We’re all going on a, summer…staycation!
Staycation – a vacation, but you stay at home! Well not always in your home, but in your home country. This is the new (old) idea that to have less impact, we can switch some of our previous abroad trips, to holidays based near to where you already live. Being a tourist in your own country!
This month, I got back from my trip in the Outer Hebrides. I was staying on the Isle of Eriskay, while island hopping across to Barra and the Uist’s. This holiday was filled with nature, sea breeze, and making our own fun. I have fond memories of yearly trips to the Isle of Harris, with the freedom and relaxation it brought. These locations, on the edge of the world, have bountiful amounts to entertain yourself with…if you know how to make your own fun.
What these holidays are too, is less impactful. First of all, taking a staycation doesn’t require long-haul flights across the world. They can involve just a short car trip, or public transport stint to the corner of your country you want to explore. They also don’t require you to be buying lots of new accessories or clothes, because the weather is most likely going to be the same.
Let me fill you in with all of the zero waste, and low impact activities we managed to cram into our week holiday!
Firstly, we went because we were taking part in the Isle of Barra – Barrathon! This is a half marathon (13.1 miles) around the island. What we actually found out is the ring road which goes around Barra is exactly this distance. It was a boiling day, and we got glorious sunshine the whole way around. It was a fantastic way to see the whole island and complete my first race.
One thing that came to mind, is that it is a common thing to cycle round Milport, which is 10 miles (give or take), and Barra has this opportunity too! You could rent some bikes and cycle round the whole island in no time. After this, there was lots of relaxing beach walks along miles of coastline. A great way to relax the muscles and get our daily dose of vitamin sea! There were also museums, cafes, art shops and local crafts people with places to pop in and see what’s going on.
One mantra I live by, is that we should ‘leave everywhere better than when we found it’, so for us, that meant litter picking. Now, they weren’t always multiple bin bags full, sometimes it was just a handful of stuff while we were walking along a beach. But that’s ok. And other times it was piles and piles.
The important thing, is that once we left, there was less waste and less plastic on that beach. The next people wouldn’t have to deal with the same sight, and the wildlife are at less risk. If everyone just grabs what they see, the problem will be sorted on a daily basis!
Tips for litter picking when away from your local area.
Have a handy bag to collect it in, so you can bin it at a later date. Find out if there is a local recycling centre, or dumpster style bin if you are going to be collecting a lot of stuff. And also try and link up with any local groups doing the same – you never know, you might be able to join them if you’re there at the right time!
Not straws, not plastic bags…
One thing I think is vital for people to understand though is that the most common plastic pollution found in our oceans is FISHING NETS. Not straws. Not coffee cups. Not plastic bags. But fishing nets. While all of these other things are easy to refuse, reduce and reuse.
Fishing nets, and all fishing equipment isn’t something we normally talk about. Why? Because the answer to this is beyond one person. But it is not beyond change. What has to change is ultimately what we eat, and how we get it.
The simple solution would be to stop eating fish. I mean, Dory said it first – fish are friends, not food.
However, like most things, it’s not that simple. Especially while being in the outer Hebrides in Scotland, you see that whole communities are dependent on fishing for livelihoods, and it would mean cutting them off from their local economy and employment.
So, what can we do?
- Cut down on fish dramatically
- Only eat responsibly sourced fish, and from local regions (avoiding exotic species)
- Avoiding damaged fish stocks (remember the cod issues not too long ago)
- Campaign for change with fishing practices, such as shark fining, and by-catch laws
I am by no means the expert on fishing laws; however, I remember watching Hugh’s Fish Fight which opened my eyes to some of the issues within fishing. It touched upon the waste which happens, and how we can combat that.
If we are going to continue eating fish, how can we do it sustainably, using every part with the least waste possible. I recommend you check it out!
Goals for the future
All in all, this holiday was full of fun, laughter, beaches and relaxation! One I highly recommend you try a staycation soon.
One of my personal goals is to cut down my travel. I have an electric car, and mainly walk and use public transport, but there is always more you can do. For me, that is trying to cut out flight. And, when you have beautiful Scotland right on your doorstep, there is no need to go anywhere else! No doubt, there is still much of Scotland you still have to explore.
Next on my list of adventures, is checking out the charging points around the highlands to go on an electric car road trip!