Earth day landed on Thursday the 22nd April this year and brought with it new pledges from the Climate Summit from world leaders to reduce carbon emissions. Travel can be bad for the environment too, with gas-guzzling cars and trucks pumping emissions into the environment to the huge impact aviation has on CO2 output. So, if you are looking to be eco-friendlier in your life, yet are still desperate to travel, here are some ways you can be more eco-conscious and still quell that wanderlust.
Pick a green destination
If you don’t mind where you go, or simply would like to travel anywhere and everywhere, why not support a destination that is working to combat climate change? An article from Condé Nast Traveler in 2019 referenced ‘Slovenia, Portugal, Lake Tahoe, and Sani Isla, Ecuador, all of whom were singled out at the 2018 Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards for their focus on going green.’ The Good Travel Guide lists green destinations across the world including destinations in Finland, Croatia and Italy in Europe, Cambodia, Japan, and Indonesia in Asia; Seychelles, Rwanda and Tanzania in Africa; Brazil, Chile and the Caribbean in Latin America and destinations in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
When you are in your chosen destination support local businesses, eat local, try the local farm foods or beer, products and crafts. This will cut down on the emissions from the transportation of goods and also support the local communities that you are visiting. You can also minimize your carbon emission by picking a destination closer to home or one that you can reach by transport other than plane.
Offset your carbon emission
Some carbon outputs are unavoidable if you want to travel, but there may be ways in which you can attempt to offset the emissions you are using. You may be able donate to organizations such as carbonfind.org. Some flights may have a carbon offset option when booking your flight. There are also eco-tourism options, with travel companies offering holidays which support sustainable development, avoid impacting negatively on the environment and support local communities.
Travelling with an environmentally responsible tour-operator may also be a good option as small groups of travelers sometimes have less of an environmental impact – as they share transportation and so forth.
Go for green options again and again
Similar to picking a green destination you can also try to opt for hotels, restaurants, transport that are environmentally friendly or support those areas. Such as hotels which are energy efficient, recycle, use environmentally friendly energy sources and so forth. While you are there, support the local waste systems by recycling, disposing of waste properly, limiting energy usage etcetera. Can you get to your destination by using the train rather than flying – when you are there can you rent a bike rather than taking a cab?
There are several apps or travel companies which can help you make greener choices when you are travelling, some even highlighting the best restaurants, bars and cafes which are eco-friendly or pointing you to conservation projects, eco-lodges and tours.
Make Small eco – friendly adjustments
Rather than utilizing the free amenities in hotel rooms which are normally not bio-degradable or thrown out after your one use, pack your own. You can also opt to use e-tickets where possible rather than printing off your own and using paper. You may also be able to use the lights/heating/aircon less in your hotel – especially turning them off when you leave (you may not be paying the bills but the environment is affected by the energy consumption).
Can you stop buying tacky souvenirs and gifts that will just end up in the bin, instead look for something that you will keep or use for a long time – or simply leave with the memories. When you are there – are you able to walk around rather than use a cab – or can you opt for an eco-friendlier option like a bus? Some destinations such as Rome are perfect for strolling around and exploring the back streets with no need for vehicular transport.
You can also cut down on plastic waste or general waste by bringing re-usable items such as bags, utensils, bottles and straws with you. Often you may find this more convenient anyway with items such as water bottles and straws as you can ensure they are up to your hygiene standards. When you are packing, look to dispose of any packaging at home for goods, as the re-cycling program at your destination may not be as efficient. Also – try to pack lightly, those weight restrictions on your baggage don’t just keep you from paying more – the more a plane weighs the more carbon emissions it produces.