After a few amazing weeks or months travelling to the most stunning places you’ve ever seen, it’s understandable that you may want to bring home a souvenir as a reminder of where you’ve been. Souvenirs can be great depending on where and whom you purchase it from. You could be supporting a local vendor who may have made that item themselves, thereby ensuring your travel dollars are well spent and making a positive contribution. Or you could be supporting a mass produced, and perhaps even sweat-shopped labored industry.

How to tell the difference can be extremely difficult. Best thing to do is ask the vendor where or how it was made. If they do not know, it might be best to avoid.

But sometimes the vendor doesn’t know where or how certain souvenirs were made, but you really want to support them. What do you do? This may come down to what item you decide to purchase. There are certainly a number of no-no’s right off the bat, such as endangered animal products. There currently over 800 species of animals and plants that are banned from international trade according to CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species). But yet, many souvenirs and products made with some of these banned items slip through the crack.

What are some of these souvenirs and products? According to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), here are the top 10 souvenirs to avoid:

  • Ivory

  • Reptile skins

  • Tortoise shells

  • Seahorses

  • Corals

  • Seashells

  • Shark products

  • Big cat skins

  • Caviar

  • Live animals

  • Traditional medicines

  • Other wildlife items.

IFAW also suggests that "many tourists buying souvenirs made from wildlife have no idea that they’ve done something wrong, often because these items are sold openly in vacation resorts, airports, shops and markets – masking the bloody truth behind the wildlife trinket being sold". So do take that extra second to consider what the product is and where it may have come from the next time you want to buy a souvenir. Otherwise, you can always just go home leaving nothing but your footprints and taking back only amazing memories.