International Biodiversity Day May 22, 2017

International Biodiversity Day May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22nd will be proclaimed the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB)  by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the United Nations.

We are excited to be helping our friends at the UN get the word out on this vital global event! Won’t you join us on this mission!
If yes, JOIN THE THUNDERCLAP!idb-2017-logo

In just under a week from today, the United Nations and its many global supporters, including thousands of bloggers such as ourselves will be celebrating the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB).

Inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to
sustainable development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1993 to support three main objectives:
1. The conservation of biological diversity|
2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources


Aruba has consistently done its part to further the global initiative to protect fragile ecosystems along with spear-heading many successful programs to increase sustainable tourism.arubaaward
As of March 2015, Aruba has been awarded the National Geographic World Legacy Award for “Destination Leadership”
by:
–making tourism more sustainable
–keeping the island environmentally friendly for local populations

Destination Leadership is defined as – Travel destinations that are exhibiting and excelling by instituting programs to assist the local environment, preserving the natural and cultural identity of the locale, making sure the domestic communities protected by these programs and allowing visitors to participate in local activities to enhance and educate increasing the understanding of the need for sustainability.

WINNER: Aruba, Caribbean

Destination Leadership is defined as – Travel destinations that are exhibiting and excelling by instituting programs to assist the local environment, preserving the natural and cultural identity of the locale, making sure the domestic communities protected by these programs and allowing visitors to participate in local activities to enhance and educate increasing the understanding of the need for sustainability.

Read About Aruba’s award-winning efforts:
http://www.arubatriptips.com/aruba-leader-in-green-tourism-sustainability/


From: Convention of Biological Diversity (IDB2017)
Press Brief: Travel Responsibly

Sustainable travel is about making simple choices to lessen your negative impact on a given destination. Individually, each one of these choices makes only a small difference. But collectively, these little things can have a huge impact. How we travel, what we carry, what we eat and drink, what we do at our destination, what we buy, and what we leave behind, can all change the impact we have. Respecting our world and all that makes us different and unique will enhance your travel experience.

To highlight what we all can do as individual travelers to preserve the integrity of our environment, the following list has been compiled from a range of sources, including the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and is intended for use by the general public:

Respect wildlife and their natural habitats
12Observe wildlife quietly and from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Do not disturb wildlife or plants for a “better look”. Never feed wildlife. Feeding animals makes them habituated to and reliant on humans, and often leads to attacks and possible death for the animal.

Respect indigenous peoples and local communities
Opening your mind to other cultures and traditions, and being respectful of diversity, can transform your travel experience. Learn as much as possible about your destination before you arrive even, and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions. Remember to always be tolerant and respectful of local social and cultural traditions and practices. Avoid behaviour that could offend the local population. Any tourism activities should be conducted in harmony with the attributes and traditions of the host regions and countries and in respect for their laws, practices and customs.

Prevent the spread of disease
Before departure, check with health professionals about any vaccinations you may need in the country or countries you are visiting. Ensure that your vaccinations are up to date to prevent the risk of introducing new diseases to your destinations. Take precautions commensurate with the risks involved and consult medical advice as necessary.

Prevent spread of invasive alien species
As a traveler, whether you know it or not, you pick up a lot of “hitchhikers” along the way. These hitchhikers can come in many forms. Seeds, insect egg, and other living material can hitchhike on your shoes to new locations (both your destination and your home on your way back), where they might become invasive alien species. Invasive alien species often lead to the elimination of local species and is one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss. When natural habitats for wildlife are degraded and biodiversity is lost, crucial ecosystem services are compromised also for humans, most often affecting first the poor and the most vulnerable, women and children.

Be vigilant when making purchases
The purchases we make can have a profound impact on wildlife. Think twice before buying or consuming something made out of an exotic tree, plant or wild animal or rare rock or fossil. Some species, and products made with them, are because of their endangered nature, banned or restricted from being traded or imported/exported. Therefore travellers would be contributing to the demise of the species and breaking the law to buy them or travel with them. Other products and the materials they’re made with might also be using biodiversity/species in a non-sustainable manner (even if not endangered at the present) and travellers should encourage the sustainable use of biodiversity. If in doubt, consult credible sources like CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and WWF. WWF_25mm_no_tabGenerally refrain from buying products such as bags made from wild leather, carvings made from ivory, or mounted insects, shells or animals. Often sound alternatives are available, such as purchasing handicrafts made by local artisans where the profits go directly to local communities rather than poachers or unscrupulous traders. Safeguarding a country’s wildlife is the most sustainable way of securing the future for the people who depend on it for survival.

Bargaining and haggling: Colourful markets and bazaars are among the highlights of every journey. Haggling has to be learned, though. Do only haggle if you are really interested in buying something: Haggling is communication as well as game. Be fair. The more you smile while haggling, the more fun it will be. If you accept the first-mentioned price with a grim face, you will lose money and not be a partner for a fair and good trade. At oriental bazaars, a glass of tea is part of the ritual. Accepting it won’t oblige you to buy anything. If you don’t like haggling, you better buy in shops where there are fixed prices

Street hawkers: Tourism does not benefit everyone to the same degree. Locals who don’t have formal jobs in tourism might try to make a living by selling self-made jewellery or food. If a street hawker approaches you at the beach, bear in mind that he or she also tries to earn a living from tourism. Be respectful towards street hawkers at the beach. They try to earn a living for themselves and their families. Don’t react in an annoyed manner if their approach initially seems obtrusive. Many street hawkers are extremely poor. They often have clear minimum prices. Don’t haggle mercilessly for every cent!

Water is a precious resource. It is very scarce in many tourist destinations and should not be wasted mindlessly. Inquire about the water conditions in your destination and choose hotels, which adapt their water use to the environment. Spacious hotel complexes with park-like pastures that need constant watering have tremendous water consumption. Only take short showers when water is scarce. Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth and report dripping taps. Refuse to have towels and bed linen changed every day in order to save water and chemicals.

Energy: Use energy economically, especially in countries of the timthumb maxresdefaultGlobal South. Do you really need air conditioning? If not, leave this power-guzzler turned off – additionally, you will avoid catching a cold. This also applies to heating: Reducing the room temperature from for example 20 to 18 degrees Celsius helps to economise 3 to 5 percent energy. If wood is scarce in the region you visit, you should refrain from a campfire, even if you really love it. Leave this precious resource to the locals who often don’t have alternatives. Make sure that kerosine and not wood is used for cooking on mountain hikes.

Sports and other activities: Many adventure sports damage the environment. Climbing, mountainbiking, rafting and others sports should only be practised in areas designated for this purpose. Don’t leave any garbage behind and refrain from explorations with motorised means of transport – nature is best experienced on foot or by bicycle! Stay on marked trails, refrain from illegal camping and don’t lit a fire. Take particular care when smoking.

Crime: All around the globe – and especially in tourist destinations – there is criminality. The lack of prospect for many young people and malfunctioning legal systems are reasons for criminality. Be attentive and watchful. Keep your money and documents close to your body and put valuables in various pockets. You should not be afraid, as fear won’t help in any situation. Look up emergency numbers and English-speaking doctors before you start your journey.
In protected areas, access only the places open to visitors
The world’s national parks and nature reserves receive around eight billion visits every year, according to a recent study1. Increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development, provided well-functioning management systems are in place. When travelling on foot, stay on established tracks whenever possible to minimise disturbance or damage to the soil and vegetated surfaces. Where a track does not exist, take the most direct route and avoid vegetation, fragile terrain and wildlife. Never touch or harass wild animals. Refrain from illegal camping and don’t light fires.

Be careful when diving near coral reefs
Coral reefs are very delicate and biodiverse ecosystems, and extremely endangered globally. Never touch them, step on them, or damage them by snorkeling or diving too close. Avoid using sunscreen if possible when diving near them. If you must use sunscreen, avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound. Many commonly used sunscreens can both kill and cause DNA damage in coral. The best way to protect coral reefs when diving is to cover your skin with a long-sleeve shirt, rash guard and wet suit.

Sustainable travel tips

Do like the locals
If possible, choose locally owned lodges and hotels. Use local buses, car rental companies and airlines. Buy locally made handcrafts and products. Respect livelihoods of local vendors and artisans by paying a fair price (i.e. do not try to haggle prices down below a reasonable level). Eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets, and attend local festivals and events. If you have the means, hire local guides with in-depth knowledge of the area.

Choose nature-friendly accommodation
Ask hotels/lodges about their environmental policies. Do they have an environmental policy? Have they implemented energy and water saving measures – for example, spacious hotel complexes with park-like pastures that need constant watering have tremendous water consumption. Do they contribute to local conservation efforts and support local communities? Do they compost? Recycle? Reuse towels and bed linens for multiple days. Avoid using the hotel laundry if possible, as they typically wash each guest’s clothes separately

20140929_093859Conserve water and power
Take short showers (the average hotel guest uses over 300 litres of water per night/in a luxury hotel it is approximately 1800 litres). Globally, tourists consume three times the amount of freshwater contained in Lake Superior per year in freshwater, and use 80% of Japan’s primary energy supply. Therefore, turn off the taps while shaving and brushing your teeth, report dripping taps and turn off lights and heating or air conditioning when not in use. Reuse towels for multiple days.

Eat wisely
Choose wisely what you put on your plate. Try to choose locally sourced produce that is in season. Be aware that certain endangered species may be on the menu without your knowledge. Ask local conservation organizations for a list of what to look out for.

Avoid plastic
Reduce the use of single-use plastics at the individual level by using reusable shopping bags and water bottles. Do not use straws to drink. Buy sodas in glass bottles that can be recycled. Choose cosmetic and personal care products that don’t contain microplastics – as microplastics tend not to be filtered out during sewage treatment and are released directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Don’t litter
Dispose waste responsibly. Carry back all non-biodegradable litter. If you’re camping, leave campsites litter-free before departing.

Slow travel
If you have the time, take the bus, train, or ship where you can. It is more environmentally friendly. Try to fly less frequently and stay in one place for a longer time. When you do need to fly, opt for non-stop flights rather than connections. Fewer flights mean fewer emissions.

Stay informed
Be informed as to what you as a traveler can do to ensure the best experience possible, for both you and for the environment:

UN World Tourism Organization – Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/global-code-ethics-tourism
UN World Tourism Organization – The Responsible Tourist and Traveler, a practical guide for travelers: http://ethics.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/responsibletouristbrochureen.pdf
UN World Tourism Organization – Tips for a responsible traveler: http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/tipsforresponsibletraveller25-01.pdf
Green Passport – UN Environment initiative helps travelers make tourism a sustainable activity: www.unep.fr/greenpassport/
Buyer Beware – Guide to souvenirs to avoid while traveling: http://assets.worldwildlife.org/publications/315/files/original/Buyer-Beware.pdf?1345686864&_ga=1.226170202.1531626328.1402066044
Tourism Review – News portal targeted at travel and tourism professionals:
www.tourism-review.com/
The International Ecotourism Society – Non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ecotourism: www.ecotourism.org/
The World Travel and Tourism Council – Brings together major players in the travel and tourism sector, enabling them to speak with one voice to governments and international bodies: www.wttc.org/tourism-for-tomorrow-awards/winners-and-finalists-2017/
Sustainable Travel International – Helps governments, companies, NGOs and local communities to use tourism to achieve the right balance between economic development, green growth, and protection of their natural and cultural assets: http://sustainabletravel.org/

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Labor Day Travel Gear Picks 2016

Greetings to all our readers and yes the flight of time, our most valuable asset, has brought us to the Second Annual Travel Product Review for 2016! We generally choose to release our review just before Labor Day—why? We don’t know why!….well maybe it ‘s that with Summer winding down in the Northeast U.S. where we live, we are searching for a reason the get psyched about the next 7-8 months of cold temps on their way…..”Winter Is Coming”… Fly South my friends, Fly South! My more pragmatic partner would say it’s the Travel Gear primer to the high season in the Caribbean which is just around the corner. Either way, we hope you find it helpful—we’ve put these products through their paces and want to share with you what we’ve found. And with Hurricane Hermine looming on our doorsteps hence we unveil our “Second Annual Travel Gear Picks for 2016”.

travel-gear-picks-2016

1)  Vizers $19.99
How do you improve on the most basic of sun products—THE VISOR? Well the guys at “Vizers” have figured it out…one of the things fairly evident when using a cloth visor at the beach is that after a few uses it starts to grow a coral reef…lol! Seriously it gets damp and stained with salt & sweat & sea water and starts to loose some of its freshness and shape. The designers at Vizers have taken all that into consideration and created a lightweight foam visor that is comfortable, colorful, durable….it FLOATS! And best of all is easily washed with a bit of soap & water. What’s also exciting they’ve created a line of Vizers specifically being sold with Aruba emblems at all the “I Love Aruba” Stores.  Josh sent us his “ARUBA” designed Vizers and we’re sure you’ll agree they are adorable and practical, great for the Aruban “outback”!
One more sweet feature is you can customize your Vizers with “TOUTS” which are charms to embellish and represent your favorite sport from dive flag to Martini glass…
http://vizers.com/touts/
We feel it a great upgrade on a beach essential. Pack wells too! Adjustable for sizes from kids to XXL guys—hubby loves it!

Available on Vizers.com

2) Boyd’s Cosmetic Brush Travel Set $30.00
You’re going on vacation and while you can’t bring all your worldly possessions you don’t have deny yourself the basics if you have the right compact gear. From our friends at Boyd’s on Fifth Avenue in NYC we were able to test out their Renoir brand signature 7Pc. Sable makeup Brush set. The set is built for travel in a black PVC pouch with snap and holds 7 mini makeup brushes of the highest quality. Packs nice & flat with an extra pocket. What we like best is the fact that the sable brushes are luxuriously soft and do not loose bristles when used. A real winner from Renior by Boyd’s–a signature line from an NYC Cosmetic company for nearly 60 years.

Available at Boyds.com

3) Dynotag® Web/GPS Enabled QR charm Bracelet $24.95
My partner and I were having a conversation and he wondered if the QR code technology could be used in some way to store personal or medical information in a bracelet when you travel. Lo! and behold we found the DYNOTAG QR Smart Tag bracelets. They are called “passive response” and the way they work is you create a profile at their website adding medical info or ID info and just wear the bracelet. Should first responders need to assist you they scan the tag with the many scanner apps that are out there and pull up your profile on their phone.
Really cool is that they make the bracelet in a waterproof model with really cute tropical beach charms—so you disguise the ID bracelet as regular costume jewelry. Ingenious, my dear Watson!
Also shown is the orange web bracelet if charm bracelets are not for you. Dynotags are available for luggage, pets….and even kids! Cool uses for technology in travel.

Available at Amazon.com

4) SQUEEZE POD! – on-the-go natural toiletries $19.99
We love the name for this simple but handy little product that has so many applications—literally & figuratively…SQUEEZE POD! It’s a very neat, pre-loaded toiletry bag so it’s perfect for grab-n-go last minute travel. The clear toiletry bag comes pre-filled with individual, leak-proof, single-use toiletry pods which are both hassle-free and TSA compliant. Included are 2each: shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Also 3 of each: facial cleanser, shave cream, moisturizing lotion, hand purifier, hair gel, & odor eliminator.
No time to fill up little travel bottles before the flight? Not prob just “SNAP. SQUEEZE.GO”
While I’m a bit of a tyrant with only using my hair products I would gladly use the body wash, hand purifier, and moisturizing lotion. Hubby will use the rest which includes shave cream.
Great item for camping, caravans and boats where storage space is at a premium! We like!
Available at 
Amazon.com

5) Mosquito Repellents – the new necessity in travel!
Not gonna sugar-coat this but not an expert  on mosquito vectors either. As a kid, I remember spending late summer evenings playing Frisbee on the streets until midnight and realizing when I got home I had been a bug feast—bit up in 10-12 spots. Besides the endless itching & basting in calamine lotion, it was a harmless rite of summer and nothing to worry about.
This year things are more real and precaution isn’t a bad idea—this opine from the Frisbee free-spirit…we had some criteria in our search for the best organic mosquito products on the market!
1) the product must be organic and deet-free 2) travel well in a small bottle meeting TSA regs. And lastly 3) smell great!
We found two lovely products that make us feel good about applying essential oils to our skin and not harsh chemicals…..We liked Amrita Aromatherapy Lemon Eucalyptus Bugs Be Gone as it is safe for children & babies and field-tested in 4 oz. bottle. It repels mosquitoes, fleas, ticks & chiggers. Available on Amazon.com for $10.13

Whole Clarity states their mission is to “Raise the Vibration of the Planet through excellent health and wellness and mindful living.” such a beautiful idea, in its simplicity. The packaging is a clean design and states it repels mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and ticks. The bottle is 3.3 oz and we can’t stop enjoying the scent.
Available on Amazon.com for $14.97 or at wholeclarity.com (love their website!)
Better to be prepared from home as you may find repellent quite expensive to purchase when traveling. As a final thought…oils of lemon/eucalyptus are recommended as a repellent by the CDC http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

6) Bags for Travel Storage Within Luggage

Alku Travel Genuine Nylon Shoe Bags –$14.99
I’ve put them in supermarket bags, pillowcases and purses always wishing someone would design the right bag to store shoes in my luggage. The nylon shoe bags from Alku Travel are sturdy and elegant with space for up to 3 pairs of shoes in each bag. The floral logo adds an air of richness and flair to the bags. The product come with 3 drawstring stopper bags and I can think of many additional travel uses—laundry, toys , souvenirs…..basically, anything you’d like to separate and protect in your luggage.

Available at Amazon.com

UU Family Toiletry Bag Makeup Pouch – $6.50
This toiletry/cosmetic bag has 3 fab qualities!
1) It’s clear, so it’s TSA friendly….no unpacking, just pull out from your luggage 2) Cute, shiny patent blue leather-like trim is very stylish and VEGAN! and 3) It has a nice larger capacity, more than your average makeup case as we were able to fit quite a few extra items in the bag. It’s a great little bag! and also available on Amazon Prime. Lastly, we spoke with the owners who are the sweetest folks!

Available at Amazon.com

Disclosure: Some of these products were received as samples in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising.

Product Reviews by Christina Canzoneri