Today our society is more than ever interested in sustainable living; fighting global warming, saving wildlife, decreasing plastic pollution and in general being eco-friendly. Unfortunately some of us forget about all of that while being on vacation. We take a break not only from our jobs, but also from every day’s routines and attitudes. This is easy to avoid as staying sustainable while travelling is not that challenging. I will help you to stay “eco” wherever you go without getting crazy about it!
Bring your own water bottle and reusable travel accessories
In certain developing countries drinking a bottled water is a must to avoid dangerous poisoning. In parts of the world where this is not mandatory, you can easily help fighting plastic pollution. Just buy a reusable water bottle that you can refill as many times as you want. The refill stations are very common these days and easy to find at the airports, in hotels, museums and some shops. You will not only save environment, but also some money! If you prefer to use water rather to bath than to drink 😉 choose glass bottles or cans over plastic containers, while shopping other beverages.
Are you preparing your own meals, make picnics or BBQ on location during your trip? Buy a set of reusable travel cutlery, plates and mugs instead of getting a single use plastics.
Last but not least, bring your own shower gel, shampoo and other cosmetics in reusable travel containers designated for that purpose. This is better than buying them abroad or using free but low quality products available in hotels. If you use a mask or other face covering, buy your own and wash it before you go to sleep. Imagine how much less rubbish would you produce!
Save water and energy as a part of your sustainable living
Plenty of tourists leave lights on or water running when they leave their accommodation to go out. Why? They think it does not matter because they will not pay the bill, anyways. This is a very irresponsible and childish behaviour, bad for environment (unnecessary waste) and not fair towards local people (who in the poorest regions may have limited access to water and energy).
Please switch everything off once you are leaving, including air conditioning – it really does not have to run for hours in an empty room! Consider agritourism or camp sites if you are looking for adventure, not comfort.
Re-think your transport options to be more sustainable
Tourism cannot exist without transportation, which is obviously always bad for the environment due to carbon footprint and other pollution. There are many ways to decrease those by, for instance: deciding to take longer holiday less times a year than shorter many times, choosing trains or buses over domestic planes, choosing local transport or renting bicycles instead of renting a car (or renting electric cars if possible).
Several years ago I decided to have at least two cycling days on every long vacation I take. Believe me, there are many others advantages of doing that other than being eco-friendly and I will definitely write about it at some other occasion.
If cycling is not your cup of tea, you can stay longer in one place and try long trekking, hiking, kayaking, diving or other sports, instead of just travelling from one spot to another to tick all your highlights. Be careful – there’s a possibility that you will have a lot of fun!
Environment friendly way to spend your money on vacation
For me pictures are the best souvenirs from my trips. But sometimes I buy local craft, arts or clothes. If you like to bring souvenirs from your trips, whatever it is, always choose local products. There is no point to buy cheap, low-quality items, made in other countries and then often forgetting about them very quickly at home. Buying local products is one of the best way to support local communities and reduce carbon footprint (as commercial items travel thousands of kilometres!) and tons of plastic or other rubbish (used for packaging).
The same rule is applicable to all services – try to use local hotels, restaurants, street markets, businesses and travel guides instead of international chains and travel agencies. Simply, they use local products, hire local people and keep profit in their countries, which help to develop them.
Do not take free things and produce unnecessary rubbish
Do you really need to take every leaflet, map, postcard or other piece of paper only because it is for free? Probably not. All the information is easily accessible online. Use your smartphone to take a picture if you are afraid that you will forget something. Use mobile apps to take notes or to save addresses or phone numbers instead of bringing paper notes and pens with you. It’s more “green” and also will save some room in your baggage.
More sustainably? Do your research online and take it easy!
If you want to become even more environment-friendly tourist, check options available online for the country of your destination. There are loads of interesting options as sustainable living becomes a fashion that generates money for many people and companies. Search online for eco friendly destinations, environment friendly accommodation, travel agencies or local organisations following international eco-tourism guidelines, fair trade products etc.
Just be aware that because now it is a well profitable business, not every commercial website or influencer’s profile on this topic is trustworthy. Try to avoid fake news and spend some good time on your research.
Remember that even a few small steps will make you more responsible and sustainable traveller. Do not get stressed or upset if not everything is possible. Even small changes, or just few of them (as well as leading an example) are important.
If you are an active traveller who want to organise your own eco-friendly adventure, The Guardian’s article 20 of the best sustainable holidays in Europe for 2020 may inspire you.
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