6. Shop carefully
Tempted by an “antique” carved ivory tusk? Or a black coral bracelet? Think twice. Just because an item is for sale doesn’t mean it’s legal to purchase. Some products, such as snake wine, tortoiseshell accessories, shells and coral jewelry, ivory, or furs are made from protected plants or endangered species and can be illegal to export or import. They can also be the products of poaching or mislabeled to entice tourists. Before you spend, be sure to ask questions. What is the item made of? Where did it come from? By making informed choices—or just saying no—you could dodge a serious fine at customs or help reduce the market demand for trafficked, at-risk species. For a list of items to avoid, check out WWF’s Buyer Beware Guide.
7. Be smart about plastics
Each year, more than 8 million tons of plastics wind up in our ocean, where they disrupt delicate ecosystems and endanger marine wildlife. Much of this harmful waste comes from single-use plastics like throw-away water bottles, take-out packaging, and plastic shopping bags not recovered by waste management. Minimize the amount of plastic waste you produce when you travel by carrying a re-usable water bottle, opting for locally filtered water where possible, and bringing your own tote bags for shopping.
8. Look, don’t touch
No matter where you go, you should never touch, feed, taunt, or play with the wild animals you encounter, which could spell trouble for both you and the animal. Also keep away from tourist attractions where you’re allowed to have hands-on experiences with animals or where wild animals are exploited. These are often harmful to the animals and fuel the illicit trade in exotic pets or endangered animal parts.
9. Pick your products
Some common sunscreens and soaps contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by the ocean’s fragile coral reefs systems and contribute to coral bleaching. Before you dive in, make sure to use reef-friendly products, such as biodegradable or mineral-based sunscreens, shampoo, and soaps. Or think about switching to protective clothing, like rash guards and wet suits, which dermatologists say are just as effective as sunscreen.
10. Enjoy sustainable activities
As you explore new places, opt for recreational activities that don’t pollute or use energy, such as kayaking, biking, or hiking. Not only will you create zero carbon emissions, you’ll likely discover unique sights and experiences away from the beaten path.