmentally-expensive hotel by scouting for an environmentally cheaper solution. How about planning a stay in a Bed and Breakfast accommodation where you do not put an undue burden on the natural resources? Besides, you get to experience Indian culture first hand and experience the Indian family system and religious customs. Isn’t that better than switching on the TV in your hotel and laying there without learning anything new about a new culture? Let’s take the case of Danny, who is a UK resident staying in Spain and had come to India to attend an Indian colleague’s wedding. He was so enamored by the Indian traditions witnessed during the wedding ceremony that he canceled the booking in a hotel that he had planned to stay after the wedding and instead insisted on knowing Indian culture more intimately by opting to stay with an Indian family in an Indian BnB!
He loved the idea of having breakfast with the Indian family and then ask them for the nearest landmarks to visit and what he should pay to the tuk-tuk owner. In a matter of a few days, he was sure of where to go, what to eat and how to conduct himself. When it was time for him to leave for Spain, he was sad to leave his Indian family for his work back in Spain. So, as you can see Danny was guilt-free and happy to have met an Indian family and having witnessed Indian family and customs!
Dear reader, as we inch closer to 2020 and the climate change effects are beginning to dawn upon us, let us pledge to make a sincere endeavor to travel and live sustainably. Let us welcome 2020 with a smile and a firm determination to make this world a more environment-friendly place.