When discussing ways to reduce our carbon footprints, flying less will often be at the top of the list. However, traveling is one of the most beautiful experiences in this life, one of which is hard to give up entirely. Fortunately, there are ways to be mindful of our carbon impact while still getting to see more of the world.
Sustainable travel, or green travel, is a growing trend where people find ways to experience the joys of travel in a much more sustainable way. Through a series of small steps, one can feel much better about themselves while also setting an example for others.
Choose a Sustainable Destination
There are countless great destinations to choose from. Truthfully, you could visit somewhere you’ve never thought of and have the time of your life. With that being said, some destinations are more sustainable than others, and making an educated choice is the first step in traveling more sustainably.
There are many online lists detailing the most sustainable cities, towns, and countries to visit. They’re chosen based on the local government’s commitment to protecting natural resources, energy consumption, and other factors. The Nordic countries are consistently at the top of these lists. Some smaller communities, like the islands of Palau, even require visitors to commit to protecting their natural and cultural heritage before entering.
Doing conscious research and choosing sustainable destinations is a great way to start off on a good foot.
Carry Your Own Sustainable Travel Kit
While it’s impossible to control the fuel emitted during a flight, you can control the amount of single-use plastic you consume. Ensure you have a waste-free travel experience by bringing a kit with all the essentials. This will cut down on the on-flight garbage and more for the remainder of your trip. A few of the essentials are:
- Cutlery: Bringing a reusable straw, fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks is crucial for the entirety of your trip.
- Insulated Thermos: A good travel thermos can be used for cold and hot beverages. This will cut down on all kinds of single-use items.
- Travel Towel: You’ll be offered many towels along the way. Bringing your own and using it as much as you can cut down on laundry energy.
- Water Bottle: While you can use an insulated thermos for water, you should also bring a small reusable water bottle. Sometimes you need coffee and water at the same time!
Shop and Eat Local
One of the most impactful ways of decreasing your carbon footprint, whether at home or abroad, is to shop and eat locally. If you need extra clothes, go to a nearby market and buy something handmade. Eating at food festivals, markets, and local restaurants reduces your carbon footprint and supports the community you’re visiting. Buying groceries from local farmers and shops is another way to positively impact the environment and local economy.
Consider staying in locally-owned homestays and hotels rather than chain hotels. If you are choosing to sightsee and do excursions, do your research and pick a company that prioritizes local suppliers. Traveling this way will not only reduce your environmental impact; it will also allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture!
Use Reef-Friendly Sunscreen
Using reef-friendly sunscreen is a simple way to ensure you’re traveling sustainably. Also known as mineral sunscreen, reef-friendly sunscreen is safe in the ocean. Traditional sunscreens contain chemicals that can be destructive to coral reefs and their inhabitants, and choosing a mineral sunscreen is a great way to do your part.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
You should always do your best to minimize energy usage and carbon emissions where you can. However, certain levels are unavoidable. When this is the case, you can compensate for these greenhouse gas emissions through a process called “carbon offsetting.”
Find a carbon footprint calculator online, and purchase offsets equivalent to the CO2 you produced during your trip. The money from your offset purchase will be invested in projects that reduce other greenhouse gases. These projects can even go beyond emission reduction, with some creating local jobs and conserving endangered species.
When choosing to offset your footprint, be sure to pick a reputable provider. Doing research will ensure you’re creating the most significant impact with your money!
Photo by Leah Kelley (Pexels.com)