I love the word ‘eco-tourism’. It combines both two concepts I very much love, travel and love of the Earth. And don’t they go hand in hand? We love to travel because we love to see more of the earth we love. The Earth is beautiful because of all it different eco-systems and thanks to environmental ecologists, we are learning how fragile and how important to every species many of them are. We are also learning that there a few simple things we can do to protect these precious eco-systems.
I won’t go on about how much harm has already been done. Instead I’ll list things that can be done, easily, to make your holidays at least a bit more eco-friendly. Mallorca is probably the biggest tourist destination in Europe, and while both the local and national governments have implemented some fantastic programs to maintain and replenish native habitats, there is still so much work to be done.
Mallorca needs tourism. I hear that all the time, but I would like to re-phrase that. Mallorca needs sustainable tourism. Say it with me. “Mallorca needs sustainable tourism”. Its really not difficult nor is it impossible. Just try. Please. Many of these things you probably already do at home, and I get that when you area on vacation, you want to stop thinking so hard and stop even making decisions at all. We all want to be carefree for awhile. But like I said these things are simple, and you can then feel even better about yourself knowing you’ve done your best to take care to tread lightly on the land that you so much love to come and enjoy.
Once business owners see how willing and eager you are to be more eco-friendly, they will get on the train and find supply to meet your demand. So here are a few of my suggestions and guidelines.
- Bring re-usable water bottles. Use them! If you are renting a house for the week- ask the owners if there is a water-filter in the tap (this will encourage them to install one, they are not expensive). If you feel you do have to purchase water, buy large, 6 liter bottles instead of a brick of 12 bottles wrapped in plastic. Or how about buying a Brita water filter and leaving it there for the next guests? At a hotel? Bring along a water bottle that has its own filter. Something like this water bottle with its own filter. You’ll probably spend more money on 20 bottles of water. So now you save money also! Also, you would not buy beer out of a plastic bottle, so why do you buy a Coca-cola out of one? There is always the option of the good ol’ tin can that is recyclable. Opt for the can.
- Bring re-suable shopping bags! They make these durable, weightless bags that are dirt cheap and can fit into the pocket of your jeans. They sell them at the counters of may shops but if you want, here are some washable, durable and lightweight bags from Amazon. When people offer you a bag, you can now say no thanks. Mallorquins make the best natural baskets by hand. Purchase one for use and leave it for the next guy or take it home. You then support a local artisan and reject plastic bags at the same time.
- Reject the straw! If they give you a plastic straw, remove it from your drink as though it were a fly in your chardonnay and tell your bartender to please not do that again. They will learn, hopefully sooner than later.
- Find out where the local produce and local food items are sold and shop there. Do a bit of research and find a local organic farmer, make contact, and ask if you can visit the farm or where you can find their produce. Mallorca has loads of local fruits, veggies, meats, fish, cheese, yogurt and treats, indulge!
- So, you’ve found the open-air markets! Fantastic! Some of these markets have been going on for decades. Over the years market-stall operators have found ways to maximize profits, and often many of those have resorted to buying their wholesale stock from India, China or elsewhere. Make it your mission to seek out the local artist and craftspersons. These are the ones who are sincere and passionate about their work and really deserve support. Look for local jewelers, bakers, artists, farmers etc. Here in Artá, I sometimes volunteer for an organization called Dignitat I Feina (Work and Dignity) that make an artisanal almond turon from locally harvested almonds, from a local recipe more than 100 years old. Your purchase helps them employ people who have difficult finding work for whatever reason, giving them dignity and work instead of free handouts. Look for me at the Tuesday market stall as I am there from time to time throughout the year. If not me it will be another volunteer.
- Staying at a hotel? Hopefully you find yourself at one that is participating in some sort of ‘eco-friendly program’. You can help them. Participate in the hotel’s linen-and-towel-reuse program and always flick off the lights when you leave the room. Skip the bottles of water in your room and refill your own beverage container. Bring your own bathroom amenities, theirs are usually tiny, on-time use wrapped in plastics and are not likely to be of high quality anyway.
- Choose your activities wisely. There are some very beautiful places to see on this island and there are some wonderful tour operators, choose walking, hiking, cycling, paddling or kayaking instead of noisy power ATVs, stinky scooters, and obnoxious jet skis. My friend Toni at MallorcAmazing Tours will take you on the most beautiful hikes you can imagine, as well as bring you to authentic, delicious, local Mallorquin restaurants. Here in Artá you can rent a bicycle and journey down the Via Verde from here to Manacor and see the countryside. If you do choose to go to a Natural park, please remember to stay in the authorized areas and take away any trash, even if it isn’t yours.
- Beach etiquette. Don’t leave trash on the beach. Pick up your cigarette butts, plastics and even some extra that you didn’t take. You don’t need that plastic pink floaty, really, you don’t need it! Bring a re-usable umbrella, not one that will be thrown away in the rubbish bin after 3 trips to the beach. Alternatively, find a bit of shade from a tree, or buy a nice big beach hat! Now they have these great, light-weight shade tents that are durable and will last for years.
- Go wine tasting at an organic winery! Here I can help you! There is one in Petra that I love, their Blanc de Negre is one of my favorite white wines from Mallorca. The winery is called Vins Can Coleto. Please feel free to contact me about taking you there for a tasting, I have been before, but if I can go again, and I would be very happy to be your translator. Another organic vineyard, producing superb Mallorquin wines is Can Majoral. Also, my beloved Bodega Biniagual is organic, see my rosé review for this wine here.
- Some other activities that support local ecology are snorkeling, mountain bike, horse riding, bird-watching, visiting olive oil mills and star-gazing. Here are a couple more links to explore: Wildlife Mallorca, and, did you know there is and Astrological Observatory here?
In summary, reject one-time use-plastics, support local artisans and famers. Voice your environmental concerns to the businesses you patron, they will listen, demand leads to supply. Choose low-impact transportation and visit your local wine producers. Stay out of the way of the local wildlife and help clean up trash when you see it where it should not be. It is so dis-heartening to see a small island inundated with massive waste-producing habits. Imagine what an eco-friendly Mallorca would look like. If we can manage to do it on one island, perhaps we can do it all over the earth. Please, try to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.
And to local business owners here, if you are reading this, its time for you to get into the game here. Its a group effort. Ask yourself, what can you do to make your business more ecologically friendly. Do you need suggestions? We all want what is best for the land that provides us with its bounty, do we not? What can you do today to change? Get paper straws here. If people want a plastic straw so badly then maybe they should bring their own. Why not sell some re-usable bags with your business logo on it? Stop blaming the customers and take some responsibility.
Thank you for reading. Please like, comment, share and repeat.