This originated with me sending regular emails to my close friends and family on environmental issues and changes which could ‘green’ their lifestyle. The group has unintentionally grown quickly as friends of friends ask to join. The EcoEmails don’t always give people an easy solution to a problem but try to make them aware that every decision they make has environmental and sustainability consequences. If you would like to join pls email me at

Souvenirs January 16, 2009

When on holiday don’t buy products made from endangered plants or wild animals: including
hardwoods, corals, shells, starfish, ivory, fur, skins, teeth, reptiles and turtles.

Below is a list of top destinations and what to avoid buying

* Greece: Tortoiseshell, ivory, coats made from spotted cat furs and other wildlife trinkets
* Turkey: Stuffed native birds, corals, sponges and shells
* Spain: On Spanish beaches, there are often opportunities to have photos taken with baby chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are an endangered species and paying to have your picture taken with them means that you are supporting their illegal capture for this trade
* USA: Native wild birds are protected in the US and even possessing a feather is illegal. Walruses and other marine mammals, as well as products derived from American black bears and polar bears have import and export restrictions. Reptile skin products may also need a permit
* Kenya: Shells, corals and orchids have import and export restrictions. These are to be avoided, as are products made from lizards, tortoises, birds of prey, ivory and crocodile skin. Carvings made from native timber make excellent souvenirs as they support the local economy. Just ensure that they are not carved from overexploited timbers. ‘Good woods’ to buy include neem, jacaranda, mango and grevillea
* Mexico: Cacti and native birds such as parrots are illegal to import into the UK, unless you have the correct permit. Also ensure that any leather products you purchase are not made from endangered species
* Thailand: Some species of orchids growing in tropical rainforests are so rare, they are protected by international law. Orchids taken from the wild are likely to require permits
* Australia: Most of Australia’s wildlife is protected and violators of the law can expect heavy penalties. Avoid purchasing live native animals, insects and marine shells
* Hong Kong: Ivory is widely available but is illegal to import into the UK. Some Chinese medicines are manufactured from endangered species, such as turtle, bear, rhino and tiger, and their purchase should also be avoided
* The Carribean: The rich marine environment here is tempting to many souvenir hunters. Tortoiseshell jewellery, turtle oil, black coral jewellery and other products made from marine species are for sale, but due to their protected status you risk paying heavy fines if you try to import them into the UK


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