Friday, 26 December 2008

Going Green Travel » Leaving small footprints in our big world. » Going Green Scuba Diving Tips

Going Green Scuba Diving Tips

Scuba DiverWith the environmental impact of overfishing, dying reefs, heavy metals from industrial pollution, kelp deforestation, and the havoc wreaked by invasive marine species our thoughts turn to the sea. Specifically, we wanted to offer some ways we can enjoy the benefits of scuba diving in the world’s oceans without leaving any further footprints on this most wonderful of natural resources.
Here are our top tips for “going green” scuba diving:

Since there’s no way to travel by plane in a “green” way - the only solution is to offset the carbon emissions caused by your flight. Many companies offer ways to do just that. One we especially like is called Carbon Fund. They offer ways to offset all your carbon emissions from all the different things you do in life (driving your vehicle, electricity for your home, energy used to produce the food you eat - as well as the carbon footprint you create through air travel). The next time you plan a dive trip, contact Carbon Fund to offset your Co2. Your contribution is tax deductible and, best of all, you’ll feel great knowing you’re doing your part to leave small footprints on the planet.

As most of you know, some resorts and hotels do better at being “green” than others. Some think if they have a policy where they don’t necessarily wash your towels every day that they are a “green” resort. We’re certainly happy for any changes resorts and hotels make to help the environment, they’ll have to do more than that to be considered “going green” in our view.

Look for resorts that grow some or all of their own food in an organic garden. This reduces carbon emissions through a reduction in transportation.

Special attention should be paid to resorts and hotels that create some or all of their own energy — ask if they create solar energy or if they have a wind turbine or water wheel.

Ask about the light bulbs — replacing standard bulbs with compact florescent is an inexpensive way resorts and hotels can reduce their energy footprint and begin to go green.

How do they handle their water consumption? Reducing the amount of laundry they wash is great, but it’s only a start. Look for biodegradable soaps and see if they’re recycling their gray water to care for landscaping or vegetable gardens.

Do they recycle and reduce their trash? How do they handle plastic bottles and aluminum cans? Do they use consumable glasses and pitchers in rooms that will wind up in a landfill or do they utilize re-usable items?

Choose local operators who emphasize sustainable dive practices and adhere to a “green” code of conduct. Do your research before you book your trip. The Green Fins program in Thailand is a great example of what to look for. They have a specific code of conduct they require all their affiliated dive operators to adhere to. If every dive operator in the world instituted the same guidelines, we would be well on our way to preserving our ocean’s reef systems.

You already know what to do — so just commit that you’re going to do it. Don’t ever litter the ocean with your junk. No water bottles, plastic cups, wrappers, film canisters, or anything. Make sure you secure all your trash on the boat so it doesn’t blow into the water. If you see any junk in the water during your dive, remove it and throw it away properly. You’ll be creating some good karma for yourself.

Never remove anything from the ocean - period. Take your camera and get pictures of everything that looks cool, but never be tempted to take it with you. First, you’ll be contributing to the destruction of the earth’s reefs and, second, you’ll likely get caught at some point and could end up in real hot water with the local authorities. It’s not worth it. Let your camera “take” photos of whatever you find interesting in the water. Never violate this ethic.
Be careful when splashing around in shallower water. Make sure you stay near the top of the water and never, ever, kick your fins into the delicate reef coral or other marine life. Don’t be a bull in a china shop. Leave the reef the same way you found it — the way the diver before you left it for you.

Okay, that’s it. Get out there and enjoy your next scuba trip knowing that your travel dollars are voting for sustainable travel choices. The more people vote with their dollars — the quicker we’ll see changes in the way the travel industry addresses environmental travel issues.

Going Green Travel » Leaving small footprints in our big world. » Going Green Scuba Diving Tips