I’ve had the good fortune to vacation in Turkey twice, so when British travel company Thomson offered to collaborate on a post about reducing plastic pollution in the seas around Turkey, I jumped at the chance. I’ve traveled all over the world, but Turkey remains a highlight of the places I’ve visited. In part, that’s because the historical sites there are so fascinating. But also, the country’s gorgeous natural environment is hard to beat. For me and many people, a holiday in Turkey is all about the sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking mountain views. The waters around the country include the Aegean, Black, and Mediterranean Seas, perfect for sailing, diving, swimming and boating. But they’re also susceptible to human impacts. Here are some of the steps I took to minimize my personal impact on beautiful Turkey.
At the Beach, Skip the Plastics, Stow the Trash
No one intends to litter at a beach! But because it’s usually somewhat windy, and because a lot of trash is so light, plastic, paper, water bottles, drink cans, and other rubbish can easily get blown or washed into the sea. I managed to avoid a lot of this by taking a trash bag with me and putting the trash in it rather than let it pile up or try to stuff it in trash cans that were already overloaded. I also had a water bottle with a water filter on it, so I could avoid buying throwaway plastic water bottles. I brought food in reusable cloth bags to avoid using flimsy plastic bags or mesh produce bags that could get blown into the sea. It was no hassle and made me feel like I was doing my part to make a difference.
When it comes to wildlife, I kept two important points in mind. One, when buying souvenirs, I avoided those made from marine life such as coral, shark, and turtles. If these animals are dead on a store shelf or in a street kiosk, it means they were killed just so they could be sold to tourists! Isn’t it better to enjoy them in their natural habitat, and in souvenir books? Two, when in the water, I avoided interfering with marine wildlife of any size. No rocks, coral, or shells still occupied by the animals that made them ended up in my suitcase when I headed home. As the saying goes, take only pictures, leave only footprints.
I generally tried to choose a hotel as close as possible to the sites I visited so that getting to them was easy to do on foot. This way, I avoided having to hire cars, taxis, or other vehicles to move around, which saved me some money as well as reduced my carbon footprint.
This year, millions of us will be traveling. Maybe we’ll go as far afield as Turkey, or maybe we’ll enjoy a “staycation” closer to home. Wherever we go, we can make a difference by being responsible about how we travel and what we do when we get there.