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With one billion international tourists now travelling the world each year, it’s becoming increasingly important to think about the enormous impact that results from such a large number of adventurous folk traversing the planet. And while you probably always plan to be a regular part of the travelling masses, you can actually do so with little negative impact on the societies and environments that you visit. With 20,000 social enterprises operating within Australia, equating for an estimated 2-3% of overall GDP, there are so many ethical businesses operating within our community already, it’s merely a matter of including them in your itinerary.
Supporting and discovering diverse areas in a community is a great way to learn about local cultures, foods, and meet an interesting variety of people (and that’s why we travel, right?!). So why not discover Sydney’s multicultural heart while exploring world cuisines as varied as Arabic, Laos, South American or Fijian-Indian by jumping on a gastronomic adventure with Taste Tours.
If you’re feeling peckish, but would prefer to stay closer to the city, head to Sydney’s bohemian inner west suburb of Newtown and chow down at Lentil As Anything restaurant, which is run by volunteers as well as the long-term unemployed and marginalised people – it’s also based on trust so you pay for your meal what you think it’s worth.
While in the neighbourhood, head to The Social Outfit who provide education, training and employment opportunities for refugee and new migrant communities and sell clothes designed by prominent Australian fashion labels.
Then when visiting nearby Redfern, drop into the Martian Embassy for some hilarious gifts like a Flying Saucer Repair Kit or Emergency Space Food. All proceeds go to the Sydney Story Factory, a creative writing centre for disadvantaged young people.
If farmer’s markets are your thing, when visiting the popular SMH Grower’s Market or Eveleigh Farmer’s Market, be sure to pick up a loaf or two from The Bread and Butter Project, whose entire profits go towards baker training and employment pathways for communities in need.
Or at Surry Hills Markets, be sure to pop to the Devonshire Tea Community Café, where you’ll be helping fund the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre. Contributing to the above initiatives will help you sleep well at night, as will staying at the Y Hotel Hyde Park Sydney, which helps to fund crucial programs for Australian women and girls.
Melbourne is an exciting cultural hub that prides itself on a vibrant café and restaurant scene. For a uniquely Australian foodie experience, dine at award-winning Charcoal Lane, a Mission Australia social enterprise which uses seasonal native ingredients, and runs youth traineeships including for Aboriginal youth.
For great coffee with a conscience, take a short tram ride from the city centre to Richmond, which hosts a new bright industrial-style café called Long Street Coffee, which partners with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to find refugee employees for the café who otherwise find it difficult to get work.
In addition to being a foodie city, Melbourne is also great for shopping. If you plan to indulge your passion for fashion while in town, keep an eye on Dear Gladys, which hosts regular pop-up stores and stalls, while helping to assist disadvantaged women to find and stay in employment.
For a unique urban experience, take a tour with Melbourne City Rooftop Honey and help be part of a global movement to save the honey bee – oh, and you get to visit off-the-beaten-path rooftop hives and try some delicious honey in the process!
Speaking of rooftop beehives, one is located on top of Alto Hotel on Bourke, a truly green business that takes environmentalism to all aspects of the hotel, including energy efficiency, rainwater toilets, complimentary recharging of electric vehicles, and more – they even have an ALTO GREEN TEAM to keep their commitment to the environment in check.
Queensland is well-known for having an abundance of natural beauty – think endless beaches, picturesque hinterland and pristine rainforest. By staying at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, not only are you on the border of the stunning Lamington National Park, but you are also staying in an ecotourism accredited resort that has a commitment to nature conservation.
For a truly magical experience that has been approved by Eco Tourism Australia, go on a Glow Worm Tour which visits the World Heritage Springbrook National Park Natural Bridge section, which has the largest density of glow worms in the world!
All this exploring will leave you exhilarated, but probably also hungry! So, for a meal that will leave both your stomach and conscience satisfied, head to the Greenhouse Factory Restaurant and Bar. This modern vegan restaurant uses 100% plant-based organic ingredients, and has a fit-out of recycled timber.
If you need a caffeine hit to get you through that long rainforest walk, go no further than Kiva Han Roasting House where all the coffee is organic and fair trade – imported from countries like Ethiopia, PNG, and Nicaragua.
Speaking of fair trade, while checking out one of Australia’s best beach breaks at Burleigh Heads, pop into Scoco Eco for a beautiful jewellery store owned by Scott Louis Rogers, one of only two certified fair-trade jewellers in Australia. This ethical jeweller also partners with a Colombian women’s eco-village for their recycled paper packaging.