For many people, sustainability sounds like something for alternative types who wear open sandals and baggy, colourful pants, who walk barefoot and only drink soy milk and chai tea. But is that really the case?

If you’re on our website, you probably know that sustainability is becoming increasingly important. And that everyone can contribute to a better world. But what exactly does that mean? And isn’t it something that only dull and boring people care about?

Well, no. I can imagine that it is difficult to understand exactly what sustainability is. Especially because it is such a broad and comprehensive topic. But that’s what makes it so important! Let’s start with the definition of the word sustainability according to the Cambridge online dictionary:

Okay, so doing something in a sustainable way means you can last a long time without causing damage. What does that mean for people like you and me? And important to us: how can you spend time in Africa in a sustainable way, for example during an internship, volunteer work or a holiday?

Sustainable travel is also the best for yourself!

Sustainable travel is so much more than reusing your water bottle and buying CO2 compensation when booking your flight ticket. It isn’t only paying attention to all kinds of practical things, but also having a certain mindset. Open yourself up to new experiences, listen to what someone says and stop just hearing the words and above all; don’t immediately judge. In these three examples you will see that sustainable thinking while traveling, actually ensures a better experience for yourself!

Hiking is not only an eco-friendly activity, it’s also a great way to get to know your new friends better!

1. Sustainable transport is not boring and dull

The search for sustainable ways of transport may not be the most exciting thing you can imagine. But do you have any idea how many special encounters can take place when you travel by local public transport? Just try putting your phone away on a bus or train. Time flies when you start a conversation with a woman who has just bought all kinds of delicious herbs and spices at the market. Or a young man on his way to his very first job interview. And imagine that you find yourself in the middle of a group of wedding guests and join in their party vibes!

2. Sustainable accommodations are beautiful and inspiring

Booking and staying at sustainable accommodations may sound boring. But did you know that many eco-friendly building techniques can be incredibly beautiful and inspiring? The people who work there often have special stories to tell. And how cool is it to perhaps walk around the vegetable garden with the kitchen team and collect your own food?! There is a huge variety of sustainable accommodations, so open your mind and do some research. You’ll see that it’s more fun than you expect. There is nothing better than going to sleep at night with a smile. Especially in a beautiful place in Africa at a sustainable accommodation!

Click here to read about some of Africa’s most exclusive sustainable lodges. Luckily there are cheaper options available as well!

Bisate Lodge in Rwanda has one of the most incredible designs I’ve ever seen!

3. Sustainable relationships are way more fun!

By building sustainable relationships with the people you get to know on your journey, you can have a tremendous positive impact on them. And on yourself! Whether you meet the local team on a project where you volunteer, or as a traveler making friends in the local pub, treat everyone with equality and respect. You will then see that others are also much more open to you. Sometimes this leads to the most amazing conversations.

Embrace cultural differences instead of avoiding or even looking down on them. Everyone can learn from each other. By being open-minded and learning more about other cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles, you can also learn a lot about yourself. Remember that as a Westerner you don’t necessarily know everything better than people in Africa. Learn to really listen, help where someone wants you to help and otherwise accept that you don’t have to “improve” everything. Because sometimes things just work differently in other places in the world. And instead of resisting it, you can learn to understand it. This way you get the most out of your time in Africa for yourself, and you make friends for life!

Do you still think sustainability is boring? Or will you, in your own way, show how it can be exciting and inspiring? Let us know in the comments!