Giving back to the places you visit
Film-maker's quest towards sustainable tourism
There are at least three essential items that she never leaves home without - a water bottle, a set of bamboo fork and spoon and a metal straw.
For French-American filmmaker and environmentalist Celine Cousteau, there is no step too small in her quest to protect the environment.
As the ambassador of TreadRight Foundation, part of her mission is the push for sustainable tourism. The foundation provides grants to organisations to encourage sustainability efforts, supports projects like stopping wildlife crime and empowers artisans across the globe.
Caring for the environment is in Ms Cousteau's blood - her own grandfather is none other than the legendary ocean explorer, filmmaker and conservationist Jacques Cousteau. His documentaries opened up a new world for his viewers and he played a big role in campaigning against the underwater dumping of nuclear waste, among others.
Ms Cousteau, 44, told The New Paper in a telephone interview from New York: "The travel industry is so huge that the potential for change is equally as great.
"Beyond thinking of a holiday as 'just a vacation', it is important for us to be aware of what is happening in the places that we go to.
"We have the responsibility to give back to these places. If the ecosystem of a place, its economy and its local community are healthy, the locals benefit and as travellers, we get to enjoy a better experience."
One of the heritage initiative projects that she supports is a weaving co-operative in Perugia, Italy, at Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti.
It is one of the few remaining traditional frame hand weaving workshops in Italy. Antique looms are used and traditional techniques from nearly a century ago are employed.
Through a grant from TreadRight, the cooperative is able to come up with educational tools to increase awareness of the weaving tradition and also explore e-commerce as an avenue for a source of income.
"It's hard to have that integrity of artisanry in a world that doesn't necessarily value the work behind the craft.Through the support, tourists can see for themselves the work that is done in the studio to promote greater appreciation and hopefully, inspire them to purchase the products," said Ms Cousteau.
She advises travellers looking for greener options on vacations to take it one step at a time.
"Do one thing first and see how that affects you. It is important to remember not to feel overwhelmed because then you go back to square one," she said.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
- Support local craft and craftsmen and take a moment to appreciate the work that goes into it.
- Use travel companies that work with organisations to protect the environment. Trafalgar, for example, works very closely with TreadRight.
- Do not support animal attractions that involve the animals doing tricks.
- Check if your airline or travel company provides carbon offsets.