From flights to accommodations, tours and excursions, Sri Lanka has been facing challenges in making it more environmentally-friendly. However, with several initiatives undertaken by Sri Lanka tourism board, Sri Lanka is becoming a more eco-friendly destination. As visitors, we have our parts to play in this journey. Let’s be a bit more conscious to make our travel green and lessen the impact on the earth. Check out our guide for an eco-friendly trip to Sri Lanka below!
Before the trip: How to be an eco-friendly flier
Flights may not be the most eco-friendly mode of transportation. But what other choice do we have? Fortunately, there are steps and measures you could take when flying into Sri Lanka.
- Book non-stop flights: Given its strategic location, Sri Lanka has many direct flights which you could take advantage of. Non-stop flights require less fuel consumption and as such, the passenger would be contributing positively towards the environment
- Pack light: Being close to the equator, Sri Lanka is a warm country and you will therefore not have to pack warm clothes/jackets that are usually bulky. It would be easy to pack light which can help reduce the weight of the flight, thereby reducing the fuel consumption.
- Avoid printing your boarding pass: Many flights to Sri Lanka accommodate soft-copies of boarding passes. In addition, the check-in counters at the Sri Lankan airport facilitate e-Boarding passes.
- Check if your airline has any environmental policies in place: Many airlines are trying to mitigate their impact, from reducing in-flight waste to allow customers to buy carbon offset. Do check with your airlines if they have any eco-friendly initiatives, or fly with the ones who do!
Things to note before the flight to Sri Lanka
There are many ways you can enjoy a holiday to Sri Lanka and while remaining eco-friendly. Below are some steps you could take to ensure there is minimal harm to the environment.
- Carry your own water bottle: Sri Lanka can be very humid, so you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated more often than usual. Without realising it, you have gone through the third plastic bottle. Hence, it is a clever idea to carry a bottle a refillable container. This may seem like a simple step but can have a massive impact if everyone follows it.
- Shop local: Sri Lanka is home to so many budding entrepreneurs that manufacture and sell local products that are mostly organic and eco-friendly. Watch out and encourage them by shopping at these stalls. Not only would you be receiving a wonderful eco-friendly product but also be supporting the local community.
- Walk or use public transport: Though the public transport system in Sri Lanka is not as established in the Western countries, it is still economical and an eco-friendly mode of transport. Try to avoid private taxis especially if you are travelling alone. Consider walking to your destination if it’s not too far.
- Avoid plastic bags and straws: If you are out shopping, avoid using plastic shopping bags as much as possible. Bring your own shopping bag which can be carried along wherever you go. When at a restaurant, avoid using straws and plastic cups.
Where to sleep: Eco-friendly Stays in Sri Lanka
Most often than not, these accommodations provide job opportunities to the local community and a platform to showcase their talents in terms of cooking local delicacies, creating and selling local handicrafts and arts. Most of these eco-friendly accommodations are family-friendly and provides you with great flexibility.
These villas are also purposefully built with environmentally friendly materials such as teak and bamboo. They also make use of solar power, collect rainwater and adopt sustainable practices such as waste management, zero plastic policy.
To ensure you have an eco-friendly stay in Sri Lanka, you could consider the following steps:
- Save power by switching off the air-conditioner and enjoying the natural breeze.
- Open the windows and let in the natural light thereby eliminating the need for powered lights during the day.
- Reuse the bed linen and towels provided whenever possible.
- Or stay in an eco-friendly villa like Villa Nikara Yala 5 and Walatta House. For every booking, we plant a tree to help fight deforestation in Indonesia :)
Where to eat: Organic local delicacies in Sri Lanka
Given that agricultural economy forms a major part of the Sri Lankan economy, it won’t come as a surprise that you will be able to taste a wide range of healthy and organic agriculture grown by local farmers. The use of coconut milk, plant-based oil and green leaves are very popular in local dishes. Some restaurants that embrace these types of food include Plus Nine Four, Café Kumbuk and Life Food. These restaurants ensure all ingredients used are organic and sourced from local establishments. They are also taking measures to avoid using plastic cups straws and instead use alternatives such as stainless steel or recycled paper.
In addition, the Department of Agriculture has commissioned for food stalls named “Hela Bojun” to sprout across the island. These are local food outlets that not only serves exceptional freshly-prepared local food but also provides a platform to empower local women. This helps them support themselves financially and simultaneously build their entrepreneurial skills. The objective of Hela Bojun is to create a healthier generation island-wide and built a strong community of empowered village women who can lead a prosperous life. There have been many stalls opened across the island. Definitely a must-try!
What to buy: Eco-friendly shopping in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is very well known for its local arts and craftsmanship. You will not run short of places to shop for local souvenirs. There are several shops in Sri Lanka that showcase the masterpieces of local handicrafts which you can take back home to your loved ones. From ornaments to paintings and to clothing, you will have a wide choice of items to shop for.
Watch out for the local pop-up stores that are put up on weekends in the streets of Colombo. These are showcased by talented local individuals who are proud of their achievements. Most of the ornaments and handicrafts are handmade with locally sourced materials guaranteeing you with high-quality items. Though they may not be cheap, they are worth the value.
Where to find local craftsman in Sri Lanka
There have been several shopping sites and pop-up stores that are being featured in Sri Lanka. Some are organised for the sole purpose of supporting local businesses thereby helping the community. Shopping at these areas provides you with a wonderful opportunity to explore a wide range of artisanal high-quality items that are unique. Below are some places you could shop for eco-friendly items:
This place is more than just an ordinary Colombo market as many locals visit here on the weekend with their families. The best thing about this market is that it centered around the concept of supporting local communities, non-profit ventures, and charitable organizations. The market showcases items brought forward by budding ventures that are sustainable, local and socially conscious thereby contributing very positively to the local economy.
This market is set up to support local artists that come from all around the country together at the heart of Colombo. You can browse through several affordable artworks each having their own unique touch to it. It’s a wonderful way to engage with the local artists and understand the effort put behind each piece of art. It provides them an opportunity to exhibit their paintings and sculptures at stalls that line up at the side of the streets.
Over here, you can shop for local handicrafts that can be taken purchased as souvenirs for your loved back home. Many are hand-made making it unique and eco-friendly too. They do not use industrial methods thereby eliminating wastage through mass production. Their products include ornaments and souvenirs made of silverware, brassware and natural fibres which are sustainably manufactured. They have 13 branches island-wide, so find the nearest store to your villa here.
Related: 10 ideal souvenirs from Sri Lanka
This company provides a platform to provide families to choose healthy organic food. It eventually leads to rural producers adopting ethical and environmentally-friendly practices helping them achieve a sustainable lifestyle. It’s a perfect choice for those seeking fresh organic produce that is both sustainable and healthy.
What to do: Popular eco-friendly tours in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is very popularly known for its beaches, tea plantations, and its cultural heritage. Being home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are plenty of attractions you could visit during your time on the island. You could either choose to watch dolphins in their natural habitat, take a dip at the pristine beaches or hike up the mountain ranges in the Central region. Alternatively, if you are interested in learning the history and culture of Sri Lanka, you could also take a tour around the Cultural Triangle which is a popular choice too. Below are some of the eco-friendly tours that you could participate in to make the best of your stay in Sri Lanka:
Locally known as ‘Veddas’, they have been native to Sri Lanka since the 5th Century. Engaging with them at a personal level provides an experience that is truly enriching in terms of understanding their traditional lifestyle. They still live in mud huts, harvesting their own food and even speaking their language. It’s a fantastic way to experience sustainable living as you learn how they use natural resources to provide them with food, shelter, clothing, and medicine.
Meet the smiling people as you take an early morning walk through scenic villages that sustain life through paddy harvesting and agriculture. Learn the simple living styles of the villagers themselves who harvest food sustainably and use natural resources very effectively. Learn their lifestyle in terms of culture, habits, and traditions for a truly enriching experience.
The climate in the central region of Sri Lanka is calm and cooling which calls for a cycling tour across the tea plantations. Using the most sustainable mode of transportation, cycle your way up to visit the Hantana tea plantation. There’s no better way to do it as you can enjoy the picturesque vies of the hill country along the way. Finish off the tour with a cup of hot fresh tea available at their very own café.
Since Sri Lanka is very popular for its agricultural sector, this tour would most certainly be worthwhile. For eco-friendly travellers, it’s a wonderful way to capture the insight into the agricultural practices from paddy cultivation to harvesting and understanding the process of organically farming fruits and vegetables. You could gain hands-on experience in some of these tasks too and feel part of contributing towards the sustainable process of farming.
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