National Geographic, the world’s oldest and most respected travel publication, recently began a campaign called “Planet or Plastic,” challenging themselves and their readers to enjoy traveling without relying on single-use plastics.
In order to test their commitment to this idea, they sent Marie McGrory, an experienced travel producer, to Belize. They chose Belize because it is a developing country that relies on eco-tourism for a significant portion of its economy. Belize has also recently pledged to ban the sale and use of single-use plastic by April 2019, and its offshore reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was recently removed from the list of endangered areas thanks to strong conservation efforts by the government and local NGOs.
With more than 200 miles of coastline and the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere, pollution from single-use plastic is an important issue for the people of Belize. After a referendum was overwhelmingly approved by voters, the government of Belize imposed a complete ban on all offshore drilling. More than half of Belize’s territory is a protected conservation area, and the government has strongly committed to preserving the health and diversity of the environment.
After spending more than a week in Belize, National Geographic travel producer Marie McGrory calculated that she had successfully avoided 79 pieces of single-use plastic while in Belize. Her greatest challenge, ironically, was on the flight over to Belize as drinks and snacks served onboard were only available in single-use plastic options.
McGrory advised travelers coming to Belize to pack a few handy items to make avoiding single-use plastic much easier such as a reusable shopping bag, toiletries and sunscreen in reusable containers, a few collapsible containers for snacks, a glass or metal straw, and one or two reusable water bottles. Tap water is not recommended for visitors, but most lodges, hotels, and resorts have purified water available so you can refill your bottles.
If you’d like to enjoy a great vacation in Belize, be sure to stay at Chabil Mar Resort located on the stunningly beautiful Placencia Peninsula. This luxury beachfront resort has its own tropical garden, two infinity swimming pools, and a seafront pier where you can enjoy gourmet meals and delicious cocktails made from fresh, local ingredients.
Chabil Mar offers eco-friendly tours such as scuba diving and snorkeling on the reef, hiking trips to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, boat tours of the well-named Monkey River, and trips to explore ancient Maya ruins.