Category: Responsible Consumption

Reising = selvrealisering

For noen år siden ble jeg i overkant opptatt av turismenæringens utvikling og hvordan reiseliv påvirker både oss mennesker som er så heldige å kunne reise, og de som ikke er like heldige, men som er i kontakt med oss reisende hele tiden.

Tidligere har jeg skrevet mye om temaet på engelsk (ta en titt hvis du vil), men etter å ha bodd i hjemlandet i over ett år nå, er det på høy tid å droddle om det på morsmålet også. Det er dessuten ganske vanskelig å oppdrive norske artikler som handler om reiselivnæringens utvikling og dens påvirkning på verden, ulike samfunn og mennesker. I det hele og det brede fokuseres det pinlig lite på viktigheten av ansvarlig/ etisk turisme i norske reisemagasiner, og på nettsidene til store turoperatører.

Før jeg kommer inn på dette med reiselivs påvirkning, og tilbake til hva konseptet ansvarlig reiseliv handler om, vil jeg i denne artikkelen presentere noen ideer om reising og selvrealisering, inkludert littom hvordan reiseliv har utviklet seg frem til i dag.

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Familien på bildet over, reiste i følge Pinterest, land og strand rundt i 1886 på søken etter et hjemsted i det store – den gang ganske så – ubebodde Amerika. Uten å ane hvordan historien endte for dem, kan jeg bare anta at de fant en flekk å bosette seg på, hvor de selvrealiserte seg etter datidens målestokk.

Hopp hundre år frem i tid, og reising betyr noe ganske annet for de fleste av oss. I Nord-Amerika som i store deler av Europa, var det å reise i 1986 forbundet med ferie og rekreasjon, gjerne til solfylte steder i mangelen på eget godt klima.

Hopp tredve år til frem i tid, til dagens Norge og nordlige Europa forøvrig, og vi forbinder reising med et velfortjent – og ganske selvsagt – gode. Det å ta fri fra livet vi vanligvis lever og reise vekk, er noe vi mener vi både fortjener og trenger, og noe mange av oss ser på som nødvendig for vår menneskelige utvikling og utfoldelse.

Med andre ord; reising = selvrealisering. Uten å gå videre inn på en høna og egget-tankerekke, la meg bare nevne at markedsaktørene selvfølgelig har blitt dyktige på å fortelle oss nettopp det.

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Det skal sies at vi nordmenn er havnet i en eksepsjonelt heldig situasjonen ved å ha retten på fem ferieuker (!) i året – samme hvilken sektor vi jobber i. Og enten vi snakker om ferieturer vi tar i løpet av de ukene, helgeturer til europeiske storbyer et par timers flytur unna, eller en lenge etterlengtet permisjon eller ryggsekktur vi har spart til i månedsvis,  så er poenget at mange i dagens Norge ser på reising som nødvendig for at vi skal kunne ha det bra i livet ellers.

En litt fiffig tanke er forøvrig at korte storbyturer ikke engang ses på som ferie lenger; de er bare turer vi tar på søken etter et avbrekk i en ellers hektisk hverdag. Og sånn har det nok vært en stund i land der folks privatøkonomi er god og markedet er tilrettelagt slik at vi kan reise ganske langt på veldig kort tid.

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Etter min oppfatning har altså det å se, oppleve og spise noe annet enn vi gjør her hjemme blitt like selvsagt som det er mulig for oss. Men hvordan kom vi hit?

Reising har naturligvis blitt regnet som viktig for menneskets velvære og selvrealisering i århundrer, men dens internasjonale utfoldelse var kun forbeholdt de rikeste i samfunnet frem til 1950-tallet. Da var oppfinnelsene av såkalte turbovifte-jetfly blitt en realitet; fly som bragte mange mennesker over landegrenser og hav på én og samme flyvning.

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photo credit: http://www.hiwtc.com

På samme tid hadde arbeiderbevegelsens kamper i Nord begynt å gi frukter som bedre lønninger og ferieavløsninger for folk flest, og slik fikk stadig flere råd til å reise på romantiske byferier i Sør-Europa, for ikke å snakke om pakketurer til Syden. I løpet av 70- og 80-tallet fortsatte reisendes muligheter å eksplodere i omfang, og etterhvert dro de litt modigere til og med på lengre ryggsekkturer til mer eksotiske land som India og Thailand, til slektningers store forundring.

Tredve år etter er det heller uvanlig at ikke (nord)europeere har vært utenfor Europa minst én gang i livet. De fleste 25-åringer jeg kjenner – for ikke å nevne 45-åringer – har besøkt mer enn ett sted mormora mi aldri visste fantes. De aller fleste jeg kjenner har til og med tatt seg et halvår eller år fri fra jobb for å tråle Sørøst-Asia rundt på jakt etter slitne bungalower og ville strandfester.

I tillegg har mange jobbet frivillig både i Bolivia og Sri Lanka, forelsket seg minst én gang i en latinamerikaner, ridd kameler i Egypt, danset med Masaier i Kenya, paraglided i Nepal og sist men ikke minst: giftet seg utenlands.

photo credit: nomad.sleepout.com

photo credit: nomad.sleepout.com

Kort oppsummert har min generasjon av nordeuropeere (og mange nordamerikanere), vokst opp med den klokkeklare forestilling om at verden ligger for våre føtter. Og det er sant. For oss. Dagens selvutviklingsvaluta nummer én er reising, atter mer reising og én tur til. Til og med indre reiser bedriver vi stadig nå til dags, fordi vi hele tiden higer etter å utvikle oss som mennesker.

Hvorfor?

Fordi vi kan, og fordi vi blir fortalt at vi kan. I disse sosiale medier- tider har du kanskje lagt merke til at vi i det hele tatt ofte blir fortalt at vi reise…?

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Personlig er jeg skyldig i å ha vokst opp, for ikke å si bygget videre på, den nevnte forestilling. Dette til tross for at de fleste i min familie – med unntak av moren min – ikke har reist stort lenger enn til europeiske destinasjoner, med kanskje én og annen tilbakelagt USA-tur en gang i tiden.

Interessant nok er forresten noen av de jeg kjenner som har reist minst, de som har sterkest meninger om hvordan verden henger sammen; et tema jeg tok opp for en stund siden. Hvorvidt folk som reiser ekstensivt egentlig lærer så veldig mye om verden, kan også i aller høyeste grad diskuteres; noe jeg skriver en tekst om etter mitt nylige møte med backpackere som flokker seg sammen hvor enn man beveger seg i Sørøst-Asia… Mer om det senere en annen dag, altså.

Men tilbake til de som reiser mye. Visste du for eksempel at nordmenn flyr mest i Europa? Jepp. Nordmenn har et særs heldig utgangspunkt samme hvor vi kommer fra i landet, og kanskje nettopp derfor har vi utviklet et spesielt verdensbilde hva økonomiske muligheter angår. Reising som gode – og spesielt med fly – anses nok derfor for mange av oss som kommet for å bli.

Like fullt er det viktig å minnes på at konseptet reising er en usannsynlig luksus for de aller fleste på kloden. Skal man tro organisasjonen Atmosfair, har kun 5% av klodens befolkning vært ombord på et fly, hvilket setter reiseluksusen vi tar helt for gitt i perspektiv.

Og det er her jeg beveger meg inn på temaet ansvarlig reiseliv. For som i andre gigaindustrier vi nyter godt av, bør vi forbrukere innse at vi har et ansvar i å passe på at det vi driver med/ kjøper/ forbruker, ikke ødelegger for verken kloden vår, eller mennesker på den.

Eller hva mener  du?

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Interessert i mer? Les her om hvordan jeg fikk øynene opp for ansvarlig reiseliv.

 

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The ironies of eating meat

Some year ago I started to become interested in the veggie and vegan movements. However, I’ve not staid completely meat free since. I do have my periods and I follow some sort of a diet, but I don’t see the need to be completely restricted to say I’ll never eat meat again, or I’ll never do this and that. To that, I’ve lived too much – not to say traveled – and found out that to me, personally it’s a greater challenge than I like to always would have to reject meals that contains meat, or other products I know have been produced in unethical ways.

However, I have a lot of opinions on eating (too much) meat and on how human beings are consuming increasing amounts of many things we feel like we need overall. Thus I try to keep my consumption level humble and enjoy to stay and get aware about what’s behind various productions of the goods I enjoy.

When I today came across the below picture on an Instagram account, I had a moment to myself thinking. In fact, I’ve actually never thought about meat eating the way Mike Anderson puts it.

So, read it and take a moment and see what you think.

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What do you think? Did you see some ironies?

I’d love your opinions of course. 🙂

How can the tourism industry reduce its water consumption?

The United Nations have declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation, arguing that water resource management is crucial as it impacts on almost all aspects of our lives, especially health, food production, water supply and sanitation.

This year’s WTM Responsible Tourism at the World Travel Market wanted to address the questions around the travel and tourism industry’s contribution to the problem and its solution and invited to a debate on whether the tourism industry is doing enough to reduce its water consumption, chaired by professor Harold Goodwin. Mark Watson from Tourism Concern took part in the debate.

The key question was whether the participants (and the audience) believe that the tourism industry will do enough to achieve appropriate reductions in water usage without regulation by national governments.

The debate turned out very educational and several people from the audience had in fact changed their answer to the key question when it was over. Watch it here:

Fashion without pollution, please

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I’m thrilled to see the fashion industry trying to take more responsibility for their impacts on the world we live in. The reveals about poor working conditions in textile fabrics in Asia have been going viral, huge corporations have signed codes of conducts for improved practices and high-profiled fashionistas and bloggers are writing about brands that seem to take some extra steps.

Good!

Now Greenpeace are running a campaign too, and I just saw they had posted this:

Around the world a growing movement of people are using their creativity, design skills and purchasing power to demand fashion without pollution. United by a shared belief that the clothes we wear should carry a story we can be proud of, activists, bloggers, designers, scientists and models have been able to convince big brands including Zara, Mango, Valentino, UNIQLO and H&M to commit to toxic-free fashion. There is still a long way to go, but our successes so far prove that when we work together, big brands are forced to stand up and deliver.

Here is the video to the campaign:

 

You love fashion too? And consider yourself a concerned consumer? Then please engage and help spread the message!

Coconut mania

The best with reaching the Caribbean side if Mexico isn’t the climate, the hot turquoise weather and the cliche sandy beaches. It’s having all the coconuts I can only dream of managing to eat within an arm’s reach.

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Perhaps it’s because I’m originally from Norway that I developed a passion for coconuts, as they’re so rare and exotic to people in the North. I can’t remember when I had my first coconut, so apparently it wasn’t a mind-blowing moment, but my fanaticism definitely grew stronger through traveling and possibly with some help of the popularity explosion of for example Thai food wherever you are in Europe…

Anyway, I’ve become a coconut fanatic and it’s been a while now that I’ve consciously planned my trips around the globe according to where they have delicious and locally grown coconuts. At least that’s where I’m heading..

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Of course I knew Mexico is one of the hot spots in that regard, but as much as I knew it, the country is big and it’s not until you are in beachy regions that you actually find them everywhere.

The 24 hours I spent in Bacalar were rather boring, yet good for a break on the long way from Palenque to Tulum and to get a peak of the beautiful Bacalar laguna. But most importantly it was a perfect place to start consuming fresh coconuts. To my thrill the guesthouse I staid at had eight coconut trees in their garden and dozens of coconuts spread around the lawn, and the owner told me to pick and eat as many as I wanted. I took him seriously.

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In Tulum (where I am at the moment), there are coconut trees and vendors on every street and I feel like in heaven with my new routine of cold coconut juice and flesh for brunch, evening food and night food. Also, since we’re in Mexico, you can only imagine all the ways they offer to serve you the coconut flesh. Coco enchilada, limenada, with tamarindo, or mixed with alcohol… And the best, they’re all natural, healthy, locally produced and not distinct.

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Mezcal (2) – Me (0)

I don’t know if it’s a personal record, but the truth is I’ve been in Mexico for two days and already gone drunk to bed twice. One thing is to blame for that: The Mezcal.

And I speak about good Mezcals. The ones that trustworthy Mexicans recommend are equally good to drink as Tequilas. The first encounter I had with Mezcal while in the country it’s from – Mexico – happened the night I arrived to Mexico DF.

A Norwegian friend of mine put me in contact with a Mexican girl she knows that offered me to stay in her flat for some days. Fortunate as I am with my friends, the welcome committee this Mexican girl put together couldn’t be better for a slightly nervous and emotional (after saying goodbye to everybody in Canada) girl starting the third big solo travel of her life.

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Maria and her boyfriend were up waiting for me with big smiles on their faces at 1130pm when I arrived with a taxi from the airport. So was their tiny cat Fer, that welcomed me by running wildly from one living room corner to another, stopping only to look at me from behind the sofa. Considering I’m probably the biggest woman he has ever seen, I don’t blame her.

Maria showed me what was going to be “my room for as long as I needed” where I left my things before the couple insisted we had a beer and a Mezcal. We sat down in the brown sofa next to the wall covered with a full book shelf. I spotted mostly academic content in genres like politics, history, anthropology and human rights.

Part from books, shelfs in the living room was decorated with all kinds of ancient Maya sculptures and some old records. Maria’s boyfriend surprised me with a serious interest in Mezcal and showed me his selection. As if wine tasting, we smelled the different types while he taught me their attributes. Then Maria came back with a plate of chopped apples and three types of chilli powder to eat in between the sipping.

“Remember to only sip the Mezcal. What you guys do in Europe with the Tequila shots is something you’ve invented. … And it’s dangerous!” they told me.

I agreed to that and confirmed I also had some drunken-on-tequila-stories in the bag. I don’t know why foreigners started shotting Tequila or Mezcal, but it may have to do with the taste of the bad variants we use. Because quite frankly, a good Tequila or Mezcal doesn’t give you the chills every time you take a small sip.Besides the fruit-on-the-side trick is very smart. Mexicans are of world class with regard to mixing sweet and spicy, bitter and hot.

“Let’s have a beer and a mezcal” led to at least the triple meanwhile we spent two hours of intense chatting about their study times in the UK (from where the girl knows my friend), kidnapping in Mexico, Human Right issues, Indigenous people, the purpose of my journey, advices for the city and had plenty of quesadillas.

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We went to bed and I remember they said that the best about it is apparently that a good one doesn’t give you a hungover…

Now two days later, I can confirm this is a fact that is 50% true.

Because although it’s true I woke up fresh as a cucumber yesterday (and bragged about it all day, which probably resulted in chugging it again on my second night), I woke up looking like this today:

 

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Hello there..

At first it took me a while to memorize were I got that necklace…

Then I remembered it all! An elder gentleman (supposedly a bank director) gave it to me during a karaoke session we both ended up in yesterday night. Randomly I bumped into him, his colleague and another lady that were out for some after office drinks.

I was on my way to a Couchsurfer meeting in a bar when I passed by them and for no specific reason – other than enjoying random encounters – I accepted their loud offer to have a drink with them.

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As all things in life: One thing led to the other, and here I’m sitting slightly fringed out with a cup of coffee, yet very happy to be two interesting Mezcal experiences richer.

Some might argue that I’m not being careful enough when I bump into people like this, but trust that I definitely take my precautions. Part of my nature since I was a kid is that I keep running into random people. And I love it. In this last case I could have just left the drunken bank men after a little while in order to make it to the Couch surfing thing, but as I had no commitment there either – other than getting to know people – I somehow felt that the meeting I already had with the loud Mexicans was interesting.

It was especially nice to hear all the stories from the oldest man’s life. He had the saddest looking puppy eyes in the middle of a very wrinkly face, and told me he had survived three marriages. After two kids and ten slightly dramatic years with one lady he went through a hard separation before he fell in love again with a much younger woman. Her dream was to get kids, but apparently she wasn’t fertile so they had to go through a long process of applications and agreements for adoption. When their adopted kids were 4 and 6 the mother got cancer and died within four months, leaving my old friend a single father of two at the age of 55.

He told me that to get through it he had to take one day at the time, and that now looking back, the experience has changed his way of seeing love and life. To the better. Now, twelve years older he is the proud father of four and step-dad of two. With glittering eyes he showed me the pictures of everybody.

Then we talked for another hour before insisted on adopting me. At least being here for me no matter what. He was like: If you ever need something in Mexico, Ill help you out. After all this I see you as a daughter.

True story. Though it might have been the Mezcal that spoke of course..

Anyway, meetings like this is what makes traveling so beautiful and interesting. It forces you to trust people and listen, to see the world with other eyes.. And even more so when you travel alone. Which is what I love about it!

And I say that without recommending that people drink too much Mezcal, of course. For Christ sake, CONSUME RESPONSIBLY guys. Ill tell myself that from now on too, as ever before.

Still fascinates me though… That the below plant can create what it can in people. 😉

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photo cred: tripadvisor.ca

Why mass tourism is unsustainable

One of the tourism academics I admire the most is Anna Pollock, the founder of Conscious travel.

According to their website, Conscious Travel is a movement, a community and a learning program that enables places to attract and welcome guests in a manner that doesn’t cost the earth. They state that tourism is system of three elements: Places, Guests and Hosts.  And that as such; It’s all about PEOPLE, thus If people change their values and their perception of how the world works, then everything else changes.

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Conscious Travel refers to the Conscious Capitalism Institute for the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism (which has the same features as Responsible Capitalism). It is based on the belief that a more complex form of capitalism is emerging that holds the potential for enhancing corporate performance while simultaneously continuing to advance the quality of life for billions of people, and challenges business leaders to re-think why their organisations exist and to acknowledge their companies’ roles in the interdependent marketplace. Read more here.
I first heard about Anna Pullock (that has 40 years experience working as a strategist, analyst and change agent for travel destinations around the world) through Tourism Concern work as she has engaged with them throughout the decades.
Here you can read her recent article in The Guardian, presenting the six key reasons why the current tourism model is way past its prime and why more of us need to focus on creating alternatives.

(find Conscious Travel on facebook here).