The Morocco of North Africa offers an abundance of sights, sounds and experiences. In order to make your trip more sustainable, care must be taken to respect the environment, preserve cultural identities and be considerate of the local community. Read on to find out how to incorporate sustainable practices into your Moroccan adventure.
Buy locally produced goods
Although there are a few commercial centers in Morocco (usually located in major centers such as Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech), they often involve an element of foreign ownership and investment. Buying from smaller shops and market stalls means that most of your money will go into the pockets of local people, and this will ensure that the skills and craftsmanship lasts. With the vast souks of Marrakech, Fez and other cities, you can stroll through the very atmospheric souks. Additionally, the markets are the best place to buy fresh produce, spices, and other Moroccan treats. Shop like a local and support local farmers at the same time.
Visit local workshops
Watch skilled artisans hard at work in their workshops and studios to better appreciate the traditional techniques, tools, and materials that go into producing a wide variety of items. It is possible to buy goods from many workshops, eliminating middleman costs and ensuring that the product goes directly to the craftsman. It is an ethical way to buy property in Morocco.
Stay in small-scale accommodations owned by locals
There are a large number of quaint guesthouses in Morocco, many of which are in traditional buildings that have been renovated. Known as riads and dars, these accommodations allow visitors to get a glimpse of traditional local life and step back to a time when wealthy merchants and members of high society relaxed in lavish mansions. While some properties have been purchased by foreigners, visitors can still find those run by Moroccans. Many local guesthouses are run by extended families. Staying in such accommodation helps support the local economy and keep family businesses running. If you opt for a foreign-owned establishment, make sure that local staff are employed on site before booking your stay.
Dine at local restaurants
Many local restaurants are operated by Moroccan families. As well as boosting the local economy, dining at such an establishment means you can often sample traditional Moroccan dishes made from recipes passed down from generation to generation. The food is often more authentic and tastier than the big chain restaurants. Additionally, tasting local cuisine usually means that the ingredients are local, reducing the nation’s need to import produce.
Hire the services of local guides
Rather than joining a large tour group organized from outside the country, a more sustainable alternative is to book tours run entirely by Moroccans. Not only are the guides and drivers Moroccan, but the behind-the-scenes work, such as administration and logistics, is also done by Moroccan citizens. Beware of scams involving guides, however, and be sure to verify an individual’s credentials before accepting tours.
Support local charities
There are quite a number of people in Morocco asking for money on the street. Before trying to help on an individual basis, however, you may want to consider donating to one of the many excellent charities operating in Morocco. The objective of these associations is to identify the most responsible means of distributing funds. Look for locally run charities or book your trip with an organization that supports local charities. Charities exist to help different kind of people and animals.
Minimise waste and dispose of waste correctly
Carrying a refillable water bottle is a relatively small step that can have a big impact on the environment. Moroccan landfill sites often aren’t equipped to deal with huge amounts of waste, and plastic bottles can be especially problematic for the environment. Refilling a bottle can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste when travelling in Morocco. Keep in mind that tap water is generally considered safe to drink in almost all parts of the country.
- Reducing the amount of plastic waste in general is kinder for the environment
- Use reusable shopping bags over plastic bags
- Limit the use of drinking straws
- Buy products that create less waste
Be careful with water use
Being ‘water wise’ is important wherever you visit. However, in a desert-nation like Morocco, water is an especially valuable resource. Ways to save water include taking shorter showers, turning off taps when your brushing teeth, only washing clothes when necessary, and not taking more drinking water than will be consumed.