Updated: Jun 9, 2020
“The future of sustainability is regeneration: replenishing and restoring what we have lost and building economies and communities that thrive, while allowing the planet to thrive too”.
- The New Sustainability report by J.Walter Thompson Intelligence
When the environment is impersonal like in standard hotels, people don’t have as much respect for how they treat their surroundings. The Ecolodge is a trend. Ecology is about intelligence, to have awareness that what you do has impact, both positive and negative.
When we first designed Ojo del Mar, we knew that our early decisions would have a lasting impact on the jungle around us - and beyond. Then as now, we wanted guests to deeply feel that everything has intention and care behind it: the buildings are organically integrated into the landscape and built with natural materials, the waste disposal system has minimal impact, and the garden mixes decorative flora with endemic plants and agro-crops to use for cooking.
Over many years, we have learned that this attention to the natural world also has an impact on ourselves and our guests: At Ojo Del Mar, travelers are pulled, rather than pushed, into a mindful state of being. Within the quiet space of rest that forms after a few days spent between the Gulf and the rainforest, travelers are able to tune in to nature, others, and themselves and become truly conscious. This sets the stage for transformative experiences, reconnection, and long-lasting change.
Which brings us to the idea of regenerative tourism. Many socially and environmentally aware travellers are already attuned to the ideas behind sustainable tourism. Sustainable travel practices seek to maintain the environment by minimizing the costs to destination communities and to avoid further depletion of local and global resources.
Regenerative tourism expands on this ideal, seeking to restore and even improve the environmental and social conditions in destination communities, while providing a transformative travel experience. It is focused on not just preserving and sustaining the beauty that already exists, but more importantly, it embraces the challenge of restoring and healing everything that has suffered, been depleted, threatened - or worse, becoming extinct.
How can you help in this mighty cause? Here are 5 easy ways to have an impact - as soon as your next trip:
Join activities that directly contribute to restoration and regeneration - like tree planting, ocean clean-ups, turtle and other marine-life projects, and more. Even if you are not able to find a volunteer group, look for activities that don’t pollute or use energy...like hiking, swimming, surfing and beach strolling.
Use responsible tour providers, especially those tied to the local community: Support businesses that use sustainable practices that protect and preserve nature, wildlife, and indigenous people - and also reinvest part of their profits to the local community.
Minimize your travel footprint: Make room for items that can be reused, like steel water bottles, tote bags, and rechargeable batteries. Consider energy-offsets like carbon credits, and smaller, locally-owned travel outfitters. Travel by bus, train or carpool, you'll be able to see the country in moredetail - and meet new people and observe the culture.
Use reef- and wildlife-safe personal care products: chemicals found in many products - especially sunscreens - have been found to be harmful to coral reefs. Some bug sprays are also toxic to butterflies, bees and other flying insects.
Eat local and fresh: the food industry accounts for a great deal of unnecessary transport, packaging and deforestation. Local, often family-run farms - as well as small gardens in lodges and other locations - help maintain the land and create "buffer zones," provide additional nesting and food sources for wildlife, and connect more deeply to seasonal rhythms.
Regenerative practices let us not only give back directly to local communities we visit, but to also use our collective energy to work together - to restore and find ongoing solutions to the environmental, economic, and social challenges we are facing.