We all love to travel. But traveling also has an impact on the environment. More and more people are being conscious of the carbon footprint and the consequences that travel can have, from air and land pollution to the impact on local communities. People are increasingly deciding to take up practices that contribute to sustainability and are consciously making sustainable travel choices.
Green travel encompasses eco-friendly travel practices that are beneficial to the environment as well as the social and economic wellbeing of local communities. And while it may seem to you that, as an individual, you can’t do much, it is every small action that counts as brought together they have a big cumulative impact.
It is all about making small choices that matter, so here are some of the things to take into consideration for responsible and eco-friendly travel:
By now we all know that planes are making quite a bit of environmental impact with their carbon emissions. So, whenever possible, you should be taking a train, ship or even bus. Should you still need to take a plane because of the far distance or lack of time, try to book direct flights as the most carbon emissions are created during the takeoff and landing. When choosing a company, try to choose one which offers a carbon offset program and invests in carbon reduction projects to neutralise the aircrafts emissions. But planes of course aren’t the only polluters. When traveling by car, try to choose one which is eco-friendly, such as a hybrid or electric car.
2. Hotel stay
One of the first and easiest things to do when booking an accommodation is to see whether the place you’re staying in is certified as green. There are a lot of green programs in different countries such as LEED Certification in the US from the US Green Building Council, or the Green Tourism Business Scheme in the UK that judges hotels based on energy efficiency, water savings, sustainable site development and other green factors. To make an extra effort, you can also ask if the hotel has their own recycling program and sustainability initiatives such as energy-efficient lighting or low-flow toilets.
One of the things that is also important to keep in mind is whether the hotel hires local staff and where it sources the food from. Maybe they even grow it on their own property? Companies using local resources and organic, local food are usually more sustainable, investing in the local economy.
3. A few extra tips
When traveling, as in life in general, you actually have a lot of power over the water or electricity saving practices and a number of other small things which in the end have quite a bit of impact on the environment.
One of the first things to do is to take a refillable water bottle. Many international airports as well as other transport hubs have water dispensers – this will both reduce the plastic bottles waste and even save you some money. Use the water efficiently by taking showers and not baths during your stay, and don’t leave the water running. Basically, act like if you were at your own place. There you probably wouldn’t leave the lights on when not necessary or wash towels every single day.
Besides already mentioned hybrid and electric cars, try walking and using bikes as much as possible. It is the most eco-friendly solution, a great way for sightseeing and it is healthy as well. When sightseeing or hiking, be sure that you respect all the local customs and that you are respectful to nature and wildlife as well.
By using all of these tips, you will make your trip more sustainable and eco-friendly, support more local communities and even enjoy your trip more.