Whether to explore, relax, work, or play, there is no denying that traveling to new places is thrilling. Unfortunately, though, tourism and traveling can have detrimental effects on the environment. Traveling heavily impacts pollution, deforestation, and the depletion of natural resources. The good news is, with minimal effort, you can travel in a more conscious, environmentally-friendly way. Here are our top tips to make your next adventure a sustainable one.
Choose Ethical Accommodations & Airlines
When traveling, choosing an eco-friendly place to stay is the first step you can make towards a more sustainable trip.
When searching for your hotel or vacation rental, keep an eye out for options with:
- Energy-efficient appliances
- Lots of natural light and windows
- Solar panels
- Recycling bins
- Walkability to local attractions
If you are flying to your destination, search for airlines that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and care about the planet. Many airlines offer programs to offset your carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects.
When booking a flight, choose a direct route or the shortest route possible, and check if your airline has any fuel-efficient flight options. Check out LeafScore’s 6 Most Sustainable Airlines.
Use Public Transportation
Public transportation in the form of buses and trains use significantly less fuel than planes and even automobiles. Statistics say that traveling by bus rather than plane could decrease your carbon footprint by up to 13 times!
A single bus or train also transports large amounts of people at once, reducing the number of cars on the road. “Every vehicle on the road releases an average of one pound of CO2 per mile driven. Compared with driving alone, taking public transportation reduces CO2 emissions by 45%, decreasing pollutants in the atmosphere and improving air quality,” according to UCLA.
Walk or Bike
When you make it to your destination, travel to local spots by bike or foot if you are able. The Pacific Institute found that walking 1.5 miles created less than a quarter of the carbon emissions as driving the same distance. That’s a big difference! You also help protect biodiversity for plants and animals by reducing noise and air pollution.
Not only are you reducing carbon emissions (and getting in some great exercise) by walking or cycling, but you get to further discover all the beauty that your destination has to offer. It’s a win-win!
Pack Your Reusables & Refillables
Using low-waste, reusable products is a great daily habit at home, but even more impactful while traveling. Think of all the waste created from take out cups and to-go containers, plastic cutlery and straws, shopping bags, toiletries, and plastic water bottles during your travel. To avoid all that trash, here’s much a lower-waste packing list:
- Reusable water bottle or tumbler
- Reusable straws and utensils
- Food storage containers
- Reusable shopping bags
- Refillable toiletries and personal care items
- Jar of Nix Mouthwash
- Compostable toothbrush
Eat & Shop Local
During your journey, choosing to eat and shop close by helps support the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint of imported goods. Local items do not have to travel as far to get to stores or restaurants, meaning less greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, you are reducing your own travel emissions by supporting local.
Opt out of printing your boarding pass, travel guide, itineraries, or maps for your trip. All of these can be accessed using apps on your phone, tablet, or computer to help reduce paper waste. Let’s be honest, it all gets tossed in the trash bin once you get back home.
You may be thinking, does the size of my suitcase really affect the environment? Yep! Packing light for your trip helps to directly reduce weight on planes, trains, buses and automobiles, allowing for higher fuel efficiency and less carbon emissions.
According to Finnair airline, reducing the weight of your baggage by 5kg (around 11lbs) will reduce your carbon footprint by about 5%.
So next time you start packing for a trip, think twice about which items you truly need and don’t need to bring. You will feel great knowing you reduced your carbon footprint, and so much more organized! Many airlines will charge for luggage that exceeds a certain weight, so you’ll likely save yourself from any additional fees, too.
Traveling to new places and exploring the world is a beautiful gift, just as Mother Earth is. The more we work to travel sustainably, the longer we will get to experience the true beauty that our planet has to offer. So for your next adventure, remember to choose your accommodations and transportation accordingly, pack light and low-waste, and support local. Safe and happy traveling!