The last few decades have seen the rise of the conscious consumer, with cloth bags, reusable coffee cups, metal straws and bamboo toothbrushes offering us a starter pack of sorts to participate in the growing movement. We strive to conduct ourselves in an ethical way in our daily lives, slamming the ’gram with frequent updates about our choices. We tend to see our homes and our everyday lives as the space in which we must actively and passionately amend our behaviour for the betterment of the planet and people.

A peculiar fallout of this behaviour is that when we leave the carefully crafted practices of our homes and travel to exciting destinations, we put side blinders on, leap into vacation mode and forget about our responsibilities on the road. Even those of us with a strong do- gooder side can be guilty of this kind of compartmentalization – travel, after all, is our chance to escape, to get away from the nerve wracking process of thinking and doing relentlessly. Carrying our responsibilities with us can feel counterintuitive and cumbersome – but who says that you cannot combine exciting, fun experiences with ethical choices?

 

A hike in the hills of Barat National Park, North West Bali contributes to keeping these hills green

What if the very activities that make your travels memorable could create positive impact? What if that guided forest walk led to the reforestation of a dry hillside? Or if that beautiful lakeside camping trip contributed to the cleanup of the nearby village? Or that breathtaking scuba dive supported the restoration of the coral reefs you see glowing around you? Luckily, even though travel destinations are replete with problems of their own – whether it is plastic pollution or deforestation or impoverished communities suffering from exploitation – every destination tends to also have meaningful projects and organizations that work extremely hard to fix these problems.

Several of them include tourists in their fold, using models of ecotourism to finance their projects as well as reach a wider audience to create awareness. By offering experiences like guided forest walks in regenerating lands or snorkelling in coral reefs where restoration is underway, such projects are able to get travellers face to face with both the problem and the solution, shock as well as inspire and to create a pathway from awareness to action. Not to mention that these experiences tend to be very enriching and can only add value to your travels, enabling you to contribute to an impactful project without stress!

 

A snorkelling trip in Sumberkima Bay with Metamorfosa contributes to restoring the reef

Metamorfosa is one such organization in North West Bali that seeks to create impact while engaging with tourists in a dynamic and exciting way. A community run reef restoration project with an almost equal focus on reforestation, the makers of Metamorfosa have conceptualized a powerful project with a base in ecotourism. By inviting travellers to glimpse the beauty and wonder of Sumberkima through canoe trips in the bay, beach barbecues on white sand island and snorkelling in the slowly growing reef, the organization fulfills a double motive: gaining funds to reinvest into the project and helping travellers contribute to positive change in an enthralling way.

Voting with your wallet is an important phenomenon and the existence of sustainable companies depends on consumers realising what a vital role they play in the process. We have to think of our role in the system similarly to how we view our role in a democracy – majorities make change inevitable and it is individuals that make up the majority! Just as each vote counts in a system hinged upon universal adult suffrage, each purchase counts in a market that shifts and bends to consumer demand. Whether you are at home or in an exotic foreign landscape, the economic factors that allow organizations to thrive remain fairly constant.

 

Every climber that joins Green Rinjani in Lombok, carries a tree with them to plant

Supporting ethical projects by enjoying the authentic experiences they offer is a fairly easy way to vote with your wallet, an ideal situation in which everybody wins! Metamorfosa is a shining example of an organization that optimizes tourist potential to facilitate the restoration of flourishing ecosystems in the area and there are countless such projects, big and small that could use your help! As part of your research before you plan your holiday, it helps to actively seek out such experiences and projects that combine impact with enjoyment and allow you to carry your conscious choices on the road with you, while leaving the stresses of your daily life behind.