Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.
As Canadians start digging out sunscreen, canoe paddles and those little flag patches for our backpacks, it's equally important to plan what we'll leave behind on our summer holidays.
Will the land and people who host our family adventures be as happy as we are when we leave?
From our means of transportation and our choice of activities, to how we interact with the local people and what we bring back in our suitcases, being environmentally and socially conscious vacationers can restore both ourselves and the planet.
If you're still in the destination selection stage, check out EthicalTraveler.org's annual top 10 ethical travel spots and vote for solid environmental and human rights records with your wallet. If you're "staycationing" and you live in Manitoba, take on the Eco Explore challenge by collecting selfies at ecologically rich attractions, like the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary or Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve.
We seek out opportunities to engage with local culture, people, businesses to see a place as its own residents do. We hunt for local festivals to support, like when Craig stumbled on Portugal's surprisingly fascinating sardine fest, bringing home event posters as low-cost, low-waste souvenirs. You can befriend your taxi driver, using the same one for the whole trip to get an authentic (and informative) experience.
This week's question: What's your eco or socially conscious vacation tip?
"Remember the economic realities of your new currency. A few extra rupees, baht or pesos won't ruin you, so don't get all bent out of shape when expected to pay a few cents more for a ferry ride, a museum ticket, or an egg. When bargaining is the norm, negotiate fairly and with respect for the seller." – Michael McColl, co-founder of Ethicaltraveler.org in Berkeley, CA
"If you can walk, paddle or cycle there, or to get there, all the better. Expose children or reluctant outdoors people in short positive bits, so it becomes an innate lifetime choice to enjoy natural spaces." – Cathy Senecal, manager of global media relations, Travel Manitoba
"Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so you don't rely on individually-wrapped, prepackaged food. Bring a batch of home-made energy bars or premix pancake ingredients so you just add an egg and water. You'll produce less garbage and have healthier food." – Hugo Voyer, camping product manager at Mountain Equipment Co-op, Vancouver