Traveling inevitably creates a spike in your carbon footprint. Planes, cruise ships, plastic water bottles, hotel laundries all leave their mark on the environment. Yet more and more of us are growing aware of the need for green travel solutions, where we reduce our environmental impact and help to make a positive effect on the communities we visit. In fact, a Trip Advisor Survey reveals that travelers are growing greener, with 71 percent saying that they plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the future.
So how can you be sure you are making sound green decisions when planning a vacation? Whether you’re venturing on a road trip, getting ready for a camping expedition or an exotic city break, we’ve listed a few ideas to inspire you to go green.
Choose your destination carefully
If you’re looking to go abroad, choose a country that demonstrates a commitment to environmental policy. Ethical Traveler ranks destinations by their environmental protection standards, social welfare and human rights records – it’s worth checking their list. But you can also judge for yourself whether a country upholds green values. Is there a robust public transport system, ample parkland, bike lanes and volunteer opportunities? If you opt for a green destination, you can be sure your money will be going towards supporting their environmental efforts.
Limit transport by vehicle
If you need to travel by plane, book non-stop flights whenever you can as it’s the takeoffs and landings that create most carbon emissions. Also, try to pack light and avoid first class where your extra space will demand extra fuel. When you reach your destination, opt for public transport wherever possible, especially trains which are particularly environmentally friendly. This will be less stressful than driving in an unfamiliar place and will get your closer to the locals. However, if you choose to drive, try to go for a fuel-efficient vehicle. When you return from your travels, it’s a good idea to calculate your carbon offset and make a donation to a carbon offset program that funds projects in renewable energy.
Opt for green activities
Biking, sailing, scuba-diving and hiking are all activities that won’t leave your mark on the landscape. Ensure you equip yourself with the necessary gear that you can reuse on future travels. For example, for hiking, carry innovative trekking poles that can be used as tent poles to minimize luggage, and eco-friendly manufactured footwear. You can also lessen your impact as a tourist by joining a volunteer program which is designed to help the local community. Research the options available – you’ll often find programs involving humanitarian work, animal welfare and environmental projects available.
Don’t dump waste
Many countries do not have recycling facilities for plastics, electrical equipment and used batteries. Take your waste with you or, better still, minimize waste by taking rechargeable batteries, reuseable shopping bags, and reusable water bottles plus purifying tablets to reduce the need to buy bottled water.
Do your bit
Follow these tips and do your bit to contribute to a cleaner environment. Whilst turning off hotel lights, biking to your campsite and reusing a water bottle may seem like small gestures, collectively, if we all live by the same rules we can help create a greener planet.