We all know that some sustainable lifestyle changes are easier to make than others! In our crusade to become more environmentally friendly we have seen a significant rise in people opting for less single-use plastic and zero-waste. And rightly so. But how about our holidays? Is that a step too far for our planet-friendly commitment?
What is the Environmental Impact of Travel
Research suggests that tourism contributes around 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, with air travel being the biggest culprit of all! The rise in luxury travel and over tourism through large ship cruises and saturated city breaks have also contributed to an increasingly negative impact.
The footprint of air travel alone is pretty scary! The aviation industry is now recognised as responsible for around 2% of carbon dioxide emissions, making air transport one of the most environmentally damaging activities we can undertake.As the travel industry continues to grow, the impact on our planet will only begin to grow. Unless we do something about it! Here we take a look at our top tips of how we can travel more sustainably and see which companies are helping us to make the best choices!
1. Choosing the Right Transport
Planes, trains and automobiles. They all have an impact on our environment. And we know that (generally speaking) going on holiday by the power of a bicycle is fairly impractical!
But we do have options. Where it is possible to avoid air travel then great, let’s do it! Opt for forms of public transport where routes are well planned and the carbon footprint is shared amongst an optimal number of passengers. Even if you’ve travelled on holiday by aeroplane, you can always pick a local bus or train service to get out and about once you’re there. Much better than getting a private taxi! Or even better – get working down that shoe leather (or flip-flop) and explore your destination on foot!
2.Prepare to be (Eco)-Friendly!
Pack responsibly and avoid taking any plastics on holiday with you. Often our holiday times are when we take the most shortcuts. Anything from using small disposable toiletries to buying water in plastic bottles. Make your preparations at the suitcase packing stage and pop in a number of key essentials.
We recommend using refillable toiletry bottles, re-usable water bottles (with filtration if necessary) and a fold-away bag that you can easily use for grocery and souvenir shopping! Try not to let those eco-friendly habits take a holiday too!
3. Eat Local
When you’re exploring a new destination it often adds to the experience to sample the regional food and locally-brewed drinks! Not only are you experiencing the breadth of a new culture, you are also helping to support local communities in developing their business infrastructure.
By choosing the local speciality food and drink, you are also reducing the amount of ‘production mileage’ which is often associated with the major brands. Instead of encouraging the import of international brands you can help to reduce the carbon cost of the tourism industry by eating the ‘catch of the day’. Both the planet and your taste buds will thank you greatly!
4. Pack Light
Remember that every kilo counts … and not just in the cost of your excess luggage fees! The more a plane weighs, the greater the cost in carbon emissions. So if everyone on the flight makes an extra special effort to take just the bare essentials then the impact of air travel can be greatly reduced. So ask yourself if you really need to take that extra pair of ‘just in case’ shoes or spare beach towels when you can use the ones supplied locally.
If you opt for re-fillable travel sized toiletry bottles or ‘all-purpose‘ soap bars instead of lots of separate shampoo, gels and conditioners then this can take a lot of the weight out of your case! There are also some items that you will be able to buy locally. So no need to take your favourite brand of baked beans with you!
5. Make Yourself at Home
When you’re in a hotel (luxurious or otherwise) it’s always tempting to make the most of the amenities. But there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your trip whilst maintaining some of those everyday eco-friendly habits you have at home.
Say ‘no’ to fresh sheets and clean towels everyday. The impact of continually washing, drying and replacing towels and linens in the tourist industry all adds up to a pretty powerful punch! So, it’s easy to do your bit to reduce the impact!
6. Small Group Travel
If you like to explore the world and experience different cultures then we are certainly not going to stand in your way. Understanding other communities and seeing how they live can give us all a very powerful insight into the world … and indeed how we can protect it!
Lots of destinations now suffer the ill-effects of ‘over-tourism’. This is where the tourist infrastructure is struggling to cope with the sheer weight of visitors and as a result the environmental impact can be damaging.
We recommend travelling as part of a small-group tour. Experienced companies with a strong commitment to responsible travel have made it their business to find ways to reduce the impact of our holidays. So instead of heading out on grand cruise ship this summer … why not give a small group adventure cruise a go? Take a look at our friends at Intrepid Travel for inspiration!
7. And Finally … Travel Responsibly
We’ve all heard the saying ‘leave only footprints’ right? Well that’s all it takes to travel responsibly! Just stick to the basic rules such as staying on marked paths when cycling or hiking. Straying from the approved routes can often lead to damage to the local flora and fauna – not to mention compromise your safety!
Be wary of tourist attractions that involve animals. Animal tourism inflicts untold cruelty on captive species that are meant to be roaming free in the wild. Stay away from anywhere that encourages the riding, petting, holding or walking of wild animals. And if you see something untoward … report it!
Latest Sustainable Tourism News
1. Qantas Operates First ‘Zero Waste’ Flight – Qantas has recently operated its first flight that will send no on-board waste to landfill sites. Qantas has pledged to eliminate around 75 % of its waste by the 2022 and significantly reduce its use of single-use plastics. Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta have all committed to reducing the number of single-use plastics on flights, while Austrian Airlines has partnered with an oil company to find an alternative use for its used plastic cups by converting them into new fuels and plastics.
2. Cruise Lines Start to Turn the Tide on Plastics! – All of the major cruise lines share their commitment and progress on reducing single-use plastic and pollution. G Adventures and Intrepid Travel outline their approach to reducing the impact of cruising through the use of smaller ships! Read all about it here!
3. TRYP by Wyndham Dubai sets the standard for hotel industry with award-winning environmentally-friendly initiatives. This c650 room hotel in the UAE is really raising the bar in sustainable hospitality and is perhaps one of the greenest hotels in the region. Find out why.