I absolutely LOVE attending Carnival events abroad. Most of my carnival jumps in 2023 were in the Caribbean. While I toured the island countries and interacted with the locals, I was unsettled by some observations. I decided to research some topics and found myself learning about ethical tourism.
Masqueraders worldwide come to the island countries to enjoy the festivities. Still, there needs to be more discussion about how our presence alone can impact the local people, economy, and the environment. This blog introduces you to ethical tourism and how you can do your part to minimize the negative impact of your future carnival jump abroad.
What is ethical tourism?
Ethical tourism consists of principles applied in consideration of the locals, the economy, and the environment. While there is no way to be perfectly ethical, there are some things that we can all do that will leave a positive impact. Below are some principles you can apply to your next Caribbean carnival trip abroad.
Recycle, repurpose, reuse.
The aftermath of every Caribbean carnival includes the streets of the country littered with trash AND pieces of carnival costumes. Trim, feathers, and beads fall off costumes, and some people resign to leave their backpacks in the middle of the streets. Every year, thousands of pounds of waste are cleaned from the streets of Port of Spain.
We can do our part by throwing our trash away in the appropriate receptacles and recycling our costumes. You can take your costume home with you to enjoy for a future event. To learn about how to travel with your carnival costume, click here.
Alternatively, you can surrender your carnival costume to Carnicycle, who will sanitize and sort the components of your costume to be repurposed or recycled. To learn about Carnicycle and its mission, click here.
I personally take my costumes home to use for future content. Ultimately, the components of the costumes are broken down, and I donate feathers to local schools for projects. Last year, I donated approximately 30 pounds of costumes and backpacks to support a pageant led by a school’s STEM program.
Supporting local businesses
Many local businesses need (but don’t have) the marketing power to make tourists aware of their services, especially during Carnival festivities. Some businesses travel to each island country offering services we use, pulling business opportunities to those organic to that island. For example, many local makeup artists, barbers, and stylists can complete your carnival look. Some island countries even have organic costume delivery services.
Don't feed the animals
From stray cats to roosters, I have made several animal friends in the island countries this year and have been guilty of this principle. I am no veterinarian, and I have no idea what foods are good and unhealthy for them. Feeding the local animals can cause severe illnesses and increase the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans.
Attend events hosted by the locals
If you are a carnival chaser like myself, you will notice that some of your favorite promoters travel to different island countries to host events. And the price doesn’t always live up to the hype. Popular fetes circulate the same DJs playing the same set they did at one fete at another. Attending events hosted by the locals will provide a more authentic experience for your carnival trip abroad, increasing your likeliness of hearing music local to its island country. One of my memorable moments in Trinidad was partying with the locals in 2020.
There's no such thing as perfectly ethical.
As stated, there is no perfect way to attend carnival 100% ethically. I hope this quick blog provides a fresh perspective on how you can revel and positively impact any island country you choose to visit.