How to spend the New Year’s Eve Sustainably

It is October and it is high time to get the last seat on the plane to an amazing place to spend the New Year’s Eve. Most of us want to have a blast by partying in an exotic location dressed in the best dress. Google the best places to party for New Year’s Eve and you’ll come across New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney, Goa and so many amazing places. But there are others who prefer to welcome the New year silently in the comforts of their own homes or city, some visit a national park or cycle around while others spend it sustainably.

How many of us know that United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development? With the rise of international travelers from 674 million in 2000 to almost double – 1.2 billion in 2015, sustainable tourism needs to be the priority of all of us.

Luckily there are a serious bunch of travelers who are trying to keep the environmental impact to minimum while still having an amazing time. These committed sustainable travelers are keeping the carbon footprint down while exploring the world and connecting with various cultures. Here are their recommendations/experiences on How to Spend the New Year’s Sustainably which may help you in planning the right kind of ‘party’.

Eco-friendly Accommodation/ Ecotel

From Sara Alexis of The Life of a Solivagant

As a person who considers herself a responsible traveler, when I am looking into trips in general I try to find accommodations and activities that are sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical. Booking a trip for New Years is no different. I am currently looking into spending New Years in Cambodia and the first thing I did was looked to find eco-friendly and/or sustainable hotels. Before anything else, I think this is the most important and easiest thing to do. Simply by googling ‘sustainable hotels in Cambodia’ I was able to pull up a list of them.

The main focus here is to find something that either gives back to the community, is environmentally friendly, or run by locals. It’s as easy as that. And the easiest way to find out is to go the website of the hotel and if they don’t have a page specifically on their sustainable efforts, they tend to outline what they do in their ‘About Us’ section. You can do this for any country you are traveling to. Whatever else I end up doing for New Years, at least I will know I am spending it in a hotel that participates in responsible tourism, if nothing else. But of course, there will always be ethical tours to look into, run by locals/community, and other such sustainable tourism to participate in. But one thing at a time when it comes to planning. ( Green Leaf Boutique, was the best sustainable hotel I found in Siem Reap).

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Sustainable Travel by Bicycle

From Carolina Nordfors of Velovelo

Reducing your carbon footprint involves making sacrifices, but not when it comes to traveling. By choosing a slow way to travel you will actually maximize your experience while saving the planet. Let’s call it a win win. Instead of doing a world trip with fixed destinations pinned on a map and relying on cars, buses, trains and airplanes to get me there I am traveling on my bicycle. I am free to go wherever I want and stop when I feel like it, and that’s the beauty of it. I am now exploring the countries I visit and reach destinations so far away from the guidebook that the locals look really surprised to see me coming.

As I travel this way I am realizing how much I have missed on previous trips. Arriving at the airport, catch a taxi to a hotel and from there start to explore a destination and look for great places off the beaten track is not the way to do it. It usually means that you will just beat that track a bit more. What I have learnt in the past year is that, when going slow on a bike to a destination you will probably find at least ten great places before you reach the goal, some of them will even be better than the destination itself. When not distancing yourself from the world outside in a car or bus you will also be in contact with the nature and people as you go.

This for me is the greatest experience. To meet local people who are warm, welcoming and very curious. This kind of interaction you will have to sacrifice when burning more fossil fuel when travel.

So why not kick start next year with a sustainable journey? Remember, the bicycle is a simple solution to very complicated problems. Make it a new years resolution!

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Spending new year's eve sustainably

Volunteer for Wildlife Protection

From Jennifer Riley of The Rainbow Route

The more my wife and I travel, the less satisfied we are with trips for the sake of vacation or adventure. As we have seen more of the world, we have realised that we are global citizens who need to nurture the places we visit. There’s no doubt that travel leaves a considerable carbon footprint, so we have become more conscious about using sustainable products and researching ethical tourism before each trip.

For our upcoming trips to the island of Maui, we wanted to help with maintaining the natural beauty that people come to Hawaii to see. After our first trip, where we saw beaches littered with cigarette butts and turtles with huge cancerous tumours, we knew we had to do something more than just lie on the beach and complain. Maui has several volunteer opportunities available to tourists. This year, we will be helping protect turtle nests at night as well as working with Maui Cultural Lands whose aim is to protect and restore Hawaiian cultural resources. Giving back in this way adds a sense of purpose to our travels and helps us feel more connected to the lands we are visiting.

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Spending new year's eve sustainably

Responsible Accommodation

From Ellie Cleary of Soul Travel Blog

Dreaming of escaping to somewhere exotic for New Year? Bohol, Philippines might just be the perfect Island getaway. Unfortunately The Philippines has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons of late. But across the ocean and miles away from Manila, lush Bohol is quiet, peaceful, and perhaps the closest the Philippines has come to eco-friendly tourism. Set just 3 hours ferry ride from Cebu, Bohol delicately strikes that balance of being accessible, without being too accessible.

During my time there last winter, I was lucky enough to stay at Amorita Resort. Amorita is a luxury, boutique, eco resort that takes its environmental impact and responsibility very seriously. When the resort was developed, instead of causing trees and vegetation to be cut down (as is usually the case for resort development), Amorita was designed around nature, to make the most of the naturally stunning setting. From locally produced and organic products in the rooms, to local recycling awareness days for the staff and their families the resort is doing a lot to give back. They are the ONLY resort to have a waste water treatment system in that area of Bohol – which speaks volumes. Gazing out from Amorita’s infinity pool over the Pacific Ocean as the sky turns pink, while knowing that the resort is doing good, is a feeling not to be missed.

Away from the hotel you can experience the beautiful ecosystem of the Abatan River (I recommend avoiding the very touristic Luboc river cruise which most standard island tours include) and instead support local NGO Process Bohol who are using proceeds from tourism to help fund conservation, spread local awareness of the need to protect the environment, and to train local villagers to become kayak guides. You can even go with them to see the evening fireflies.

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Spending new year's eve sustainably

Living sustainably as a New Year’s Resolution

From Nuraini Arsad of Teja on the Horizon

We have such busy lives. It can be hard to pause, find time to take a breath, and space to reflect. Frequent travel doesn’t really help with that.

Isn’t it great then, that a New Year tends to be associated with looking back at what has been, and then looking ahead with resolve? That there usually is space to do that in, with work typically winding down to a lull?

There’s a sustainability habit that I began some years ago, to take advantage of this time and this mood. I figured since I would likely think back on my year, and invariably on my travels too, I could easily do this at the same time to reflect on my carbon debt, and do my carbon offset.

I personally do this at Terrapass, for reasons that I explain here.

For flights, all I need are the departure and arrival airports. For my car, I’d pull out the maintenance record which shows the mileage, and then pro-rate an estimated mileage for the year for my car’s model. And I’d make a best guess for other travel. Do at least this if you’re a frequent traveller, since this will form the lion’s share of your personal emissions.

As the website is US-centric, for home emissions I’d choose an equivalent proxy location for the calculation. Although I have my electricity bills, which note the amount consumed, the location provides the type of power generation. I usually use Florida zip code on the basis that it’s similar in climate to Malaysia and uses predominantly fossil fuel power generation.

Give it a try! It surprisingly costs relatively little to pay your debt – negligible compared to what you’ve spent on the holiday!

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Spending new year's eve sustainably


Ethical Wildlife Tourism

From Michelle of MichWanderlust

“One simple thing you can do is research your destination or intended activity before you go, especially when it comes to wildlife tourism.

For example, you’re an avid diver and your ultimate goal is to see sharks. You’ve heard that whale shark sightings are guaranteed in Oslob, Philippines. Sounds good, right?

Not really. A quick Google search of “whale sharks Oslob” (as of 4 October 2017) will turn up at least 3 results on the first page listing the reasons why you shouldn’t swim with whale sharks in Oslob. For example, many have sustained injuries from coming too close to the boats. And staying there all year long will affect their migration, and possibly, reproduction patterns.

A bit more Googling about ethical shark dives will reveal ethical alternatives right there in the Philippines, like Donsol.

Another great example of ethical shark tourism in the Philippines is Malapascua. There are very strict rules in place to protect the sharks. Moreover, a portion of the diving proceeds goes to a fund set up to protect and conserve the sharks and the reef.

In this way, you get to enjoy these majestic creatures without hurting anybody.

Across the Pacific Ocean, another example is found in Amazonian port towns where you can cuddle a sloth, dance with an anaconda, or pose with a giant anteater. A bit of background knowledge on animal welfare should immediately set alarm bells off. As a good rule of thumb, when a wildlife encounter crosses the line from observation to interaction, it’s bad for the animals.

Don’t worry, though. Even if you have no luck spotting them in the wild, you can still see these beautiful animals in rescue centers and sanctuaries. Just make sure they’re accredited and reputable.

In Ecuador, I can recommend Amazoonico Rescue Center. The Ministry of Environment sends them confiscated animals and they try to rehabilitate and release them. However, they receive no government funding. They charge a small admission fee, but throw in a free guided tour. If you ask me, that’s money well-spent!

So just take a few minutes before you go anywhere and do some Googling. The animals and the environment will thank you.”

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Spending new year's eve sustainably

Reducing carbon footprint by Overland Travel

From Maria Aardal of Both-Paths Travelers

Traveling overland is a great way to travel, however it is often overlooked. Traveling overland is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of flying from place to place you travel by local transport such as bus, train and maybe even hitchhiking. Overland travel is sustainable not only because of the positive side for the environment, but also because you support local businesses. It is great to travel and be able to support the locals at the places you travel.

Earlier this year we traveled for 1.5 months in Southeast Asia. We only traveled overland, and it was an amazing experience. While it can be tiring at times, we never regretted it. You get to see the country from a completely different side of a country. When you take local busses and trains you do not only see the touristy spots and the highlights. You also get to see the hidden secrets of a country. You get to see the beautiful countryside. Local transport is also a great way to meet locals. Meeting locals should be a bigger part of traveling than it is today. Is there really any better way to see a country than through the eyes of a local?

As travelers it is our responsibility to travel without causing damage. As traveling is becoming such a huge part of the world, it is important that sustainable traveling gets more attention. Traveling is amazing, and it can open your entire world. It is a incredible way for bringing attention to the positives and negatives of the world. However it also opens for a dark marked. It is our responsibility that we do not encourage that.

Overland traveling is a very different way of traveling, and it is something every traveler should experience.

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Volunteering with NGO

From Ketki of Explore with Ecokats

Local NGOs in your own city give a variety of options to sustainably spend the New Year’s Eve. I chose to volunteer with an NGO in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, India for picking up garbage along the hiking route where tourists came to party. As shocking as it was to see the amount of waste generated along the way, the repeated requests to dispose garbage in designated areas fell on deaf ears of trekkers. I picked and packed the garbage as explained by the NGO staff.

It was a liberating experience for me as i did something good for the environment instead of spending money in a fancy club. I plan to continue doing the same with other NGOs located in various places.

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Spending new year's eve sustainbly

34 thoughts on “How to spend the New Year’s Eve Sustainably

  1. It is important that we think about sustainability even when we are celebrating. The last few years, my husband and I have just celebrated at home with a special home-cooked meal.

    1. We have been doing the same. May be a small get-together with friends is all that is needed to get the party started 🙂

  2. This is so interesting and such a good read. Sustainability is something I will definitely be looking at for all my next travels and to see where I can make a difference.

  3. Awesome stories! I’m thinking of volunteering somewhere next year as part of my travel plans, so I can do some good as well as gathering experiences abroad:) Loads of these stories bring up points that I hadn’t even thought of before, so thanks for bringing them to our attention:)

  4. I have been in a few eco-resorts but tbh, there is not that much offter out there. In that case I was staying at a National Park in Costa Rica, and it was the nicest place out there. Anyway, I have found that places in Asia, and I am thinking Thailand, abuse of the use of plastic. They give you a plastic bag even with a drink! I think that even though eco tourism should be way more common, putting pressure in other countries to reduce their waste would be a much more effective way to improve the earth’s life,,, My opinion only…

  5. Wow is 2017 already almost over? Can’t believe it. Sustainable travel is one of my passions so I’m happy to have come across this post. I try to travel sustainably by refusing plastics whenever humanly possibly (I carry around my own containers/bottles/cutlery), traveling slowly and avoiding flights when possible, get around by foot or bicycle, shop local, and volunteer on organic farms. We recently volunteered in Bali doing natural building with cob! There are so many ways to learn for free through work exchange programs.

    1. That’s so nice to know Lianne that more and more travelers are taking the sustainable option. Good to know about your efforts and hope you continue the same 🙂

  6. What a fantastic post! I love that you are helping people to think and see how their travel affects the world we live in. And also that you are bringing awareness to conscious travel including animal welfare. Also something I wish we could do more of is slow travel. So many benefits! We’ll get there one day.

  7. I’m one of the person who don’t know that the UN has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Unfortunately we still have to travel with plane whenever we visited my family in Indonesia. But I love my hybrid that took us here and there in the US.

  8. I really like the idea of traveling by bike. I’m not sure if it really has any impact after I have traveled to the destination by plane, but I like the thought of slow exploration of any destination. And bike is a perfect vehicle to doing that.

  9. Such great thoughts shared. For sure if we want to enjoy the nature for years we have to be more conscious of our actions. I got some great ideas which i would try on my next travel. Thanks for sharing and for all your efforts in sustaining the environment.

  10. I hope more and more people will look into how they can travel more responsible and reward the “green places”. Many good advices. I just realized that we are soon ending this year.. this is so crazy.. still dont know what I am going to do on new year eve..

  11. Thank you so much for this article- it’s such an important topic and something that needs to be highlighted. I could not agree more with you in relation to the points made here about ethical and sustainable animal tourism in particular. For me personally the turning point in wanting to make sure my travels contributed to a responsible and ethical wildlife experience came after a visit to the amazing Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai and learning how elephants spirits are broken to be used in logging or tourism. You’re right to point out how important it is to preserve, and not destroy, through travel.

  12. Awesome post – I did hear that the UN designated this year as the international year of sustainable travel, which I think is great. Unfortunately slow travel isn’t always possible for those who work full time jobs and have few vacation days each year, but slow travel is definitely a great way to reduce your carbon footprint if you’re able to do it. I would love to go to the Philippines and stay at Amorita for NYE – it looks so peaceful and beautiful.

  13. I absolutely love the suggestions on this. I am going to look into this for next year. Its something we all need to consider. I am heading Cuba for new years as its been a dream, and looking to help families there.

  14. I could not agree more that more needs to be done for sustainability and how better than to start now. New Year’s resolutions rarely make it past January, but if there is one that should, it is changing lifestyle to help others. If I could, Slow travel is a way I would try, and I also will look into better accommodation options going forward.

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