buying souvenirs

Responsible Travel Series | Buying Souvenirs

At some point on your trip, you’ll want to buy souvenirs. Responsible travel includes educating yourself on what trinkets you absolutely must stay away from. Your purchases will either do extreme harm to the wildlife or the ecosystem, or they will support the local people and their economy in an ethical way. Here’s what you need to know:

Don’t Buy Ivory, Tortoiseshell, Reptile Skins, or Furs

Illegal wildlife trade depends on tourists to buy trinkets made from animal parts. At least 33,000 elephants are killed every year just for their ivory. If that isn’t enough to stop you, customs agents from more than 181 countries seize souvenirs protected by the International trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Besides being unethical, purchasing these items is also illegal and can cost you a lot more than you bargained for.

Don’t Buy Coral or Seashells

Coral is the basis of entire ecosystems and supports the local fish and other species. Harvesting coral and seashells for souvenirs has devastating effects and can take decades to grow back.

responsible travel

Don’t Buy A Shatoosh

When travelling to Tibet or Nepal, you’ll find beautifully hand-woven items, called shatoosh. They are made from chiru wool. Chiru comes from the endangered Tibetan antelope.

Instead, Buy Local Handicrafts

Buying handicrafts from artisans is the best way to support the area economy and responsible travel. And you won’t be feeding any money into the illegal wildlife trade. Better yet, do your research ahead of time, and seek out organizations and social programs that empower the disadvantaged.

responsible travel

Handmade pottery from a women’s cooperative outside Marrakech

…And One More Thing

I’d like to add that in many countries it is expected that you bargain with the local merchants. Remember, what may be a small amount to you, could mean much more to them. Bargain, yes. But be willing and happy to pay a fair price, don’t bargain aggressively.

Do you want to give a shout out to any co-operatives or social programs that sell hand-made, ethical souvenirs?  If so, leave the details and a link in the reply section below.

Green Travel Tips

Affiliate Marketing Links:

I have a marketing connection to G Adventures. Through the use of affiliate links, I may collect fees from purchases made. There would be no additional cost to you. I’m very choosy who I associate with, and my links are only to products or services I have either used or have complete trust.

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Comments 3

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  2. Hey! I found your blog on #glttravelbloggers! I thought this looked like an interesting read as I am always trying to be a sustainable as I can when travelling. Love the good advice on purchasing wisely. I wanted to share the link to a cooperative I found in Vietnam called Sapa O’ Chau I found them when travelling in Sapa and they do amazing work with local tribes in Sapa, providing hiking treks but also selling sustainable/ local handicrafts. Thanks for the great read! Jemma

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