Want to make your travel experience a little more eco-friendly? Thankfully, it’s not nearly as difficult to do as it once was. Thanks to hotels taking a renewed approach to sustainability, airlines getting in on carbon footprint reduction or even elimination and more tour providers than ever offering eco-friendly options. You have plenty of ways to enjoy travel while not being as worried about killing the planet. With growing interest in sustainable travel, there is lots of advice available – but how do travelers know exactly what actions will have the biggest impact?
Go Green And Plant More Trees
There are a lot of ways to travel green and sustainability but to be more specific. We are going to list down and talk about the ways in which experts believe:
A recent analysis revealed that ocean-friendly sun care and similar products to leaving plastic packaging at home are the top two ways to reduce both your carbon footprint and waste impact most efficiently when traveling.
Ocean-friendly sun care earned the top spot due to its high impact on both carbon emissions and waste. By switching to ocean-friendly sun care, you both protect the oceans from being further polluted by Oxybenzone (a common toxic ingredient in sunscreen) and also use less plastic, as most ocean-friendly sunscreens come in zero-waste packaging. Choosing this over plastic bottles of sun care can save up to 132 g of Co2 per person a week, earning this tip a strong 15/20 votes.
Reducing the usage of single-use plastics tied for first place. With the average water bottle taking 450 years to decompose and the huge carbon impact of processing and transporting plastic, making a conscious effort to avoid single-use plastic will make your travel more environmentally-friendly.
Estimates show that one 500ml plastic bottle of water has a total carbon footprint equal to 82.8 grams (about 3 ounces) of carbon dioxide. Switching plastic single-use bottles to a reusable one will save 0.01449 tons of CO2 per year (per person), lowering the contribution to plastic waste by 175%.
Other high scoring tips were:
- Adhering to single-use plastic bans – countries such as Tanzania now advise visitors to avoid bringing plastic bags in their luggage.
- Reducing your meat consumption or trying veganism – a meat lover’s carbon footprint is over double that of a vegan’s.
- Buying into sustainable swimwear – brands that use recycled materials to create swimsuits lower the overall carbon impact and plastic waste associated with swimwear manufacturing.
- Reducing luggage down to a 15kg overall weight – this could save up to 4 gallons of fuel per trip.
- Eating locally – This can significantly reduce ‘food miles’ compared to centrally produced food from chain restaurants.
- Opting out of housekeeping – This could save considerable amounts of water waste.
For those seeking simple ways to take their green travel a little further, try keeping these ideas in mind on your next trip.
Look For Eco-Friendly Vendors
As mentioned, more and more travel providers are jumping aboard the eco-friendly train. Look for these vendors specifically when you’re booking a trip. They won’t be difficult to find, as many brands know that this is an attractive facet for many travelers, and so they’ll be promoting this aspect of their brand proudly.
Even if you can’t find a totally green hotel to stay at in your destination, look for those that at least have made active choices to reduce their carbon footprint, such as removing single-use plastics from guestrooms, installing motion-sensitive lights and replacing single-use toiletries in bathrooms with bulk bottles.
Consider Your Method Of Travel
Flight-shaming has become a thing in the travel world recently. While sometimes flying is absolutely necessary to get you where you need to go, sometimes it just isn’t. If you can get where you’re going by car or train, rather than plane, consider it.
Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll also often enjoy a more affordable cost and you won’t have to deal with pesky security lines, wait times in terminals or the possibility that your flight could be delayed or canceled. All you have to do is board the train or hop in your car and go.
If you have to fly, try to book non-stop flights. Take-off and landing use the most energy and result in the most environmental harm.
Look At Your Suitcase
Sometimes just packing a few extra items can result in energy savings and sustainability over time. Throw a refillable water bottle into your carry-on bag, so you’re not tempted to buy endless bottles of water at the airport or consume the same while you’re on the plane. Many airports have installed free filling stations just for this purpose, so you can refill your bottle as much as you need to.
While you’re at it, pack a few extra outfits. If you use the hotel’s laundry services, they’re likely going to wash everything in small loads, as they don’t want to mix your laundry with another guest. However, this is a giant waste.
If you’re worried about needing to get something cleaned while you’re traveling, just pack an extra pair of pants or an extra shirt rather than ask the hotel staff to wash your items for you.
On the flip side, though, don’t overpack, just because you’re not sure if you’ll need three extra pairs of shoes. Make decisions, be sensible and pack just what you actually need.
Getting Around Your Destination
One amenity that many hotels now offer is free bicycle rentals. Even if this isn’t an amenity that your hotel offers, you can often find affordable bike rentals or even scooter rentals in many major cities, conveniently located near major tourist hubs. So, before you book that Uber to take you 10 blocks down the street, consider cycling around the city instead.
Not only is it more sustainable, but it’s often more affordable and healthier. Plus, you enjoy the luxury of seeing more of the city around you as you go. You’ll be able to stop and check out the sights and sounds at your leisure.
Green travel isn’t only about what resources you use or don’t use. It’s also about how you travel to a destination that impacts the locals and their economic status. Travel should boost the local economy and provide more resources to those who live in the destination.
Instead of shopping at chains or buying cheap souvenirs that were imported from abroad, seek out local shops and restaurants, and purchase items that were made right there in the region. You get a great, unique souvenir, and you’re helping a local family keep food on the table at the same time. While you’re at it, skip the plastic shopping bag.
Lose All The Paper
Why is there so much paper associated with travel? Go digital and keep all of your important documents on your phone. Similarly, forget that old travel advice that you need printed copies of all your documents, like your driver’s license or passport. Just take a photo of it and have it on your phone and email.
Any effort to reduce a traveler’s carbon footprint and wastage is a positive action, our findings scored choosing smaller hotels and conserving unnecessary energy the lowest. Due to the sheer amount of power that is required to still run a hotel, choosing smaller hotels will have less impact. (Although by choosing smaller hotels, guests can save up to 1.3 times the amount of carbon compared to a large hotel!) Conserving unnecessary energy can still be helpful, but technological advances have already greatly reduced the amount of power used by standby-mode electronics.
With the tourism industry predicted to grow by 4% every year, and, on average 24% of an individual’s footprint in greenhouse gas emissions coming from our love of travel. The direct impact we are having on our environment has caused the travel industry to try to find a balance between traveling and respecting the planet at the same time.
Thoughtful travel can provide many benefits to both the traveler and the communities they visit. Making sustainable and manageable choices will allow us all to continue exploring the world while helping to preserve it
Going green when you travel isn’t difficult, but not all of the above suggestions will work for all travelers. The important thing, versus just following a laundry list of advice, is to make an effort and be conscious about your carbon footprint while you’re out exploring the beautiful planet.