When the Conquistadors first arrived in Mexico, they were not responsible travelers. They destroyed local cultures, spread diseases, and exploited rather than helped the local people.
Today, you have a choice. You can be like the Conquistadors and leave behind a trail of debris and destruction. Or, you can choose to minimize your carbon footprint and maximize your contribution to the local community and environment.
When you visit Mexico, you spend money there. This helps to boost the Mexican economy in three ways: direct, indirect, and induced.
When you pay for a tour, pay to enter an attraction, or pay to stay in a hotel, you’re making a direct contribution to the Mexican economy. Your money enables the hotel to pay wages to its staff and generates profit for its owners.
The hotel will buy food ingredients from a local farmer and uniforms from a local clothing manufacturer, so this is your indirect contribution to the Mexican economy. And the hotel workers paid from your direct contribution will be able to pay their rent and buy food from local businesses, thus providing an induced contribution.
However, not all the money you spend will benefit the local economy because of leakage. For example, if the hotel is owned by a global corporation, the profits generated from your stay will end up overseas. The hotel might import its furniture, linens, and uniforms, so the indirect contribution does not benefit the local economy. Also, you may see trinkets for sale in gift shops as souvenirs of your visit to Mexico. If you check the labels, you may find they were “made in China”.
How to be more economically responsible
If you want to ensure that the money you spend in Mexico stays in Mexico, make better decisions about where to spend your money.
Instead of staying in an international chain hotel, head for a smaller, locally-owned hotel. Instead of eating at MacDonald’s and drinking a coffee at Starbucks, choose a family-owned restaurant or café. And choose items from the menu that you know are sourced locally, such as exotic local fruits and locally produced wines.
To truly maximize your contribution to the local economy, look out for local businesses that state they source their raw materials locally. Join tours run by businesses that employ local people and aim to source any merchandise they use from other local businesses. It’s even better if the tour company commits to donating part of its income to local not-for-profit and conservation projects as Eco Colors Tours does.
Minimizing your carbon footprint
Mexico’s meadows, forests, seas, and lagoons boast some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. But Mexico’s natural wonders are under threat from increased industrialization and tourism.
In order to minimize the impact of your vacation on the environment, you should choose the transport that is as green as possible. Choose hotels and tour companies that have a clear eco-friendly policy and are involved in recycling waste, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, controlling water use, and protecting the local ecosystem.
Some local tourism companies, such as Eco Colors Tours, do all the hard work for you by ensuring the transport they provide and merchandise they use is as environmentally friendly as possible. Eco Colors has a policy of recycling waste both on its tours and in its offices. They contribute to local environmental projects, such as the coral reefs in Puerto Morelos. And Eco Colors even operates its own wastewater management system and reuses rainwater.
You can make your own personal choices to reduce your environmental impact. When buying snacks, look out for recyclable packaging. Don’t take a taxi if you can walk or cycle. And use a solar panel charger for all your devices instead of plugging into the local power supply.
If you are really dedicated to reducing your impact, you can take a leaf out of Eco Colors’ book and produce your own water. Rather than carrying bottled water on a hike through the wilderness, carry a water filter or purifier. This will enable you to filter and clean local stream water.
You’ve probably seen signs around your local park that say “Don’t feed the birds” or similar. Often, we don’t know the best way to interact with wild animals and can unintentionally cause problems. When you’re headed off to hike in remote regions, talk to local experts about how best to interact with any animal you might encounter.
You can make this easier for yourself by taking along a local guide who knows the forest well. Some tour companies, such as Eco Color Tours, employ local guides from remote villages to ensure you get the best guidance possible. Experts like this can keep you safe and also protect the local wildlife at the same time.
If you’ve ever lived in a tourist town, you’ll know how annoying tourists can be. So, imagine what it’s like for Mayans when a hundred tourists suddenly appear in the middle of their remote village and turn up their noses.
Choose responsible tour providers who are dedicated to promoting tolerance and minimizing the negative socio-cultural impact of tourism. Eco Colors Tours, for example, has helped Mayan communities to benefit rather than suffer from the increased tourism in their areas.
Donations to not-for-profit organizations
After you’ve explored the beautiful countryside and fascinating Aztec ruins, consider helping the local economy and environment even more by making a donation. For example, you could donate money to Plant for the Planet. This not-for-profit organization plans to plant 1,000 million new trees in the Yucatan Peninsula. This ambitious project is sponsored by several concerned local businesses, such as Eco Colors Tours.
You can find out more about local environmental or community projects in Mexico by asking Eco Colors Tours. They have provided help to remote Mayan villages that improve their welfare without damaging the environment. You could help to change lives for the better.
Writer: Jess. firstname.lastname@example.org