Souvenirs and Where They Come From
Before picking out a little souvenir to take home, consider how it was made and where it came from. Some traditional tourist locations sell trinkets made from coral, bone, shell, reptile skin, teeth, and even large animals' fur. If an animal product or natural resource was used to make the item, then it's better left on the shelf. The knickknack of interest may not even be from that area. Oftimes, shells sold at beaches in the United States are imported from places with less strict environmental laws.
Don't pick your own souvenirs from the sea or land either. Sand dollars and conchs may be beautiful when they are at home on the beach, but packed up in luggage they may stink. It's likely they'll end up being thrown away far from their home, so it's best that they're left at the beach. Exotic animals sold to tourists have usually been taken from the wild. Tourists are often not privy to the truth that taking animals from the wild frequently costs many of them their lives. Another concern is the law. Shells and animals can be legally protected, and being in possession of one may cause problems with the authorities.
Pass as well when it comes to the animal photo op because many animals used for photo opportunities were captured in the wild and may not be well treated when the cameras are gone. While it's tempting to support the local economies, forgo the photos. Choose other gifts to take home, such as crafts made by local artisans.