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- Richard Moss
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ECO-FRIENDLY TIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE, RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Sustainable travel or going green in general is a hot topic, and rightly so. Our planet is in decline, with over 25% of Earth’s coral reefs damaged beyond repair, 60% of animal populations wiped out since 1970 and an ever-increasing rate of habitat destruction resulting in only 23% of Earth’s total landmass regarded as wilderness.
Travel is considered a top contributor to many of Earth’s problems. Aviation is a regular polluter, actively effecting climate change. Whether you travel for business or leisure, if you are a frequent flyer and worried about your footprint, there is plenty you can do throughout your trip to make more positive steps for our planet.
Sustainable travel is made up of three important factors; environmental, economical and social. We will provide you with 16 tips that tick off all three. Whether you pick one or you pick ten, you can make a difference on your next trip.
Try to avoid the big chain’s where your money doesn’t enter the economy. Instead opt for small local eateries. Not only is this where you will find the most delicious and traditional local food, but your money will directly impact local families.
Similar to point one, consider buying produce from local farmer’s markets, bakeries, or butchers to support the local businesses. Aside from this, imported product has it’s own carbon footprint and it is higher the further the distance from origin to shelf.
It is easy to fall prey to generic industrialized souvenirs with a large carbon footprint. We all know the ones, the magnets and keyrings which are bulk manufactured in Far East factories. A precious bottle of small batch liqueur from a local distillery or a local artists canvas painting or sculpture of your new favourite landmark will be a more worthwhile spend of your money to the local economy and help to preserve their crafts and cultures.
Before you attempt sustainable travel, learn a few key phrases that will help get you by on your trip. A Rosetta Stone course isn’t necessary but being equipped with some basics is considered polite and will impact how locals treat you.
Refrain from offending local cultures by covering up where applicable. Sarongs are lightweight and can be used for multiple purposes too.
Some sunscreens contain harmful toxins to reefs and marine life and should not be worn in the seas. If you intend on snorkeling, scuba diving or just taking a quick dip, wear reef-safe sunscreen.
Do not participate in any tour that would promise hands on experience with wild or dangerous animals. Unfortunately, these animals are often kept in inhumane conditions and are drugged for souvenir photos. If you do, you are supporting an industry that illegally capture and abuse millions of animals each year.
There are many eco options of lightweight re-usable bags available. In carrying one, you can shop the local markets and turn down the single use plastic bag.
Buying bottled water can be expensive, and it continues the demand for single use plastic production. A re-usable personal water bottle has become particularly trendy, and so many are paraben, BPA and toxin free! Often when travelling, your destination may not have safe to drink tap water. In this case, we recommend a portable water purifier or portable water purifier bottle.
This tackles two issues in one solution. Solid toiletries can be held in your carry on luggage – hurrah! At the same time, it reduces your demand for single use plastic and in turn reduces your footprint. Solid shampoo bars, deodorant blocks, soaps and more are all widely available. Bonus, they last longer too!
As you might do at home, turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave your room. Ensure TV’s are off and not just on stand by. These are little things, but could make a dramatic difference long term, if practiced by everyone.
Water is a luxury in some countries and sadly, we can take it for granted. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Shower instead of bath. Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the duration of your stay so that housekeeping refrain from washing your towels and bed linens every day.
It is common knowledge that planes produce more pollution the more weighed down they are. If you want to make a difference here, and you can afford to do so, travel lighter.
Not only would it be incredibly disrespectful to the locals, but it is disrespectful to the land, harmful to wildlife and unsightly.
This will require some research, but it is very important to choose tour companies that at a minimum pay employees fair wages and benefit the environment. It would be an added bonus if they give back to the local community, support education or conservation. Look for accreditations and read third party reviews.
There are correct ways to give back. It will be difficult but try to dodge giving money to children in the streets. This can be deemed as encouraging them to skip school and beg on the streets. If you wanted to help financially, you could support organizations in the area that provide food, shelter or education. Other ways you could give back would be to take a bag on a hike with you and pick up any litter or participate in a worthwhile volunteer programme. Perhaps encourage any hotel you visit to recycle by popping this quick suggestion in the suggestion box.
There you go, sustainable travel is easier than you thought right? It is all about lessening your own negative impact on the particular destination, and the wider world. Whilst it seems that as an individual you may not make much impact, if everybody contributed there would be a huge cumulative impact. Some of these tips you might even do at home, so continue them on your travels and try an additional tip.
Want to put these into practice on an upcoming business trip? Find out more about us and how we help businesses with their travel management here