We have a huge, beautiful planet that we absolutely encourage you to travel. Travel is undeniably great for the soul—for growth, personal development and happiness, it’s undeniably not so great for the environment. With environmental damages such a hot topic right now and summer approaching, we have some tips to encourage you to make sustainable choices while travelling. After all, we don’t need a handful of people doing eco-friendly perfectly, we need everyone making changes where they can. If you want to do your bit for climate change whilst also making the most of every opportunity you have to travel, here’s how to do so with sustainably in mind.
Make Like a Local and Take Bus, Bike or Walk
The benefits of taking public transport or making good use of those legs that were made for walking are twofold. First and foremost, it is the surest way to minimize your environmental impact by reducing your emissions footprint. Secondly, trading in a private car for a local bus or bike will allow you added opportunities to mix with locals and experience the culture in a slower and more intimate nature. It’s a win-win.
Say No to Plastic
If you only take on board one tip from this list make it this one. Given the fact that one plastic bottle/bag takes hundreds of years to decompose – filling up our landfills in the meantime – the simple act of packing a re-usable water bottle and shopping bag on your travels is pivotal to ensuring an eco-friendly travel experience. Unless you are visiting a third world country where the water isn’t safe to drink, you will have no problem finding a place to fill your bottle up. These days many developed cities feature plenty of public drinking fountains/taps (in some Italian cities you can even find sparkling water taps!). Moreover, if you happen to be out hiking in places like New Zealand and Iceland, your fortunes are even greater as it is here that you can find some of the purest drinking water on Earth in the streams and waterfalls that you pass.
Support The Real Local Economy
Locally made crafts and souvenirs are not always cheaper, but purchasing them ensures your contribution to the economy will have a more direct and positive impact.
Stay at Green Hotels
As the changing climate becomes an increasing concern worldwide, more and more hotels are adopting environmentally friendly initiatives to minimize their environmental impact. For example, a lot of hotels will ask you to hang towels back up if you are happy to reuse them for a few days or leave them in the bath if they are ready to be washed.
Take The Shortcut
Did you know that a plane expends the most fuel when taking off and landing? This means that every stop-over on your flight path is resulting in a multiplication of your carbon footprint. Therefore, for the most eco-friendly travel experience be sure to choose the most direct flight whenever possible. As a side note, newer plane models (such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner) are designed to consume up to 20 percent less fuel. Choosing to fly on one of these more fuel-efficient planes is another simple and quick way to reduce your environmental impact whilst traveling.
Pack Your Reusables and Save Money
Another reminder to bring your reusables! I wonder how many cups of coffee were bought at the airport this year(?)... because that is the amount of disposable coffee cups that have ended up in landfill. It is almost impossible to separate the paper from the plastic lining to recycle them. Bringing your reusables can get you up to 50p off your cup of coffee and also free water at the airport and help you avoid the after security prices. As you know, liquids (over 100ml) are not allowed through security so airports and airlines know you are a captive customer and therefore the cost of bottled water is high. Most airports have water fountains that are clearly signposted. They have them at all Heathrow terminals, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol and Southampton. We suggest taking an empty reusable bottle through security and refill as many times as you like. Also, refill at your hotel before excursions to keep you hydrated and avoid buying throw-away bottles (oh, and it will improve your Instagram content)
Take Care of Your Treasures AND Your Trash
In most developed countries, we promote recycling. However, this is not the case in developing countries where most items marked as trash are merely taken to live out the rest of their days as landfill. A particular concern in these developing countries is the disposal of bulky, man-made items (e.g. old electronics, used batteries and polyester clothing) of which many developing counties are unable to properly dispose of. To prevent this, wait until you return home (or to a country with more eco-conscious disposal practices) to throw out these unwanted item. The exception to this is when the items could be of use to the local people, in which case they should be donated to local charities so that they can become someone else’s treasure.