Over the past decade, the phrases ‘eco’, ‘eco resort’ and ‘eco lodge’ have grown hugely in popularity.
From Raja Ampat, to the Mexican Riviera and the Honduran Bay Islands, ‘eco’ options are now a standard choice for most divers seeking vacation accommodation.
Many of us are no longer able to ignore Earth’s mounting environmental challenges.
So, it’s no wonder we’re seeking luxurious getaways that not only provide us with some well needed rest and relaxation, but do so in a way that claims to protect the environment and empower local communities. Sounds like a win-win doesn’t it?
Well it is! Numerous incredible dive resorts all over the globe are going out of their way to do business differently. Whether they’re growing their own food, setting up marine protected areas, funding the local schools or powering their property with 100% clean energy, it’s enough to give you a real sense of optimism about the future.
It’s a no-brainer that this translates directly into massive marketing potential.
Unfortunately, this has led some operators to exploit this potential by attaching ‘eco’ words to their brand, without actually taking any real action. Not only is this hugely misleading, but also unfair and disappointing for those seeking to truly do good with their vacation spending.
Greenwashing is behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.
And that is not cool.
To help you cut through the BS and easily understand what’s really going on, we’ve put together this easy list of questions that you can ask your next dive resort or liveaboard…
1. Do you have a written policy regarding the environment and local community?
If they’ve gone to the effort to put together a written policy about their relationship with the environment and local community, things are looking good. If not, there’s a reasonable chance they aren’t taking it seriously.
2. What contribution to the environment or local community are you most proud of?
Asking about a single positive contribution to the environment or local people that the organisation is most proud of, is an easy way to see how much action is really going on. If their marketing is genuine, they’ll have a lot to choose from.
3. How do you measure your contribution to conservation and the local community?
Find out how they measure their contribution to conservation and local communities, including which local charities they work with. If they can’t give you an answer, it could be that they aren’t measuring anything because they’re not doing anything.
4. How many locals do you employ?
Ask the owner about how many local people are employed at your dive resort or liveaboard, what percentage this is of the total staff and whether any are in management positions. This’ll give you a good idea of how much of the resort’s success is truly trickling back to the local community.
5. What’s your policy on single use plastics?
Ask about their waste policy, and keep an eye out for iconic disposable products such as the coffee cup or plastic straw. These are often the tip of the iceberg and an easy way to tell if environmental commitments are all talk and no action.
6. Do you source your produce and services locally?
Ask them what percentage of produce and services offered are sourced within 25km/16mi of the resort. A resort that’s taken the time to integrate with the local community will offer a much more authentic experience and will be invested in the shared health and resilience of the area.
7. I want to make my next dive a clean up dive. Is there anything I should bear in mind?
Ask your dive guide for best practice tips on doing an underwater clean up. If their commitments to conservation are genuine, they’ll be glad to talk you through what to keep in mind.
8. What do you do with your waste water?
Ask your resort or liveaboard how they deal with their waste water (coral and other marine life is currently being destroyed by organisations who pump their effluent out to sea), or how they cool their building (perhaps by clever design or air conditioning powered by clean energy).
9. Can you share any advice with me about local customs and culture?
Ask about what advice is given to guests on local customs and cultures. Being respectful of the people who inhabited the area long before tourism arrived, is not only the right thing to do, but indicates a wider commitment (or lack of commitment) towards environmental, social and economic harmony.
10. Have you won any awards for your dedication to environmental or social challenges?
Ask if they hold any environmental certifications such as 100% AWARE, Green Star and Green Fins. These are independently awarded and can be easily recognised on every relevant PADI Travel listing above each dive center name.
11. I want to contribute myself, is there any way that I can get hands on during my stay in terms of giving back?
Ask the resort for ideas on how you might get involved with local people and conservation in a worthwhile way during your vacation. Any legitimate eco resort will be thrilled to help you with this.
Interested in diving with a truly eco-friendly PADI Dive Shop or Resort? Check out the map of our PADI Eco Centers – we’ve done all the screening for you!