By Chloe Mulliner, on August 28, 2014

Eco-travel in the Maldives

Eco-friendly trips are a growing trend among travelers, and Alison Teal is an adventurer who lives, breathes, and travels with environmental consciousness. She is so passionate about traveling sustainably that she has created her own film and blog series, titled, “Alison’s Adventures.”

The project allows Alison to travel the world and inspire communities to protect the planet with her mission of “Surf, Survive, Sustain.” This week she’s embarking on an eco-trip to the Maldives as part of her pursuit to help bring awareness to the nation’s environmental issues, and we’ll be sharing stories and photos from her trip when she returns next month.

In the meantime, with the hopes of encouraging you to embark on your own green travels, we caught up with Alison to learn more about her adventures to the Maldives.

Alison’s adventures

Throughout Alison’s childhood, her photographer father and yogi mother strapped young Alison on their backs and ventured to remote and eccentric destinations. Alison explored the world like a Tarzan child and grew up in a sustainable grass hut that would have made Robinson Crusoe proud.

Photo by Sarah Lee

Naked and Afraid

Alison’s knowledge of living off the land and her experiences in extreme corners of the earth made her an excellent candidate for Discovery Channel’s recent series, Naked and Afraid. In 2013, Alison was filmed while surviving castaway-style on a deserted island in the Maldives. She was marooned in an uninhabited area, dubbed “The Island from Hell,” which was covered in water bottles and Styrofoam. She told us, “We used it to help us survive on the show, but I couldn’t walk anywhere without stepping on trash, and more washed up every day.”

Save the Maldives

Haunted by the pollution and spurred by a passion to address the devastating trash problem, Alison decided to face the island again, this time on her own terms. She is back in the Maldives, and a big part of her trip is focused on encouraging environmental awareness. Along for the adventure are her partners in crime, photographer Sarah Lee and cinematographer Mark Tipple, to help document her mission.

One stop on their journey will be to visit “Trash Island,” a landfill where hundreds of tons of waste are dumped each day. Towering piles of plastic, garbage, electronic devices, and paper cover this area. Some of the trash is burned. The rest is left to rot. Alison and her crew will receive exclusive access to this wasteland to showcase its troubling environmental effects.

Viewfinder Tip: When faced with the option of buying recycled products, look for items that transform plastic waste into functional items.

Meeting with government officials is another item on the itinerary as Alison hopes to educate the community on ways to transform plastic waste into functional products. “I want to provide massive awareness about the trash on the islands, and show how it can be made into other things,” she said. “Companies such as Repreve recycle plastic waste and incorporate it into the products of popular brands such as Patagonia, North Face, Volcom, Ford, and Teeki.”

Alison already is involved in this movement back in the United States, where she promotes Odina, an eco-friendly swimsuit company.

Alison’s Maldives adventure won’t exactly be all work and no play. She explained, “I want to explore this picturesque place, as well as feature what’s happening to it.”

With this in mind, she plans to visit Baa Atoll. This biosphere is a place to spot some of the ocean’s gentle giants—manta rays and whale sharks roam in a protected slice of the preserve. As far as the “surf” aspect of her campaign, Alison plans to carve up Lohis Break off the island of Hudhuranfushi with her pink, “Green to the Core,” surfboard in tow.

With her eco-swimsuits, signature surfboard, and environmental mindset, Alison will take on the Maldives in a big, green way. And once she returns in September, we’ll sit down with her again to share her adventures and impart some environmentally-friendly travel wisdom.

What are some of your favorite eco-travel destinations, and why?