Whether you’re out to see the haunted places of Nevada or experience the rustic beach life in the Philippines, there’s no better way to see the beauty of the world than traveling.
It’s one thing to see pictures of the captivating landscape nature has to offer and another thing to behold it with your very eyes. But the magnificence is sometimes diminished because what was supposed to be an iridescent paradise shown in photos is littered with plastic bottles, used straws, and cigarette butts in reality. The place is now a sight for sore eyes but the photos would say otherwise. Why?
The rise of Instagram also gave rise to subtle-but-overly-edited photos of the generation. Masterful Photoshoppers can smoothen out wrinkles, get rid of double chins, minimize waists, and, yes, edit out unwanted trash in photos.
Travel blogger Kimi Juan has since called out this epidemic with an unedited photo paired with the following caption:
“This photo seems nice; good light[ing], good framing. It was everything I had imagined this shot would look like when I asked my husband to take it, but the closer you look the more you will notice the little pieces of plastic around me that seem almost camouflaged in nature that you can barely notice it. I decided not to clone them out because this is the reality of it. Even in the most remote places, you will find little bits of plastic from candy wrappers to cigarette butts. Just a reminder to pick up after yourself, the world is not a big garbage bin. Keep our islands and our oceans clean.”
Social media is plagued with the problem of manufactured projections of realities that don’t exist. To get more likes and more followers, we’re illusioned into the idea that the photo free of blemishes will help us achieve that goal. Travel photos are strategically taken with the nicest backdrop and anomalies like random strangers and litter in the background are simply edited out.
This act of removal contributes to the misinformation of the pollution crisis the world is facing today. The fabrication of a plastic-free paradise is no longer a reality with plastic choking the life out of marine creatures.
Pollution is a global but solvable threat and a way to spread awareness is to show the reality of the world’s state. So here is my plea: stop editing trash out of your photos when you travel. Show your followers what you really saw, trash and all.
By posting true-to-life pictures, social media becomes a truthful avenue that provides new perspectives on different phenomena along with information from other sources.
Take your social media advocacy to your everyday life. To preserve the world for the coming generations, here are additional things you can do to minimize pollution when traveling.
1. Clean Up The Trash You See
To make an even bigger impact, don’t be a bystander and leave the trash lying around. Better yet, pick it up and dispose of them properly.
The Earth is a delicate planet and improper waste disposal contaminates all of its resources which the Earth’s inhabitants–plants, animals, and people–need to survive. Participating in clean up drives can also help solve the pollution crisis.
Picking up after yourselves (and others) is one small step to having a pollution-free world.
2. Go Plastic-Free or 100% Recyclable
Countless animals die every day because they unknowingly ingest plastic. More than half of whales, dolphins, and seals are directly affected by the presence of plastic in our oceans.
According to a study in 2019, 100% of dead animals on the coast of the UK had plastic items in their stomachs, which could have contributed to their death. Sea turtles are mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish and are accidentally eating them. This causes blockages within their digestive system and eventual death.
Going plastic-free is not an easy feat but it can be done with much effort. To start, pack your items using reusable or recyclable bags. Another way to reduce plastic consumption is by bringing your own water bottle, reusable straws, and metal cutlery when going on a trip.
If going plastic-free is not a feasible option, strive for 100% recyclable items like bamboo toothbrushes.
3. Quit Smoking
Save the environment and improve your health by killing your smoking habit. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and contain extremely toxic soluble chemicals.
One butt thrown on the ground can remain for up to 25 years, leaking chemicals like arsenic, ammonia, acetone, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, and toluene into the environment.
4. Plant More Trees
More and more trees are getting cut down due to deforestation, decreasing the quantity and quality of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Leave your legacy in every place you visit by planting a tree or two in every destination you reach. By planting more trees, we can replenish the ecosystem and improve the air quality we receive.
5. Buy Organic Products
Buying organic products promotes sustainability over the long term. Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy and contributes to alleviating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to remove carbon in the soil.
6. Follow the “Leave No Trace” Principle
An important rule in traveling is the Leave No Trace principle. Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics and consists of seven things:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Taking care of nature is an obligation to each of us. We must respect nature and care to remember we are merely visitors.
7. Avoid Flying
Traveling by bus, train, or ship has less of a negative environmental impact than flying. Air travel accounts for 2.5% of global carbon emissions. Taking a long flight creates more carbon emissions than the average person produces in a whole year.
8. Hang Dry
Skip the dryer and use a clothesline when you’re traveling. Air-drying your clothes can reduce carbon footprint by up to 2,300 pounds a year.
Global-scale problems like pollution won’t be solved overnight. By making these necessary lifestyle changes, people can be inspired by your advocacy and take part in them as well, creating a larger impact in preserving the environment.
By saving the world through sustainability, we can save ourselves and future generations to come.