By Christer Söderberg, Palma May 9th, 2017
(this blog appeared first in the “Mallorca LOOK” July 2017 edition)
Vacation time is the opportunity to rest, recharge your batteries, and enjoy some refreshing distractions from the routines of daily life. With this end in mind, Mallorca offers many inspiring ways to enjoy your holidays, and leave a small environmental footprint, if any at all. Also known as a “carbon footprint”, it’s the sum of carbon emissions our way of living leaves behind.
A normal European family leaves a carbon footprint of between (approx.) ten and fifteen tons/person/year. The USA, Canada, and Australia top the charts at (approx.) 20 tons/person/year. As a comparison, on the other side of the spectrum, Ethiopia has a per capita carbon footprint of 0.03 ton/person/year, while India’s is 1.16 ton/person/year and China’s is 4.58 ton/person/year. *
A carbon footprint allows us to think about what and how we consume. On a vacation, we can choose to rent an electric vehicle for example, or use public transport. When shopping and dining out, we can choose local handicrafts (with low footprint since it doesn’t come from far away) and local restaurants serving local and organic food (less transportation and fewer fossil fuel-based fertilizers).
In Palma there are public bicycles and several bicycle rental companies to help you get around town and along the beaches. More advanced electrical bicycles can increase your range and make exploring not only more fun, but also more environmentally friendly.
One of the challenges on Mallorca is providing water to the growing number of visitors every year. Last years drought was only resolved at the very end of the year, thanks to two weeks of intense rain, thus averting serious damage to crops and avoiding rationing. When showering, it’s a good idea to turn off the water while soaping and lathering, and use the precious water only for rinsing. Same goes for brushing the teeth, turn off the tap while brushing, and turn on again to rinse. If everyone helps out this saves large quantities of water.
We are all noticing an increase of plastics in the sea, and on the beaches. Whereas new legislation is being written to prohibit the sale and use of plastic bags, disposable cups and cutlery, we can all contribute to cleaner beeches and clear water by taking reusable bags and water containers with us to the beach and on excursions. Being a good example is not only good for the environment, but perhaps most importantly can help save seabirds, mammals like the Mediterranean turtle (who mistakes plastic bags for it’s favorite food, jellyfish, and dies from choking on the plastic), and the many fish that eat the microscopic plastic particles that accumulate in their stomach until they starve, their bellies full of plastic.
While reducing our carbon footprint can be a challenge, how we use (or choose not to use) plastics and think about water use can also be an opportunity. You can make a vacation a great way to improve habits at home, and contribute to a safer, more healthy and happy way of living. And most of all contribute towards a more sustainable way of living not only on the paradise island of Mallorca, but indeed on the paradise planet we all call our home.
Carbon Footprints: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/carbon-emissions-per-person-capita
Carbon calculator: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator1.html