I am one of the founders of On The Go Explorers, a blog that champions domestic, affordable solutions to travel, and most primarily Sustainable Travel. We are based both in Nairobi and Mombasa.
We published our first blog post on 24 Sept 2019. We are eagerly waiting to celebrate our first blogverssary. It’s only in 2020 that we decided to incorporate Sustainability and Conservation matters.
What I do
I am into Sustainable Travel, which is one of the ways to achieving Conservation. Sustainable travel, also known as Ecotourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs for visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities. I started by using the #tourism4SDGs hashtag to show how travel, directly and indirectly, helps us achieve the goals. After this, I went to products that travellers need to purchase to produce zero waste. Currently, I’m working on telling Green stories from hotels’ perspectives. They play a huge role.
I am targeting everyone in general, as people have different definitions of travel. To one, it’s taking a flight and going to a different city, to the other, it’s going to a nearby forest to rejuvenate. All in all, these travellers need to know that their little actions have a huge effect on the environment. Sustainability is more than a duty; it’s a lifestyle for everyone.
I empower my audience on how it is important to pick green stays, ditch plastic, buy eco-friendly products from local companies such bamboo cutlery (the list is endless in terms of the amount of waste we pack during travels) plastic bottles, plastic razor, plastic toothbrushes etc. How to use their trip to contribute to economic and social development and participate in wildlife conservation.
To see everyone be keen on their impact on the environment. It’s more than just planting trees. To see people taking this journey personally. I love saying, “make it a lifestyle, not a duty to live sustainably.” I love seeing the small changes everyone is doing. We don’t need many people doing this perfectly. Just everyone doing it imperfectly.
Impact of my work and changes I’ve seen
This is an interesting one! I sometimes don’t know how to measure that the work has an impact, but every time someone sends me an eco-friendly package they have bought from a local company, it makes me so happy. When someone reaches out to interview me even when I’m quite new in this industry makes me elated. Also, when someone tags me on something that talks about sustainability. I’m sure my friends don’t care about this as much as I do, but they are always sending me a lot of information, which matters a lot to me. I know they are trying to learn more, as I am also. The support is amazing.
Highlights of my work and impact
- We have recently done a project for Ibis Styles documenting their Green Story. This has to be the highlight. Them reaching out felt like receiving an Oscar.
- When I’m involved in a lot of conversations involving sustainability, it makes me feel like my opinion is needed. Haha!
- We’ve worked with several campsites like Pundamilias Camp, who are eco-friendly in setting up the site. Keeping in mind accommodations are one of the biggest emitters of CO2.
- Getting interviews like this one and one from Wellness Feed, who has been mentioned as one of 75 most sustainable blogs and has won an award! It is a big deal for me.
- Seeing people interested in knowing how they can be part of the solution.
- Being approached to speak at Africa Tourism and SDGs Virtual Summit 2020 happening this August.
- Working with local brands such as Andvironment Straws and Green Thing, who are champions of eco-friendly products here in Kenya. I’m also finding myself approaching sustainable brands for giveaways only.
A weird one: I get many people asking me of where to get sustainable products for their hair, people into sustainable fashion reaching out and now I tend to know much more on sustainability as a whole it’s a big spectrum I must say.
Challenge while undertaking conservation activities:
A lot of education is needed, and most people don’t understand why this is important. For a long time, travel has always been fun and relaxation, showing the beautiful side of the trips, and if there is any impact, then we assume there are people to sort the issues out.
No one is ready for these tough conversations yet, and if they are, we need more voices.
I want to show the ugly side of travel and see solutions coming out of it. I have to say that I have seen some amazing ones, such as FliFlopi. (The boat made from hundreds of flip flops)
Message to people who don’t know much about conservation
when we have moments when we think to ourselves –” I’m only one person I can’t make a difference” – we need to remind ourselves of Gandhi’s message -“Be the change you want to see in the world.’
I’d also love to see people take time to learn more about conservation, especially when so much is happening. We’ve seen the earth healing, speak of seeing Mt Kilimanjaro from your balcony, and at the same time, sad happenings like forest fires. There is no better time to be part of the narrative.
Being a woman in conservation
Ha! I love this word. I am more connected to nature. I cry at things I wouldn’t bother with a year ago. I love that we are many, and we support each other. Social Media can be a beautiful space to connect with other people!
Most importantly, I love that this is a black canvas, and I’m painting it slowly and surely to tell a beautiful story.
Read related stories here Women in Conservation
Written by Nelly Wambua: Edited by Caroline Kibii