Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines sustainability as "being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged."
But sustainability is not limited to just the environment. Cultures, art and education are also resources that our society depends on, and that need protection from being "permanently damaged."
In travel, sustainability has turned into a bit of a buzzword. But because travel can have a significant impact on the environment, and in some cases disrupt local communities, it's a conversation worth having. It's our responsibility as travelers to be more mindful about the impact we have.
Some destinations have already stepped up to not only becoming more sustainable, but also providing travelers with solid recommendations on how to explore their destination with low impact.
In many cases, these tend to be more enriching experiences because whether it be dining, visiting a museum or staying at a hotel, sustainable initiatives always promote what’s local.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is one of the destinations leading the charge on sustainable tourism.
1. Canada Science and Technology Museum
Canada Science and Technology Museum has been impressively renovated — Photo courtesy of Canada Science and Technology Museum
Founded in 1967, the Canada Science and Technology Museum has led visitors on an immersive journey through the technological and scientific advances that have transformed Canada.
With permanent and traveling exhibitions that cover early exploration to present day (and beyond), the museum allows curious guests, both young and old, to explore everything from sustainable agriculture to Canadian Aviation and space exploration.
After being closed for 3 years and spending $80 million in renovations, the museum has transformed, becoming just as much of a technological advancement as the artifacts it holds. The newly renovated space is also a prime example of eco-friendly construction and sustainable facilities.
2. Major’s Hill Park
Major's Hill Park — Photo courtesy of National Capital Commission
A peaceful retreat from ByWard Market, this park leads visitors along the Ottawa Locks with beautiful views of the Rideau Canal, where you can also see the Parliament buildings. Major’s Hill Park is Canada’s first park, established in 1826 and was where the capital marked its first Canada Day.
Since then, the park has provided locals and visitors with 5.06 hectares of pathways winding through nature.
3. Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Founded over 20 years ago by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a place for locals and visitors to enjoy wildlife and gardening. The park has easy hiking trails, a "Backyard Garden" where they hold demonstrations on how to create a wildlife friendly habitat, and gardens dedicated to plants native to the Ottawa area.
There are trails to explore, or benches where guests can relax while viewing birds, butterflies and other local animals in their natural habitat.
4. Indigenous Walks
Indigenous Walks is a must-do when visiting Ottawa — Photo courtesy of Indigenous Walks
Sustainability doesn’t stop at being eco-conscious; it also means being socially conscious and working to preserve local culture. Explore Ottawa’s landscape, history, art and architecture from the perspective of the Anishinabe Peoples, the indigenous tribe from the Ottawa area.
Connect with the stories and the culture of Ottawa that stretches far beyond the time early explorers set foot on Canadian soil. Tours include stops at Parliament, Confederation Park, and ByWard Market.
5. VeloGo Bike Share
VeloGO Bike Share is offered in Ottawa and in Gatineau — Photo courtesy of VeloGO Bike Share
Cut back on fossil fuels by using a human-powered mode of transportation. VeloGo Bike Share is Ottawa’s bike share program that makes renting and riding bikes in Ottawa easy, fun and inexpensive.
The program is also available in Gatineau, the Quebec city just across the Gatineau River. During the summer months, Gatineau and Ottawa host Nokia Sunday Bikedays where over 50 kilometers of roads combined in each city are closed for runners and bicyclists.
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6. Au feel de l’eau - Aqua-Taxi
Aqua-Taxi plans to expand in 2018 — Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism
Navigate around Ottawa by water on the Aqua-Taxi, an electric water taxi that runs between Ottawa Locks and the Canadian Museum of History.
Starting in May of 2018, the Aqua-taxi will be making stops at the Richmond Landing, Canadian War Museum, and the Mill Street Brew Pub. It’s an excellent way to get to your next destination, or to just enjoy the view of the city from the water.
Recently listed as one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants, Fauna is a rustic farm-to-table restaurant located in Centretown on Bank Street. This restaurant serves local fare in the "New Canadian" style of cuisine, with ingredients sourced from local farms and vendors.
Having local ingredients prepared in an inventive twist on traditional Canadian fare celebrates local culture and gives visitors the chance to experience much of what sustains the community in a single meal.
8. Two Six Ate
Much like Fauna, Two Six Ate’s concept is making food that’s local, fresh, and uses sustainable products in what they call "seasonal nose-to-tail" cooking. Located in Little Italy, this restaurant celebrates what the Italian community has brought to Ottawa through contemporary dishes that are inspired by classic Italian-Canadian eats.
9. Westin Ottawa
Westin Ottawa is an eco-friendly choice — Photo courtesy of Westin Ottawa
Located across the street from Parliament and overlooking the Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa’s "5 Green Keys" hotels.
"Green Key Global" is a prestigious eco-rating program that distinguishes hotels and resorts whose green initiatives meet an international standard. At the Westin Ottawa, guests are empowered to make mindful choices, so that their stay can make a meaningful impact.
Along with organic waste management programs, installing LED lights and partnering with Bullfrog Power to use 100% emissions-free electricity for the elevators and lobby, guests are given a "Green Choice" during their stay where they can select to have a tree planted by Forestry Ontario or receive 500 Starpoints for each night they decline housekeeping services.
10. Marriott Ottawa
Ottawa Marriott Hotel makes being green easy — Photo courtesy of Ottawa Marriott Hotel
Another Ottawa hotel committed to Green Key Global is the Marriott Ottawa, with a location in the center of the city that makes access to many of the city's most popular restaurants and attractions very easy.
This hotel reduces its eco-footprint by making recycling available to guests and offering a responsible and eco-conscious leftover food disposal program, as well as an option empowering guests to control how much energy and water they use.