Plastic and Sustainable Ways to Travel

Puran Bhardwaj

In this technologically advanced, modern-day world where travelling to far-flung destinations has become more easily accessible, sustainability and our impact on the environment often takes a backseat when it comes to travel.

Yet it’s important that we remain mindful about the places we visit, and our impact on the people we meet along the way.

Expedition Leader’s aims to tackle issues of sustainability by offering visitors a unique opportunity to visit local villages and help support the rural communities, learning sustainable local skills along the way. Immersing with the locals, and learning their crafts, arts and sports enables visitors to appreciate and respect the traditional ways of rural life.

Embracing these simpler ways of living, that are in harmony with the natural environment, allows travellers to connect with their surroundings and pay attention to their personal impact on the nature and environment. Expedition Leaders also works closely with community elders, respecting any plans or concerns that they may have, to ensure the environment remains unspoilt by sustainable tourism.

To offset the carbon emissions associated with air travel, Expedition Leaders runs “Green Footprints”: a tree-planting programme. The aim is to reduce the visitor’s environmental footprint by replanting trees and aiming for a more sustainable future. It’s this forward-thinking, thoughtful planning which is imperative to prolong the fragile existence of the local communities in Northern India, many of which are deeply connected to their surrounding environments.

The trees not only offset carbon emissions, but also stabilise ground conditions, which as a result can reduce the devastation from flooding during wet monsoon seasons. And tree planting is fun too! Visitors can plant their trees personally: choosing from native broadleaf tree species such as Pipal, Tuni, Ambla, Popular, Willow, Botha, Alpine and Khair. Or, if you prefer, for a small donation, the trees can be planted on your behalf. Green-root initiatives like this could mean more future forests, which will help counter balance the carbon emissions that are continually released into the atmosphere on a daily basis.

Plastic pollution is another growing pandemic. It is estimated that a whopping 12.7 million tonnes of plastic material ends up in our oceans each year. This shocking statistic is only set to increase, and by 2050 it’s predicted that the amount of plastic in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish. Therefore it’s imperative that we act now, and aim to reduce our plastic use: no matter how big or small, every attempt to recycle and avoid plastic consumption really does count. That’s why Expedition Leaders are keen to promote recycling,by using water filters and metal or glass bottles, rather than plastic ones. More steps are being made to eventually become totally plastic free.

Supporting the local charity, ASRA, Expedition Leaders has donated water filters to six mountain schools in the Satluj Valley, providing children with a reliable source of water.Another of ASRA’s projects includes the implementation of water channels in Ayu Village, Ladakh, providing the hill village with a vital water supply. This clean water not only is for drinking, but also for crop irrigation, enabling communities to maintain their local subsistence farming.

Volunteering within these communities is a hugely rewarding experience. As well as it being a sustainable way to travel, through supporting local, rural communities, it also makes visitors realise the complexities others endure on a daily basis in more remote mountain areas. In many ways these simpler ways of living are a refreshing tonic in this fast-paced, modern-day world, away from the noise and distractions of city living. It also allows visitors to support local communities, and helps the locals to thrive.

Explore while keeping sustainability in mind.