I (Emma) love travelling but I also recognise that my (occasional) jet-setting lifestyle can be harmful to the world around me. I’m certainly not advocating that everyone stop travelling as that’d be really hypocritical but I, as a card-carrying member of the Green Party, have some really cool susty hacks for eco-travelling so I’ll be sharing my tips on how you can make your travels more earth-kind.
Take it Slow
One of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint is the actual method of transport. It shouldn’t be surprising that the plane is often a very un-eco form of transport; especially if you’re only travelling short distances. So if you’re not going very far- like around Western Europe – consider using slower methods of transport like the train, bus, or boat. To check the best method for a specific journey, head to the WWF’s Travel Helper.
Choose Alternative Holiday Spots
Travelling is about exploring the unknown but there’s no reason that why that has to be halfway across the world. There will be places in your own country, state, and even hometown, that you have yet to explore and they can still be as exciting as a place much further afield. You may even find yourself somewhere that tourists never see. Plus it’s a lot easier to use slow travel methods to get to those places.
Pack it Right
Transport, or lack thereof, is the biggest environmental hurdle for all eco-travellers but there are tons of other ways to cut your damaging impact on the globe. A lot of travelling can involve other unsustainable practices, like eating take-out food, drinking bottled water, and even abandoning your usual recycling efforts. That’s why I have a susty travel kit in my suitcase to help me stay green while getting a tan.
Reusable water bottle
If you’re going somewhere hot, it’s worth investing in a reusable bottle which will keep your tap water cool all day without producing condensation on the outside of the bottle. If you’re travelling to somewhere where the tap water is questionable at best, consider using a Steripen which sanitises water using LED light and can be charged via USB or the LifeStraw water bottle, which filters water through its straw.
Lunch Box (or cooler bag) with picnic cutlery and crockery
The benefits of this are two-fold; not only will you be more eco-friendly but it will save you money on food. Even if you are grabbing something while out and about, using reusable cutlery, straws etc will cut your waste.
This cuts down on your paper napkin usage by allowing you to wipe your face after meals or mop up after a drink spill.
These are the easiest way to make a green difference while travelling, load them up with souvenirs (ec0 choices are discussed below) or lunch.
Period Panties/ Menstrual Cup/ Reusable Pads
For those of us with a uterus, one of the biggest ways we can be greener is by cutting out the pads and tampons. Even if you don’t think that you’ll be ‘on’ while you’re away, make sure you’ve packed them.
Those miniature bottles of toiletries- which some people think are cute?- are actually terrible for the environment. Some companies, like Lush, are embracing reduced packaging and offering packaging-free body lotion, facial moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Even their toothpaste comes in recyclable packaging.
Buy Fewer Souvenirs
While we’re on the subject of what to take, let’s discuss what not to bring home.
Cheap trinkets from touristy shops are often poorly made and will break within months (or even weeks) of purchase, meaning they’ll end up in a landfill.
Try to find locally made products or edible gifts, rather than the Made in China products. Not only is it better for the environment, it also reduces the chances that your souvenir was produced in a sweatshop.
So, those are my main eco-hacks for your travels but what are some of yours? Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? Share in the comments below.