What comes to mind when you hear the term “eco-tourism?”
Most people think of eco-tourism as travel to exotic places with threatened environments—and that’s not exactly wrong. The International Ecotourism Society broadly defines eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Interestingly, though, the term often brings to mind faraway land, typically South American land, perhaps where local crops or the rainforests are in danger.
A visit to the New York Times eco-tourism page seems to further this image of Latin land in peril, as four of the six top stories feature Latin American locations—the Galapagos Islands, Guyana, Belize and Costa Rica. The point is, when we think about eco-tourism and sustainable travel, the focus is on foreign places and we usually overlook troubled destinations within our own borders.
Yogi, surfer and Blissologist Eoin Finn is bringing the focus of eco-tourism closer to home. This year he’s introducing the Eco Karma Yoga Projects, which are trips within the U.S. that are designed to “deepen the connection with nature and ourselves and take action against climate change.”
The first Eco Karma Yoga Project begins on November 10 in Austin, Texas where Finn will start the day with a free yoga class. After yoga, an expert from the Arbor Day Foundation will lead a discussion on forest devastation in west Texas and then everyone will see the affected areas first-hand and plant seeds to repopulate the worst sections.
The second stop for the project will be on December 6 in Key Largo where Finn will highlight the importance of the dwindling coral reef population—a cause that he says is particularly important to him.
As a surfer and a yogi, the devastation of the world’s oceans and coral reefs are something that I see on a daily basis. We are so dependent on the ocean and it’s reefs as it is home to massive biodiversity—about 25 percent of marine life. Coral reefs play a vital role in the health of our oceans and the local communities that rely on their abundance as a way of life.
During the trip to Florida, Finn will spend two days leading free yoga classes, co-hosting ocean education seminars with the Coral Restoration Foundation and taking part in dives to help repopulate the local coral reefs. He hopes to raise $10,000 in donations to protect a section of the reef.
The two trips in the U.S. are only the beginning; Finn plans to expand the tour to include a longer trip to Bali, as well. The focus in Bali would also be on preserving the health and diversity of coral reefs, but there would be time for surfing, detox and yoga. For those who aren’t able to attend any of the trips, there is plenty you can do every day to protect coral reefs and the ocean. Finn suggests finding eco-friendly carwashes, building a demand for eco-friendly soap and being mindful of what goes down the drain. Eating only sustainable seafood is imperative, too.