Nepal is one of those countries that have seen one of the worst natural disasters in the recent times. This should be enough of a gentle reminder that you should respect nature and always practice environment friendly practices when exploring such a fragile ecosystem. Nepal has boosted its tourism since the earthquake and because of this a lot of rules and regulations have been overlooked by the travel operators.
Easy travel rules should not be the reasons for you to become an irresponsible traveller. Certain eco friendly ways of travelling will certainly help the country’s eco-system in more ways than you would imagine.
How to be an eco-friendly traveller in Nepal
Don’t buy plastic bottles, refill instead
Nepal takes plastic accumulation very seriously. Despite complaints of locations like Everest and Annapurna Circuit filled with bottles, the water management is being taken care of in a smart way. All the hotels, restaurants and hostels in Nepal offer free water refill. A few charge as low as INR 30 but that is still cheaper than buying a bottle and then throwing it away. A thermoflask will keep your water fresh and drinkable for at-least 24 hours and if you forget to carry yours then don’t worry, you will find a good bottle in the trekking shops of Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Avoid private vehicles, use bus and shared taxis
Nepal’s economic situation is not very helpful for locals. But for tourists it means that they can spend their vacation in a lavish way and often hire private cars to commute. Using buses and shared cars are a better way to reduce your carbon footprint. There are plenty of shared vehicles in tourist destinations and go easier on the pocket.
Bring your waste from Everest Base Camp and other trek destinations
Nepal has been infamous for irresponsible trekking. There is tons of trash around Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit among many others. If you are planning a trek to any such location then try to carry your waste back. If you use same bottle and refill during treks, use menstrual cups rather than throwing sanitary pads away and carrying back packets of chips to the base, it will help in keeping the location clean, even if it is on a very minute scale.
Support local businesses
Nepal has seen rapid commercialization of tourism industry over the last few years. This has brought a number of hotel, fast food and supermarket chains in the country. Choosing them over a local business is not fruit bearing because the citizens involved with travel industry of the country fail to gain profit from your presence in the city. Yes, these chains employ locals from that country but a huge margin of the profit goes out of the country where its head office is actually present. Supporting local businesses will prove helpful for them and they will be able to thrive in the market for a longer time and provide better services.
Buy ecofriendly products
Nepal has a number of organizations that promote eco friendly products. From jute bags to notepads made of elephant poop, these products are friendly to environment and decompose after they become obsolete. Purchasing such materials will take you a step closer to reducing your carbon footprint in the long run.
Don’t promote elephant safari
This is a debatable topic but I am sure that sitting on an animal to explore its own home doesn’t make any sense. Despite elephant conservation going strongly in the country, elephant safari is a very mean way to interact with an animal. Instead, you can donate the same amount at the elephant breeding centre, buy some fruits (they like bananas) and offer them for an evening snack. They’ll remember you the next time you come to visit them.
Nepal’s fragile eco-system needs your help and support. Being responsible tourist may be a little tough but it is rewarding for your children and the future generations. My tips apply for many such destinations and you can make small efforts in order to save the nature and become a nice human being in process.