We’ve written a series of articles with tips for traveling green on the return trip home. At the end of my study abroad trip to Russia, I found myself scrambling to find souvenirs for family and friends.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a market and found awesome locally-made sustainable souvenirs a few hours before I boarded my plane in Moscow. I even bought a few for myself.
Examples of not so sustainable souvenirs
I cringe when I remember going “souvenir shopping” growing up. I especially remember our beach trips, to Biloxi, MS, to Florida and to Hilton Head, SC. Many times we bought shell necklaces, painted coral, dried starfish, and sand dollars. I would never do that now.
Even as an adult in my late twenties, I regrettably recall politely declining a street painter outside a museum in Paris, France, and instead buying a mass-produced print from a stand. Knowing better now, I would never make those choices. It’s so important to find sustainable souvenirs for so many reasons.
Here’s what to look for in an eco-conscious souvenir.
Tips to find sustainable souvenirs
Support the people who live in the country you’re visiting. Buy local crafts, like earrings from a native jeweler and baskets crafted by the person selling them. Plus, the further your souvenir travels to get to you, the greater impact it has on the environment. If you are unsure about an item, look if it has a “made in” tag.
From a locally-owned business.
Another way to ensure you are buying a sustainable souvenir is to support the local economy. You can easily do this by purchasing your sustainable souvenirs from locally-owned shops or street stands.
Made from sustainable materials.
Avoid rare wood that may have been harvested unsustainably or illegally. Always avoid animal parts (animal skins, tusks, etc.) since they may have come from an endangered animal or might have been poached.
Something the region is known for.
Get your friends something they can’t find at home. The Marie Sharp’s hot sauce and jelly I bought in Belize were big hits. We we were in Iowa with kids, we bought them a matchstick making hobby kit from Matchstick Marvels. What a perfect, sustainable memory.
We had friends who visited Thailand and brought back mini notebooks for all the first grade classes in the school their son attended. They were made from animal dung (and were a huge hit).
Lightweight and small.
The heavier something is, the more resources it burns reaching its final destination. The lightest souvenir I’ve purchased was a locally-produced papyrus painting in Egypt.
Instead of buying yourself something from the place you are traveling to, you might consider buying something in advance, for your trip instead. An easy choice would be a stainless steel water bottle that you can take with you and use for years to come while not on vacation. You would be doing well by the earth every time you took it with you to refill.
It is a great idea to support the economy wherever you are visiting. And because so many of us have so much “stuff” already, a welcome souvenir might be food, preserves, spices, tea, etc. from wherever you are visiting. Think in advance about this if you are traveling out of the country for what needs to be declared at customs.
Also consider if you are just carrying on luggage, what you are permitted to bring. If all of this checks out, local wine, a jar of locally-produced honey, fruit preserves and jams, tea, etc. can all be useful and appreciated sustainable souvenirs.
Our favorite sustainable souvenir tip…
Take it yourself.
Make sure you bring your camera. One of the easiest and most meaningful sustainable souvenirs can be one you capture yourself. Before you leave your destination, make sure you have one excellent, frame-worthy photograph.
It could be of scenery of the place you are visiting; of you standing in front of something from the city, like a monument or a waterfall; or it could be of the local scene. Just be sure to take culturally sensitive photos wherever you are.
When you get home, develop your best picture into a print. If it is high enough resolution, it would be wonderful to enlarge and hang in your home. As time goes on, you may want to create a vacation wall of memories.
Where can you find sustainable souvenirs?
Depending where you are in the world, the best place to find locally-made souvenirs are from outside stands, markets, and stalls. They are usually in high-traffic places, on the streets near museums, near famous sites for the town.
There may be certain days for them, or they may be there every day. There were tables/booths set out near lookout points in Sedona, AZ. They are permanent stalls built around the Four Corners National Monument (where Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico intersect) where Native Americans sell their wares. Local vendors were all over the streets in Paris, Florence, Rome, and Venice. We even found sustainable souvenirs in Nebraska when we went to Boys Town to see the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps.
It is easy to fall into the trap of buying souvenirs that are cute and filled with plastic, like magnets and key chains. And there is nothing really wrong with those items, especially if you are buying them from a local vendor. It’s just that we think you can oftentimes do better.
It is natural to want a token memory and that might be something native to the region you visit. If it comes from a renewable source and was produced locally and safely, you can feel good about buying it. Getting a feel for the culture and visiting the native sellers can help you to support the economy where you are visiting.
Always try to buy sustainable souvenirs to do the most good you can.
Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact
How to Travel Greener Tips and Eco-friendly Preparations
How Green can you be On The Road
Turn Any Vacation Green
6 Awesome Travel Ideas for a Green Vacation
15 Reasons to Travel Green to be a Responsible Traveler
What is Green Travel ~ Definition of Different Types
Souvenirs From Las Vegas You Can’t Go Home Without
When Las Vegas comes to mind, images of the glaringly neon-bright Las Vegas casino strip enters your head. Your mind is swirling at the thought of the hundreds, no, thousands, of slot machines just waiting to have their buttons pushed and hoping they will spew out gold coin after gold coin.
A city that never sleeps, a city filled with wedding chapels and a city filled with world class stage and cabaret shows, that is Sin City, Las Vegas. Every traveller buys souvenirs, and Las Vegas has the biggest range available!
Las Vegas Slot Machine Money Box
This piggy bank is shaped like a slot machine, complete with the Las Vegas sign on the front. As you fill up your money box, bells and whistles will go off, with flashing lights announcing your deposit. This is an encouraging way for you to save towards your next Las Vegas trip.
You can purchase a range of authentic Elvis souvenirs to take home. True fans would love a faithfully recreated Elvis in Concert jacket that was worn by Elvis’ crew in the 70’s. There are also classic Elvis gold rimmed rock n’ roll sunglasses and a ‘Love Me Tender’ lunchbox.
Sin City Suckers
Take home suckers for everyone! These dice-shaped lollipops come in a range of flavours such as Orange You Lucky, Grape of Spades, 4 of a Lime and Pina Co-Slot-A. Think of Vegas every time you have one!
Collecting casino memorabilia is a popular purchase. You can buy used playing cards, casino chips or tokens and ‘cancelled’ dice. Holding the rolled dice in your hand will transport you back to the lavish gaming rooms of Las Vegas.
You can even buy vintage authentic slot machines. Each casino has its own full range of memorabilia. There are also signed photos of all the stars who have performed at the casinos, from the legendary Rat Pack made up of Frank Sinatra and pals to singers such as Cher and Liza Minnelli.
A digital camera means you can take hundreds of photos and put them on Facebook for your friends to see while you are away. Amongst all the snaps, there are bound to be some truly memorable ones, so while you’re holidaying, why not get them put on photo mugs or t-shirts as a souvenir of your trip. These make great keepsakes for yourself or gifts for friends.
Besides purchasing souvenirs, you will treasure your ticket stubs from the marvellous shows that you have seen. These make a truly memorable keepsake. Las Vegas is known as the world’s most exciting city and you won’t be disappointed.
People often choose a trip to Las Vegas to get away from the real world. The glitz, glamour and atmosphere is what people flock to see.
Las Vegas caters for families, backpackers and tourists of all levels. There are many options for family friendly fun plus lots of entertainment for adults.
Las Vegas can definitely cause overstimulation and perhaps a souvenir will be the only thing you remember of your trip!
(photo credit: 1)