Sustainable Storyteller Award winner Soraya Abdel-Hadi wants to help people make more mindful decisions about travel and explore the natural world, even if they can’t venture very far from home.
Through her Soraya.earth blog and Instagram, Soraya Abdel-Hadi is tackling a question that has been on the minds of all eco-conscious travelers: how do I combine a love of travel with a desire to protect the Earth? For her, honesty is the best place to start.
“If you choose to do any sort of travel, there will be a footprint,” says Soraya. To reduce its size, she encourages people to compromise and look at every part of their trip: how they travel, where they stay, even what destination they choose. But the most important aspects are the choices they make after they’ve arrived: do they choose local providers? Are they conscious about their social media posts?
“Take a very mindful approach to every decision you make, and that includes your storytelling: whose stories you tell and how you tell them,” she says. “Sustainable travel is not just about how you get there or if you take solid shampoo bars, it’s also about how you relate to people in the location you visit and what you choose to do when you are there.”
Soraya has just finished a no-flight year – a pledge which she admits was made easier to finish by 2020’s travel restrictions – but not being able to travel at all made her to get creative with her blog and Instagram. She promoted local walks and “micro-adventures” while encouraging people to stay curious and connect with the outdoors, wherever they are.
She was amazed about the number of trails in her area that she didn’t even know existed, leading her to think about how difficult access can be for people who don’t know where to go. One of her latest projects is helping people find those routes.
“My trips tend to focus on nature and conservation, both in the UK and abroad. There’s a whole sector of our community who don’t go outdoors. Why is that? How can we identify and help break down all the different barriers that are in the way, so we can have a more diverse outdoor community?”
“Sustainable travel is not just about how you get there or if you take solid shampoo bars, it’s also about how you relate to people in the location you visit and what you choose to do when you are there.”