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How to avoid ‘localwashing’ while on vacation

Local kidsHave you noticed how companies of all sizes are touting their local credentials these days? Whether you are shopping at your local supermarket or deciding on your next vacation destination, advertisements are replete with images of locally sourced fresh food or locally guided unique vacation services.

And why not? “Buy local” and “local first” campaigns are speaking to our fundamental values to help our local communities before purchasing goods and services provided by large conglomerates. However, in an effort to align with our ideals, some corporate localwashing has also surfaced within the ecotourism industry since the eco-traveler is one that seeks an authentic connection with people and nature. Examples of localwashing by ecotourism businesses include ones that:

  • emphasize local guides and services only to be foreign owned and managed
  • do not purchase any local items such as produce, raw building materials, crafts or furniture but advertise as authentically local cultural experiences

Rather than agonizing over online reviews, guide books and definitions of local-sourced and sustainable tourism; instead use these five planning tips that will help quickly evaluate the local merits of your vacation:

  1. Look for legitimate eco-certification labels
  2. Choose travel suppliers that support local communities in multiple ways
  3. Support tourism providers that specifically offer locally produced items:
  4. Choose activities that emphasize environmental awareness
  5. Search for opportunities to immerse yourself in local cultural traditions

This post, originally published on Ellen Barone’s blog, is by Irene Lane, founder & president of Greenloons.com.



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