Seven Steps To Becoming An Environmentally Conscious Traveller

A forest with the back of a person in the foreground, holding a reusable water bottle
Lucy Tombs

All of us love a good holiday from time to time. However, it is a well-known fact that travelling has had a negative effect on our environment. From carbon emissions produced by planes to the litter left behind by tourist groups, our holidays have had a direct impact on climate change and we should all make efforts to reduce this impact.

However, I will be the first to say that knowing what we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint when travelling can be confusing and it can be difficult to know where to start. This article hopes to help readers understand the impact of both their small and big actions on the environment and to provide information and tips on how to be more environmentally conscious when travelling.

  1. Choose direct flights and airlines that offset your CO2 emissions

It seems pretty obvious that airplanes produce a vast amount of carbon and emit this into the atmosphere. Whilst there are limited alternative options when travelling aboard, there are some changes that you can make. Take-off and landing can contribute to 25% of total emissions on a flight, so buying direct flights will definitely decrease your total emissions.

Additionally, lots of airlines operate CO2 offsetting initiatives where you pay an extra fee, and this is donated to a carbon offset scheme. Alternatively, you can use online calculators to find out how to offset your carbon and donate accordingly yourself.

Walking or cycling are even better options

  1. Use public transport when travelling domestically

Whilst it might often be easier and more comfortable to use a private taxi or car, choosing public transport when travelling can reduce your carbon footprint. This can include trains, buses or shared transfers; there are a host of options for those looking to use public transport on their holiday. Walking or cycling are even better options once you are at your destination and these are excellent ways of exploring the local area.

  1. Stay at sustainable hotels

There are plenty of hotels, big and small, that have sustainable, eco-friendly initiatives in place to offset the impact they have on the environment. Hotels that employ local people are always a fantastic option as this provides locals with an income and thus can help to pull individuals out of poverty. Additionally, hotels that use sustainable energy sources, donate to charities and ensure their rubbish is correctly recycled are also great options. Larger chain hotels often have initiatives that help the environment, for example, Four Seasons Hotels have launched a ‘10 Million Trees Initiative’ to plant trees in countries where they are based!

Birds eye view photo of a checked suitcase, with a map, camera and passport on tope

  1. Pack light

I couldn’t count the number of times I have packed too many clothes for a holiday and then not worn half of them. Reducing the number of items in your suitcase is a simple, yet effective way of reducing your environmental impact. Packing fewer items in your suitcase may not make a particularly large difference on its own, but if everyone makes these little changes then the overall impact of passenger baggage weight can be greatly reduced. This works to reduce the carbon emissions from your flight, and also from your car when travelling domestically.

This also enables you to support the local economy 

  1. Shop local when at your destination

By purchasing locally produced goods such as souvenirs and food, you will reduce your carbon footprint as items have not had to be imported from overseas. This also enables you to support the local economy and in areas that rely heavily on tourism, this will make an important contribution.

  1. Reusable products

By bringing reusable items on your trip, you can avoid the confusion surrounding what can and can’t be recycled in different areas and countries. You will also reduce the risk of littering, which is often a problem in tourist locations. Avoiding single-use plastic is a must for your holidays and simple steps such as bringing your own water bottle can make all the difference.

  1. Eating sustainably

Whilst it is tempting to indulge in red meat, fish and diary on holiday, these options all have an immense impact on the environment. I am not saying you have to abstain from trying the local cuisines completely, but just be conscious of your dining choices. There are lots of local specialities that will be suited to vegetarians or vegans, why not give one of these a try!

Lucy Tombs

Featured image courtesy of Bluewater Globe via Unsplash. Image license found here. In-article image courtesy of Francesca Tirico via Unsplash (license). No changes were made to the images.

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