We all love exotic kite holidays, but it’s undeniable that they do come at a cost – the obvious one, for our wallets and the less obvious one, for the environment. Nature has gifted us with strong trade winds, butter flat lagoons and awesome waves to play with and it is our duty to take care of the wonderful environment we live in. Below we’ve listed 5 things we can all do to make our kite holidays more eco-friendly and take better care of the environment.
1. Offset flights
There is an undeniable effect flying has onto the environment. Flights account for 2.5% of the current global CO2 production and these numbers are growing quickly. And while offsetting flights is only a click away with most airlines, something you should note is that paying to offset your carbon emissions doesn’t get rid of the carbon dioxide produced when you fly (that still goes into the atmosphere), it does, however, help reduce the emissions somewhere else which in turns helps lower the global production of CO2. Not all flights produce the same amount of emissions either, so a good first step is choosing to fly economy and opt for a direct flight. Your Co2 footprint will be substantially bigger in business or economy and planes use a lot of fuel for take-off therefor layovers can increase the emissions.
There are two main types of offset project;
- Forestry projects, which either stop existing trees being cut down or plant new ones. Trees use CO2 from the atmosphere to perform photosynthesis thus cleaning the air around them.
- Energy projects, which invest in energy-efficient and renewable energy technology, thus reducing the CO2 production.
A good offset project needs to meet 3 criteria:
- Additionality – the project wouldn’t happen without the donations
- No leakage – reducing emissions in one place shouldn’t mean increasing them somewhere else (like transporting trees long distance)
- Permanent – so it won’t be reversed in the future
Most airlines will offer an offset option at check out, but there are also plenty of organisations which will let you offset your flights. When choosing how to offset your flight it is important to look at the accuracy of the calculator (the basic ones only take into account the miles flown, more advanced ones look at aircraft and fuel efficiency too), and the suitability of the offsetting programme.
At Vayu and at Kitesurfing Lanka we can help you offset your flights with our Kite Green Initiative where we focus on planting mangrove trees which not only clean the CO2 from the air with photosynthesis but also contain the CO2 present in the soil with their roots.
2. Ocean friendly sunscreen
There are two main types of sunblock available – chemical and mineral, and in recent years, concerns have arisen about the safety of the ingredients used – for humans and marine life alike. Sunscreen gets (at least in part) absorbed by your skin potentially harming your body, and what doesn’t get absorbed, runs off your skin and disperses in the water potentially harming the coral reefs and other marine life. Even if you don’t swim after applying sunscreen, it can go down drains when you shower.
We recommend avoiding spray sunscreen ant to always check the ingredients label on your sunblock before buying and avoid products containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene, avobenzone or nano-particles. A more eco-friendly sunblock is a mineral-based sunblock with non-nano particles and we recommend using hats and rash guards to minimise your sunblock needs.
Check out this article to learn more about eco-friendly sunblocks and how to protect yourself from the sun in a way that also protects the coral and other local wildlife to sustain the ecosystem and fishing industries of this area.
3. Chemical & plastic-free toiletries
All chemicals and unpronounceable words at the back of your shampoo bottle end up in our waterways. If that wasn’t concerning enough, almost all toiletries come in single-use plastic packaging and are thrown away once emptied. While DIY toothpaste and shampoo aren’t for everyone, we encourage you to look into more eco-friendly alternatives (like chewing pastilles and shampoo blocks) with less plastic packaging and more natural ingredients. Or at the very least, stir away from toiletries in the small ‘travel’ packaging and opt for the family doses. You can always reuse the small empty shampoo bottle and pour it in from the maxi pack when needed.
4. Plastic-free packing
This point applies not only to the toiletries already discussed above but to everything else as well – from your suitcase choice to packing cubes and how you chose to store your dirty laundry. Plastic and synthetics are the norm these days but we encourage you to rethink your choices, opt for natural materials when buying new bags and recycle or reuse what you can. You could DIY a packing cube from an old towel for example.
Once in Sri Lanka, most of the purchases will be presented to you in plastic bags, please make it a habit to say no to the bag and carry whatever you buy in your own shopping bags! If you don’t have a bag handy, get one from our Kite Shop. There are different types of tote bags made from old kites and old jeans by the family who runs the kite repair shop. By purchasing one of these bags you will not only support the environment but the local industry as well.
5. Reusable water bottle and water filter
Both KSL and Vayu provide unlimited locally-sourced filtered water and clean drinking bottles in all rooms and dining areas for you to fill as you please. However, please do bring your own reusable bottle from home for all tours and trips, as Sri Lanka’s waste system is largely depending on people burning the
bottles the tourists buy everywhere else, along with the other garbage.
Most of us already own and use a refillable water bottle on the daily, however, tap water in most parts of Asia isn’t suitable for drinking and the plastic bottles are presenting a major environmental problem. What not everyone realises is that most cities have water dispensers on the streets where you can safely refil your bottle. When you travel to more remote areas w encourage you to consider buying a life straw or a nano filter water bottle to minimise your need for bottled water. You can also ask any ho(s)tel or restaurant to fill your bottle up with filter water.
Bonus: help in local cleanups.
Most turistic areas in Asia organise the occasional beach and street clean up. More often than not they’re run by tourist or local businesses owned by foreigners. We encourage you to join them and help out whenever you can or do it on your own pace – just take a reusable bag with you next time you go to the beach and collect the washed-up plastic.
We run regular beach clean-ups at both camps and we’d love it if you’d join us in these efforts! On top of that, rubbish bags and gloves are always available if you’d like to do a little clean on your own.
We’ve been gifted with seas and wind which are essential for a good kitesurfing session and it is our duty to preserve the oceans and help them heal while taking care of the nature surrounding us. What are some of the things you do to protect the environment around you?