The Impact of Tourism on Global Waste - Soulful Concepts
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-363902,single-format-gallery,eltd-cpt-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,moose-ver-1.1.1, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,blog_installed,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.10.0,vc_responsive

The Impact of Tourism on Global Waste

  • the-impact-of-tourism-on-global-waste
  • the-impact-of-tourism-on-global-waste
  • the-impact-of-tourism-on-global-waste

Tourism has enjoyed a steady comeback since COVID-19 dramatically brought operations to a halt just four years ago. While this is good news for travellers seeking out the world’s wonders, it’s decidedly less so for the environment. 

The impact of tourism on global waste from tourist activities are leading drivers of climate change, prompting the need to balance wanderlust with eco-consciousness. How much of an impact do travel and tourism have on sustainability and how big of a role do you play in its mitigation? 


Waste Is a Global Worry 


The economic advantages of tourism are undeniable. In 2023, the sector made up 9.1% of the global GDP, recording a 23.2% increase from the year before. 

Nevertheless, aligning this growth with responsible waste management practices is imperative. The hospitality sector alone, including hotels and restaurants, produces more than 35 million tons of solid waste annually. Disposing and treating this waste generates methane and other harmful greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. 

With millions of people travelling to various destinations every year, the impact of these emissions grows exponentially. 

Tourism-generated waste comes from a variety of sources. The most common you should be mindful of when globetrotting include:


Food Waste


You have limited access to cooking and storage facilities when on holiday, so there’s likely to be lots of leftovers thrown away. Sometimes, you might be trying out a local dish but discover you don’t like the taste, so the meal is promptly discarded. Simple things like these add up and greatly contribute to food waste in landfills and dump sites today. Overall, the tourism industry is responsible for upwards of 9% of global food waste, including 79,000 tonnes generated by hotels worldwide. 


Plastic Waste 


The amount of plastic waste generated by tourist activities is just appalling — 8 million tonnes of plastic pollute the ocean every year as more and more people flock to coastal areas. Unlike other materials, plastic is not biodegradable, resulting in environmental pollution and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Several cities have devised innovative ways to keep their beaches clean, such as placing recycling vending machines to encourage holidaying people to recycle their plastic and other inorganic waste. While it’s a step in the right direction, the expected change is not happening quickly enough, as evidenced by the growing piles of plastic trash everywhere you look. 


Destination Waste


This refers to the combination of waste left behind at popular tourist destinations. For example, Mount Everest, which is supposed to be a global marvel, has now earned the unfortunate title of the “world’s highest garbage dump” due to the trash buildup. Climbers indiscriminately discard their oxygen cylinders, camping equipment and single-use plastics, creating destination waste that makes the once-pristine landscape an eyesore. 


5 Tips for Limiting Your Tourism Waste 


The average individual produces 0.74 kilograms of waste daily, which could significantly increase while on holiday. Being an eco-conscious tourist can help curb this waste generation and minimise the environmental impact. These five handy tips can help you do just that.


1. Travel Light


Pack only the essentials so you have fewer things to discard when you reach your destination. Choose versatile clothing, like jeans and sweaters, which can adapt to any situation. If you must buy more stuff upon arrival, ensure they’re sustainably sourced and properly disposed of after usage. 


2. Steer Clear of Single-Use Plastics


Most items you’ll come across when travelling will likely contain single-use plastic — toothbrushes, water bottles, straws, cutlery and packaging. It is far more sustainable to bring your own items so you can reuse them as often as needed during your trip. Alternatively, you could switch to eco-friendly materials like bamboo or metal straws and cutlery to minimise your dependence on plastic.


3. Use Less Water


In addition to bringing along a reusable water bottle, try to limit how much water you use on your travels. Natural resource conservation remains a huge environmental challenge and the last thing you want to do is derail any current mitigation efforts with your actions. 

Instead, look for ways to minimise your usage. For instance, spending less time in the shower while on holiday can save five gallons of water or even more, depending on how well you can manage the available supply. 


4. Research Local Recycling Culture


Discarding an item is sometimes unavoidable, but that’s no reason to dump it in the nearest garbage dump. Take some time to research the recycling culture in that area and see if your waste can be recycled rather than end up in landfills or worse, bobbing up and down the ocean surface. 

The easiest option is to book an eco-friendly hotel, as these establishments tend to have up-to-date information on the recycling situation in the area and even have their own designated bins. 


5. Be Mindful of Your Consumption


If you’re visiting a place for the first time and are excited to try out the local food, be mindful of how much you order at first. You might not like it, so there’s no reason to make a large order and let it all go to waste. If possible, ask the restaurant for a sample to be sure the dish agrees with your palate before placing your order. 

Hotels and restaurants are under immense pressure to limit their carbon footprint by 66% before 2030 to maintain sustainability in the industry. Being a mindful consumer will go a long way in achieving this goal. 



Balancing Global Waste and Sustainable Tourism


The increased consumption and disposal of products by tourists lead to substantial waste, which strains local waste management systems and the environment. When you go on your next holiday, be sure to have the time of your life, but spare a thought for how your activities contribute to global waste.

Author: Jack Shaw, senior writer for Modded Magazine, has spent over six years writing advice for seeing as much of the world as possible. Writings about his experiences and favourite destinations can be found in Travel Magazine, Trekaroo, and more. Reach him via LinkedIn with inquiries.



No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.