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Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

 

Songkran is the Thai New Year festival celebrated from 13 – 15 April. It is one of the country’s most important public holidays. Songkran is a Buddhist festival also celebrated in many other parts of Asia including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and parts of China. Each country has its own unique rituals and celebrations.

Water holds considerable significance during Songkran. It is a vital part of the celebrations as it is used for the ritual cleansing. However, this ritual expands inevitably into a giant fiesta of water splashing. If you visit these countries during this New Year period, be prepared to get very wet!

Songkran is a joyous time and an important festival for all Buddhists but it is important to act responsibly and conserve water – our most precious natural asset.

Here are some thoughts to consider when celebrating Songkran this week-end:

 

  1. Celebrate in traditional style

Celebrate Songkran traditionally by sprinkling a small amount of water over the hands of elders to receive a blessing for the upcoming year. This is a gentle and very meaningful gesture in Buddhist society.

 

  1. Use spray bottles – not water guns

It may be tempting and probably a must to take part in a water fight but you should consider using spray bottles as an alternative to the water guns.

 

  1. Visit a temple

Many temples offer Songkran activities and traditional shows where you may learn about the core concept of the water festivals in the company of local residents and fellow visitors.

 

Check South East Asia’s best temples here.

Songkran is a wonderful opportunity for mingling with locals and making new friends. Take time to consider how best to celebrate this year’s amazing Songkran Festival whilst remaining ever mindful of the need to conserve water.

 

Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

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No detail is too small, especially when it comes to cleaning. This idea can be applied to every area of hospitality, but today we are specifically referring to spring cleaning. When you think about spring cleaning, de-cluttering comes to mind, but have you thought about the cleaning products you use? Sustainable living starts with our daily routine, so let’s pay attention to how we can reduce our impact while doing daily chores and cleaning at work or home.

 

Cleaning products can contain harmful chemicals that end up polluting our soil and waterways. Below are some eco- and wallet-friendly substitutes for commercial cleaning products that do the job and are appropriate for office, hotel properties and even your home.

 

 

  1. Use baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to clean silver items

Baking soda is a great cleaning product that is readily available and is quite inexpensive. When cleaning, add three parts of bicarb to one part with water and mix it, creating a paste. You can use this paste for any silver item. Once finished, rinse with water and wipe with a dry cloth.

 

  1. The microwave-lemon trick

Squeeze some lemon juice into a microwaveable bowl and cook for three minutes in the microwave. Afterwards, leave it to stand for approximately five minutes, then open the door and wipe out the microwave using a dry cloth. The microwave grime will come right off! If lemon juice is cost-prohibitive, vinegar works just as well!

 

  1. Dabble in vinegar

Speaking of which, vinegar can have multiple uses for cleaning. It works well to remove grease in the kitchen, and clears up cloudy deposits on wine glasses, and to clean mold and mildew in bathrooms. It even works well to works well to freshen up leather products – dab using a dry cloth and gently brush on. Here are more uses and recipes for vinegar as a cleaning product!

 

  1. Environmental friendly cleansers:

If using chemical or commercial cleansers inform yourself about ingredients and packaging. Check the ecolabel and be sure to read more on criteria to evaluate green supplies.

 

There are many ways to make a positive impact on our environment. While it can be intimidating to “go green“ in every part of our lives, every small step can make a big difference.

 

Read more on eco-friendly cleaning here.

 

 

 

 

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As predicted earlier, the buzzword “du jour” in tourism is fast becoming transformation. Its predecessor, sustainability, has through over and mis-use become meaningless and ineffective lacking the capacity to lift hearts, inspire hope and, ironically, sustain action. I am delighted but also very concerned.. Here’s why.

New buzzwords are favoured by a sector that, by its very nature, has to focus on quick fixes to short-term problems and thrives on novelty. Tourism is a phenomenon run by marketers and there is a good reason for that. Its suppliers sell dreams and fulfill fantasies. The customer cannot experience the “product” prior to its consumption. Hosts must defy gravity and inertia to lift their customers from their armchairs to a place far from home by stimulating desire and imagination. Hosts must paint pictures that trigger a desire strong enough to generate a “click,” then a booking and sustain interest and enthusiasm through the rigours and unpleasantries of passage to the source of the anticipated experience.

In my forty-four year career, I have observed first-hand how marketers have progressed from one promise to another as their customers became more sophisticated in their needs and demands. While I like to look forward, sometimes an understanding of context and history can be helpful.

Read the full article here.

 

By Anna Pollock from Conscious Travel

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Travelling breaks down barriers and promotes diversity. Travel is about shared experiences and building friendships. It is a great way to learn understanding for different customs.

If we teach our children how to make the right travel choices, it can not only benefit them, but it will also make the world a better place.

 

Here are some ways to travel more responsibly with your children:

 

  1. Choose sustainable transport

Explain to children how biking, walking or using public transport is much better for the planet and then choose one of those modes of transport every day during your holiday. Understanding the impact of your carbon footprint will help children to grow into more responsible travellers. Read more on green transportation here.

 

  1. Choose responsible destinations

Make time to plan your trip together with your children – research each destination’s commitment to the protection of people, animals, sites of important historic interests and, of course, the environment. Participating in this process enables younger travellers to learn about the importance of sustainable and responsible travel. Read about top destinations that enforce sustainable tourism here.

 

  1. Get off the beaten path

Choose places where you may connect with locals and learn about their traditions. Building closer connections with a place is much more enjoyable and inspiring for you and your children. Consider asking your tour operator about participating in a community based tour or a local handcraft activity.

 

  1. Encounter wildlife with respect

Teach your children a few basic rules and lead by example: use a quiet voice, do not touch, feed or get too close to wildlife and always obey the rules and instructions.

 

Showing children how to travel responsibly now will shape them into empathic and compassionate travellers and more learned members of society. And by travelling with them as responsible adults it’s a fascinating learning experience for the entire family.

Read more on sustainable travel with children here.

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The same people and organizations we admire for protecting our wild places also have a history of being apathetic—or plain antagonistic—toward issues of race and social justice

Given the history of conservationists elevating endangered plant life over endangered black lives, it is environmentalism’s soul that most needs saving.    Photo: Kristen Rogers Photography/Stock

 

Facing a new White House administration led by Donald Trump, environmental leaders recently signed an accord pledging their allegiance to civil rights and social justice. Among the signatories are several leaders of the Sierra Club, including its executive director, Michael Brune, who in recent years has steered the organization toward rather bold stances on a range of issues that aren’t traditionally recognized as “green.” In 2013, its board of directors voted that the organization should advocate for immigrant rights. The following year, the Sierra Club endorsed and defended the Black Lives Matter movement. Since President Trump came into office, the organization’s resolve has only strengthened, as Brune indicated in a November 18 blog post: “I’m proud of how the Sierra Club has begun to address the intersection of climate with inequality, race, class, and gender, and I guarantee that we’ll go even deeper.”

This shift toward racial justice matters has not been universally accepted among the Sierra Club’s ranks and may even have cost it a few members. Those who disapprove have often expressed sentiments amounting to “racism is not the environmental movement’s responsibility.” But Brune says the organization won’t be backing off anytime soon, a position he forcefully defended on the group’s blog. He will assure his members, he tells me, “that we are continuing to protect wildlife and wild places, and this is how we can best do that in the 21st century.”

What Brune is acknowledging is the darker legacy of the green movement. Some may believe that environmentalism has little to do with social justice issues, but the mission of the Sierra Club, and many conservation groups like it throughout the late-19th century and most of the 20th century, was anything but race neutral. In many ways, racial exclusivity actually shaped the environmental mission, which is what makes the Sierra Club’s leap toward civil rights advocacy such a radical move. It’s important not because a network like Black Lives Matter needs environmentalists, but because environmentalists need black lives. Given the history of conservationists elevating endangered plant life over endangered people of color, it is environmentalism’s soul that most needs saving.

 

Read the full article here.

By Brentin Mock from Outside

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Remembering to switch off lights in an unoccupied room makes a big difference to our planet’s energy bill. Switching off your lights during Earth Hour on March 25 shows your commitment to the planet. Our actions today can change our world for tomorrow.

Here are some creative ways to spend your Earth Hour:

 

1. Candlelight dinner or indoor picnic:

Prepare the meal in advance. Spread out rugs on the living room floor, light some candles and enjoy this special meal with someone you love. It’s a different and very romantic way to celebrate Earth Hour. Get some recipes here.

 

2. Art in the dark:

Try sketching, painting, or handcrafting in the dark. Do not worry if you’re not in the same class as Canaletto or Van Gogh. You will still have a laugh when the lights are switched on and your masterpice is revealed.

 

3. Play Games

It’s always fun to play games and tell stories. This Saturday night, switch off the TV, tablets and smart phones and get back to basic family fun with a board game by candlelight. Here are some ideas for more games to play in the dark.

 

4. Make a resolution

Take this opportunity to think about how you can save more energy at home. Turning off the lights can not only be fun but can also help you save cash. Pick any of these simple tips to help conserve the environment. Finally, be sure to follow our regular series of Green Tips to keep you on a right path for a sustainable future.

 

 

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By sharing their knowledge and their passion, the diving industry has recently guided the development of nine brand new “Green Fins How-to-videos”, designed to guide business managers how to easily implement the Code of Conduct and to show divers exactly what they should expect from an environmentally friendly dive centre.

They will be completely free for anyone to see and to use; you don’t even need to be working for a Green Fins member! Just follow the Green Fins website, YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to become part of the community and see sustainable diving in action!

Video #9: Eco Friendly Cleaning Tips for Diving and Snorkelling

This video aims to show dive centre owners and/or managers simple ways in which harmful discharge can be reduced by replacing chemical cleaning products with environmentally friendly ones.

 

Video #8: How To Make Reusable Tank Caps

This video outlines the issue of using masking tape to separate tanks and provides a very simple solution to dive operators shown as a step to step guide on how to make their own tanks caps. A long-term and sustainable solution.

 

Video #7: Implement Good Garbage Management Practices

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how they can properly manage their garbage so that it does not contribute to the global problem of marine debris.

 

Video #6: How to Use Alternatives To Anchoring

This video aims to show dive centre management alternatives for the use of anchors. Anchoring can devastate fragile marine ecosystems in a matter of seconds, to avoid the impact on the marine environment the video shows alternatives that can be easily implemented in different locations

 

Video #5: Guiding Divers Towards Best Environmental Practice

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how an instructor or dive guide can correct customer behaviour underwater for best environmental practice. By clearly understanding what behaviour can cause damage to the environment and how it can be corrected, instructors and guides can help their guests protect coral reefs.

Video #4: How to Give an Environmental Boat Briefing 

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that your actions could change whole ecosystems but divers on boats have the potential to do just that. Throwing trash, cigarettes or food waste into the ocean can poison marine life and change their behaviour. The new Green Fins How-to-video shows dive guides and managers how they can include simple, environmental reminders in their boat briefings to help divers protect the ocean and their favourite marine life.

For this year’s World Oceans Day, Green Fin asked their top members to answer the question “What do you do to protect the oceans? “

 

Video #3: Implementing Good Garbage Management on Boats

Divers travel far distances to see the most unique marine environments, they wouldn’t like to dive on a polluted ocean. As we all know, marine debris is one of the biggest problems oceans are facing and the diving industry can have a big environmental impact if no measures are taken. For this reason, the new Green Fins How-to- video covers this problem by providing practical solutions to dive centre owners and managers on ways their in boat practices can have less or no environmental impacts. By implementing these simple tips and making it clear to your staff and guests, you will be part of the solution, not the problem!

 

 

Video #2: How-to-Manage Underwater Photographers

The second Green Fins How-to-video shows divers the threat they can pose to marine life when taking a camera underwater and how dive guides and instructors can support customers to be responsible photographers. Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love.

 

 

Video #1: Pre-Dive Environmental Briefings

The first Green Fins How-to-video showcases one of the most important things a dive centre can do to protect the ocean it depends on. It outlines exactly what a dive guide should say to inspire divers to be responsible right before jumping in the water.

The Pre-dive briefing is the perfect opportunity to learn more from their guides about how they can protect the environment, becoming a steward for the ocean and a stronger member of the diving community.

Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love. These videos will show you how.

 

 

 

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There’s no doubt that raising livestock for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy and water – and it is claimed that these farm animals contribute to at least 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.

 

Is it possible for humans to adjust lifestyles and diets in such a way that these emissions are reduced? Here are some easy options for reducing your meat intake and lowering your culinary carbon footprint.

 

  1. Try a vegetarian restaurant

Removing meat from the daily diet is becoming more popular. The app HappyCow has been developed to make it easy to find vegan and vegetarian restaurants. HappyCow gives you insider tips in over 175 countries. Download the app here.

 

 

  1. Think about your staples

Make a list of ingredients that you consume on a regular basis. Consider vegetarian alternatives and make a new list. If you enjoy spaghetti or chilli, for example, use a ground-beef alternative from suppliers such as Morningstar Farms and just cook it using your normal recipe and method.

 

  1. Tell your friends & family

Explain the rationale for your decision to reduce meat consumption and demonstrate practically how alternatives can be equally appetizing. Click here for some nutritious recipes.

 

 

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WorldOfWorkBanner_Feb2017_960pxWide

Thailand, 2015. Photo: UN Women/Pornvit Visitoran. | Lebanon, 2015. Photo: UN Women/Joe Saad | Kenya, 2016. Photo: CIAT/Georgina Smith

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. 

The world of work is changing, with significant implications for women. On one hand, technological advances and globalization bring unprecedented opportunities for those who can access them. On the other hand, there is growing informality of labour, income inequality and humanitarian crises.

Against this backdrop, only 50 per cent of working age women are represented in the labour force globally, compared to 76 per cent of men. What’s more, an overwhelming majority of women are in the informal economy, subsidizing care and domestic work, and concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill occupations with little or no social protection. Achieving gender equality in the world of work is imperative for sustainable development.

Read more about the International Women’s Day here. By UN Women.

 

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food-waste-juulsedit

Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets

Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual.

A woman has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years.

Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets.

Read more on how she reduced the waste of food in Denmark. By Zlata Rodionova.

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