Frustrated at the rate the most stunning places on Earth are at threat of deterioration? Here’s what you can do to help…
It can be all too easy to scroll through the #nofilter sunsets and stretches of beaches you see on your Instagram Explore page without a second thought as to how long they’ll stay looking that way.
And who can blame us? Separated by hundreds of miles, a phone screen and little information, it’s hard to put into perspective just how endangered some of these places are.
But while it will take more than rinsing out and recycling that individual wine bottle to reverse their fate, we can all play our part in living in an eco-friendly way through our everyday actions and when visiting places that are in danger.
Here are some of the world’s most incredible places at serious risk of damage, and what we can still do to protect them.
1. Venice, Italy
Breathtaking piazzas, elaborate palaces, ornate cathedrals and romantic gondola rides… Just a few reasons why Venice is an unwaveringly popular choice for a city break.
But despite its staggering beauty, Venice is a prime example of overtourism.
Thanks to the increasingly cheap flights, more and more cruises and often unregulated, affordable accommodation, visitors have soared.
On particularly busy days, tourists more than double the population of the Italian city and massive overcrowding is damaging everything from the city’s infrastructure to its already fragile buildings.
Drastic measures have been taken to protect the city, including fines for everything from wheeling noisy suitcases to littering and swimming in the canals, and even the installation of gates to limit tourist numbers.
Still, the fact remains: around half of visitors just come for the day and walk around seeing the sights while contributing little to the local economy.
So, how can you help? If you’re planning a trip to Venice, visit off season and spend at least a couple of nights in the city, while eating, shopping and drinking in local establishments, to make sure you’re contributing positively to local businesses.
2. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Remember that iconic scene in Noughties film The Beach where Leonardo DiCaprio is taking in the turquoise waters and clear skies as Moby’s ‘Porcelain’ plays?
That setting was the Phi Phi Islands, close to Phuket in Thailand, and it’s almost impossibly idyllic.
We’re talking white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs and lush greenery. But the islands represent a sad example of a surreally beautiful place being destroyed by environmental damage and overtourism.
Maya Bay, the main shooting location for The Beach, has been closed to tourists indefinitely in an attempt to recover from the damage caused by millions of visitors, with the pollution from everyday items such as litter and sun cream killing over 80% of the bay’s coral.
While the rest of the Phi Phi Islands are open to visitors, it’s important to prevent similar damage occurring.
Make sure you’re part of the solution rather than the problem when visiting the Phi Phi Islands.
Avoid littering and take care to avoid using single-use plastic bottles, bags or straws to avoid contaminating the ocean.
3. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef system, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef stretches out for over 1,600 miles and unlike the frequently repeated myth about the Great Wall of China, can actually be seen from outer space.
Visited by million of tourists each year, the reef is home to thousands of fish species, as well as whales, dolphins, turtles and birds.
But the reef is in immense danger, severely affected by climate change, global warming and coral bleaching.
Without drastically cutting down carbon emissions, the situation will worsen irreversibly.
While the situation needs dramatic, large-scale action, we can all play our small part by living in an environmentally friendly way every day.
That means making small changes like walking to work instead of driving, recycling as much as possible and using eco-friendly cleaning products such as Ecover at home.
Its washing-up liquid bottles are made with 100% recycled PCR plastic and the formula is plant-based, using only vegan-friendly ingredients as opposed to fossil fuel-based ingredients (which have been linked to coral bleaching) meaning it’s the cleanest washing-up you’ll ever do.
4. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Like Venice, the picturesque city of Dubrovnik, on the Adriatic, is a very real victim of overtourism.
It’s not just cheap flights, huge cruises full of day-trippers and accommodation apps that are driving mass tourism to the city, but also Game of Thrones, with tens of thousands of fans flocking to see where their favourite series was filmed.
All of the above means that millions of feet traipsing up and down the limestone streets have left their unwelcome mark on the city.
There’s now a cap on the amount of tourists that can visit each day, and in addition to this, if you’re planning a trip to Dubrovnik, you can take extra steps to ensure you’re travelling responsibly.
Visit in the winter or in the shoulder season and spend your money sleeping, eating and shopping in the city for at least a couple of days to make sure you’re helping the local economy.
Protecting the planet starts with the everyday. Switch to Ecover and join the clean world revolution.