We’ve all heard the terrifying news that we have twelve years to act on climate change before the effects are irreversible. Twelve measly years! That statistic fills many of us with fear and dread…. but it has also inspired proactivity, productivity and open, frank conversations about what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and negative impact on the planet. Increased awareness, simple switches and smarter choices can have a cumulative positive impact. You may have read my previous post with nine eco-friendly travel tips. In this post, I would like to share ten more!
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Prepare an eco-friendly travel kit
From recyclable toothbrushes to shampoo bars, there are many swaps you can do to ensure your toiletries and other everyday essentials are more environmentally-friendly. Make sure your day bags include things like reusable water bottles, canvas tote bags, produce bags, reusable cups, straws and cutlery. Bring some reusable face wipes and cotton wool sticks in your toiletries bag.
Choose your airline carefully
Research ‘green airlines’ which offset their omissions and/or compost their in-flight food and drink leftovers. For example, using one of the 30+ IATA (International Air Transport Association) member airlines who offer carbon offset programs and invest in carbon reduction projects.
Enquire about ethics and sustainability
In my experience, companies with genuine green policies are usually very open and transparent about it. Prior to booking, ask hotel & hostel staff if they use environmentally friendly energy sources, such as solar power, wind turbines and energy-efficient lighting. Ask how they dispose of their waste and if they have a recycling programme. If the latter is not in place, encourage them to start one.
Ask tour providers what measures they take to help and give back to the local community. Do they hire local guides? What role do they take in preserving the area’s natural resources?
Recycle tourist information
Give maps, brochures, and other tourist information back to your hostel & hotel reception staff once you’re finished with them. That way they can be reused by future guests. Similarly, return maps and other hand-outs to the front desk of art galleries and museums once you’re ready to leave.
Make yourself at home
In the sense that you should behave as you would in your own home! Many of us become a bit complacent when we’re staying in a hotel or an Airbnb apartment. We may not be paying the electricity bill… but we’ll all ultimately pay the price! Turn off the air-conditioning, lights, television and/or heating when you go out. Unplug your electronic devices once they are charged. If your accommodation has a dishwasher or washing machine, make sure it’s fully loaded before use. Hand dry clothes rather than using the tumble dryer, whenever possible. Have short showers to avoid wasting water.
Avoid animal exploitation
Don’t take any tour that promises hands-on encounters with wild animals, such as riding elephants. holding sea animals or posing next to lethargic, heavily-drugged tigers. Don’t give money to street performers who parade bears or monkeys with chains around their necks. If you do, you’re supporting an industry that illegally captures, transports, and abuses millions of animals each year. Read this harrowing report by National Geographic to understand the atrocities better.
Eat & drink in whenever possible
Instead of getting your coffee to go in a disposable cup, sit down and savour your drink in an actual cup. Rather than ordering a takeaway, eat in at the café or restaurant, or bring your own reusable container if you’d rather eat elsewhere.
If you are visiting a supermarket, shopping centre or street market, bring canvas tote bags and produce bags (for fruit and vegetables). Alternatively ensure your backpack or handbag has plenty of space for any new purchases. That way, you won’t need to ask for plastic bags.
Support local farmers and suppliers
By eating locally sourced food and drinking beverages that haven’t been imported, you can support the local economy and consume products which have a smaller CO2 footprint. Pay attention to the seasonality of your food and where it has been grown or produced.
Hire a hybrid
If you are going to rent a car during your holiday, ask for the smallest model available in order to save money and reduce fuel consumption. Consider renting a hybrid or electric vehicle, which uses less fuel and produces fewer carbon emissions.
I hope these tips have been useful! This list is by no means exhaustive; we can all learn from each other, so please share any other suggestions in the comments section.
Ciao for now!