How I find environmental gratitude in every adventure

December 14, 2023

Being a traveller comes with endless experiences, opportunities, and an abundance of memories but at the same time, responsibilities. In today’s times especially, when climate change is apparent around the globe, it’s essential that we as adventurous souls understand and care for the environment.

One way to do that is by practicing environmental gratitude—the act of being grateful for your natural surroundings wherever you travel. Growing up in India, I travelled to the north very frequently. My father being a wildlife photographer and an offbeat traveller, got me into the world of backpacking and travelling at a very young age. I saw my first tiger at Ranthambore National Park when I was one, and conquered my first Himalayan summit at ten, which was enough to fall head-over-heels in love with the world of exploring.

As I grew older, I began to realize the importance of gratitude in general. It was because of my father that incorporating being grateful—even for the most mundane things—became a quick habit. Therefore, every single time I travelled and transitioned out of the phase of exploring with my parents, I noticed myself really appreciating the world around me. I was grateful for the opportunity to roam, to experience, to make memories and most importantly, to consciously adapt the practice of gratitude for the environment around me.

Here are a few ways that I consciously practice the act of environmental gratitude everywhere I travel:

1. Take a mindful moment to appreciate what is right in front of you

As cliché as this sounds, I promise you that there is so much beauty in admiring and consciously making yourself aware of all that you witness and see outside. As you travel, pause for a mindful moment to really take in the raw beauty of your surroundings. Sometimes (quite often actually) we forget the little things that enabled us to explore, the struggles it took to get there, and the amount of time we pondered about being at that exact place. We forget in the heat of the moment, to take time and gaze at the beauty of what a specific place has to offer.

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2. Take advantage of what’s around you

Be it rivers, mountains, lakes, or beaches, unleash your inner adventurer and appreciate the natural elements that are available in your destination. Whenever I trekked the Himalayas or the Sahyadris, a mountain range in the state of Maharashtra, India, I noticed the little pockets of shade that would prevent my skin from getting sunburnt in the scorching heat. That’s where I would go and rest while hiking a long trail. This is exactly what I mean by “taking advantage” of what nature has to offer. Look around. There is always a surprise waiting for you. As sad as it is, these elements as we know them won’t be around forever.

3. Live by the “leave no trace behind” method

Primarily, the leave no trace behind method means avoiding littering or disturbing nature of any kind. Really, we should be striving to leave behind footprints and nothing more. And even then, we must be careful about where to tread so as not to trample plant life. No one likes their home trashed.

4. Buy local and sustainable wherever you go

Imagine yourself taking a stroll in the culturally-rich streets of India. You smell the scrumptious foods, look at traditional wares, and talk to locals. It gives you pure joy.

You know every fast food joint will be waiting for you when you get back home. Why not take this opportunity to branch out and try something new?

Buying hyperlocal is not only a way to appreciate the culture of the destination you’re travelling to by interacting with the locals - buying directly from artisans avoids the environmental damage caused by their mass-produced equivalents.

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5. Choose green accommodations and methods of transportation

There are plenty of accommodation and transport options to choose from. Youth hostels, bicycle tours, multi-day hikes, you name it. Most of the time, travelers save up here and there on a daily basis to be able to afford experiences. Find hostels that are inexpensive, conveniently located and environmentally friendly, while putting your safety and comfort first.

When you want to get from one destination to another, walk or bike if you can. Take your steps for the day and, at the same time, discover new places along the way by embracing the act of traveling slowly on your own two feet if you can. This can be your way of getting involved in protecting the environment. In the end, the true luxury of travel is to experience new things, to collect memories, to wander with open eyes and an open heart, and to be grateful for the beauties that are here now.

This article is part of the
Issue 7

Travel Conscious

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