Woah – how did it get to be halfway through March already? After I basically skipped out on one of the year’s most depressing months by jetting off halfway around the world, it feels like time has started picking up pace like never before. While it may be almost embarrassingly late, I didn’t want to miss the chance to write this update on my sustainability goals for February and March.
February sustainability round up
I spent half of February in the Philippines (as if I haven’t gone on about it enough already) and this meant a slight twist to my sustainability goals. Certain habits that I’ve ditched at home always seem to rear their heads on holiday and in this sense, I wanted to find a new, less wasteful normal while I’m travelling.
Travel: avoid plastic bags and water bottles
If you don’t know whether tap water is safe to drink, the whole plastic bottle thing can be tricky to avoid while you’re travelling. But as I guzzle water like there’s no tomorrow, it was important that I drastically reduce my plastic consumption during this trip to South East Asia. Luckily, some parts of the Philippines are in the midst of a sustainability drive and this made it easier than anywhere else to ditch single-use plastic.
In some ways, it was easy: I wasn’t given a single plastic bag and our drinks only came with plastic straws once in two weeks. But the biggest game changer was ‘service water’. Similarly to asking for tap water in UK restaurants, in parts of the Philippines they’re happy to provide you with filtered water from their huge cartons in the back if you ask. Some of the more eco-friendly hotels we visited used refillable glass bottles were used instead of plastic: Lio Estate in El Nido even has water dispensers for guests to refill their bottles. Combined with my WaterWell reusable bottle, this definitely reduced the amount of plastic bottles I used throughout my trip. I even picked up a couple of bamboo straws to continue my resolution back in the UK!
Travel: participate in eco-friendly tours
For years, I’d been excited to tick some of the most-do activities in the Philippines off my bucket list and if it could be done sustainably, even better. While it was challenging to find any low-impact tours in some areas, the most important one to get right for me was our whale shark experience.
Oslob is still the most popular and well-promoted destination when it comes to seeing whale sharks in the Philippines because you’re guaranteed sightings every day. However, the reason for this is because they’re fed by the boat operators. This means they don’t have a reason to leave the bay where dozens and dozens of boats are crammed in each day. Looking at all factors, there’s not much ‘wild’ about these encounters and while this would have been a much closer stop on our planned route, I started researching other options and Donsol came up trumps. As home to one of the biggest natural populations of whale sharks between December and May, sightings aren’t guaranteed but when we travelled in February, people had got lucky almost every single day.
Things still aren’t perfect in Donsol: despite regulations that state a maximum of six people should be snorkelling with a whale shark at one time, we witnessed at least 30 people in the water at one point. For this reason, I’m so grateful that we spent a bit of extra money and hired a private boat. Joining us was a research volunteer who was studying whale shark populations and after a couple of these super crowded encounters, she let us know that we could ask the boat to go off alone. So, rather than following the shark being chased by a dozen other boats, we took a chance and headed off into the open sea.
Did we manage to spot another? I’ve got an upcoming blog post all about Donsol so keep your eyes peeled if you want to find out!
My sustainable goal for March 2019
We may be over halfway through March already but I don’t want it to hold me back from trying to make another sustainable change. However, one of the things I really wanted to do this month was cut out ready meals and it just hasn’t gone to plan. What with taking a solid week or so to do a proper food shop after my holiday, I actually relied on supermarket grab ‘n’ go options quite a lot in the first week or so of March and it feels kind of disingenuous to start now.
So this month, forgive me for making just one resolution but I’ll make sure to add an extra one in there later in the year to make up for it – promise.
Lifestyle: find a cleaning product refill station
When Emily and I moved into our flat in November, we stocked up on so many cleaning products that we’re only just coming to the end of our supply right now. Rather than just nipping down to Wilkos (their new eco-friendly range is fab thought), I want to check out a few of the zero waste shops springing up around Liverpool and the Wirral to find sustainable alternatives to buying from supermarkets. I’ve already found one total gem and can’t wait to share it with you at the end of the month!
Thanks for sticking with me so far and let’s hope I can smash my sustainability goal for March!