Many Canadians will soon be heading south to escape the snow and cold, and with a little help they can be Green Tourists according to Michael O’Sullivan, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Canada (HSC). "Well-meaning but uninformed tourists often leave their mark on these distant environmentally-sensitive lands. When it comes to visiting wilderness areas, the idea of taking only photographs and leaving only footprints helps local people, wildlife and the environment."

While some people unknowingly bring back items that they shouldn’t have, others callously try to smuggle live animals and animal parts back into the country. "People caught bringing animals or other illegal items into the country can face criminal charges," warns Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director.

To prevent animal cruelty and minimize environmental degradation of the global village, the Humane Society of Canada would like people traveling to other countries to follow these simple steps and tread lightly on the earth:

  1. Don’t purchase products made from coral or tropical hardwoods as these items originate in irreplaceable tropical and undersea forests.

  2. Don’t acquire animals, animal parts or items made from animals including animal skins, items made of ivory and turtle shells.

  3. Leave plants where they are.

  4. Learn about the people, animals, plants and geography of the countries you are visiting.

  5. Don’t feed, scare or interfere with wild animals.

  6. Patronize small, local businesses that are environmentally friendly.

  7. Support local environmental and conservation efforts.

  8. Travel established roads, trails and paths.

  9. Travel in an environmentally friendly manner; walk, bicycle or use vehicles which carry several people at a time.

  10. Conserve water and use it in a wise manner.

  11. Turn off fans, air conditioners and lights when not in use. Minimize your use of these energy dependent items.

  12. Eliminate or reduce your use of chemical pesticides. Try wearing long sleeve shirts and put mosquito nets over beds to keep mosquitoes away.

  13. Use local guides and join environmentally friendly tourist groups.

  14. Purchase locally made arts and crafts that are not made from animals or plants.

  15. Stay at locally owned facilities - avoid resorts.

  16. Don’t be involved, either directly or indirectly, with anything that causes or leads to animal suffering. Report animal cruelty and environmental violations to the proper authorities.

  17. When possible, travel during the "off-season" to minimize environmental impacts experienced during popular tourist periods.

  18. Follow the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.

  19. Minimize your use of disposable items and dispose of these items appropriately.

  20. Share your environmentally friendly experiences with friends, family and others when you return home. You might even offer to provide an educational presentation to other interested environmentally friendly travelers at your local library or similar venue.