“Leave the world better than you found it. If you can’t, don’t contribute to making it worse.” – Mel Vargas and Abby Singzon from Curious Couple Travels.
This Filippino couple educates their audience on environmental awareness while they go forward as a good example. Mel and Abby pick up trash while they explore new places. This way, they do their best to leave their destination a better place. They also challenge you to pick up 3 pieces of trash a day!
I thought I was the only one picking up trash, now I want to get to know these guys better!
Meet Mel Vargas and Abby Singzon
Mel Vargas and Abby Singzon are two Filipinos with a special passion for travel and the environment. Together, they created the couples travel blog Curious Couple Travels to help other travelers, especially Filipinos, discover places to go while sharing the travel tips and tricks they learn along the way.
Both Mel and Abby have been traveling before they met, but admit that their travels have only become more fun and exciting as they get to share new experiences with each other, though sometimes challenging. Together, they make it a point to learn the local language of their destination so they can appreciate the culture even more. They find it supportive to be two so that they can help each other practice.
Mel and Abby like to encourage other travelers to go beyond getting a good photo and earning likes on social media. They urge you to be curious as they site the old saying, “blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”
Now, let’s hear what this conscious couple has to say about responsible travel!
What does travel mean to you?
Travel for us has always been about feeding our curiosity. We want to see places that we’ve never been to before. Experience new things that are foreign to us yet relate to the things that are the same. Taste different flavors and sample the local delicacies regardless of how different, or even weird, those could be.
We also want to learn about the history of the place we visit and know the things they’ve been through so we could better understand where they are now. Most importantly, traveling for us is the opportunity to connect with other people on a more personal level.
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
Responsible travel can have different meanings depending on the person you ask. For us, responsible travel can be summarized as, “Leave the world better than you found it. If you can’t, don’t contribute to making it worse.”
We tend to focus on the environment and making sure we help with the garbage problem. This could be anything from avoiding single-use plastic to helping collect garbage in certain areas.
When did you first start to be conscious about the way you travel and the effects your travels have on your destination?
We’ve always been conscious about keeping the environment clean. We’re from the Philippines and garbage is a big problem here. A lot of Filipinos don’t care about the amount of trash their generating and it’s not uncommon for people to throw trash on the street.
While we’re personally aware of the issue, we haven’t really contributed to the solution for long. This all changed when we discovered diving. That opened our eyes to the beauty of underwater life. Seeing garbage destroy that beauty made us come to the conclusion: “Enough is enough.”
We needed to be more actively contributing to the solution which we do through educating people whenever we can, either through our social circle or through the content we share at Curious Couple Travels.
Have you traveled to a specific destination that you found especially sustainable that you would like to recommend to other travelers?
We absolute admire countries like Singapore and Japan whose government has implemented effective steps in making sure that they don’t add to the world’s growing garbage problem.
Singapore, for example, has a place called Pulao Semakau which is also known as Trash Island. While the place is a landfill, it is unlike any landfill in the world. They’ve handled the garbage so well that the island looks more like a resort than a landfill. It’s such a beautiful place, it’s become one of the tourist attractions in Singapore.
Not only is Trash Island beautiful, but it’s also an ecological treasure. The garbage they dump is processed and used to enrich the soil which helps the rich plant life in the area. This also attracts a lot of birds and have been known to be a great place for bird watching as rare birds often go to the area. It’s simply amazing.
What do you do to travel responsibly?
One thing we do is to avoid generating garbage when we can. We’re not saying that you should never generate trash when traveling, sometimes that’s unavoidable, but at the very least you should be mindful. Being mindful is a good place to start. Say no to extra plastic bags that they offer you when you buy something. We have a few reusable bags that fold into small squares that we bring whenever we’re traveling.
Another thing we do is to pick up trash. Yes, we do pick up trash. We don’t pick up all trash, but we do our best to pick up garbage when we can. Our challenge to our family and friends is to just pick up 3 pieces of garbage every day. Once you’ve picked up 3 pieces, you’re done. Imagine the amount of help that would do if everybody did it.
What are your top 3 advice to travelers that want to travel more responsibly?
Be mindful when you’re traveling. Know that there is a problem and that you can do something to help solve that problem. Whatever problem that may be: environment, animal cruelty, etc. Be aware and look at your opportunities to make a difference.
Learn more about responsible travel. Read articles and watch videos about responsible travel. There’s a lot of information available that you can apply whenever you’re traveling. Other people may already have thought of a solution to the problem you’re facing.
Connect with other responsible travelers. Join groups and follow pages that focus on responsible travel like Brainy Backpackers. It’s always best to do this with other like-minded people.
See more from Mel Vargas and Abby Singzon
I am grateful that Mel and Abby took their time to do this interview and share their enthusiasm for the environment with us. Hopefully, you got at least one take-away from their advice. I sure did!
Is there anything you wish I had asked Mel and Abby about? Make sure you leave a comment.
Pin it for later!