Today is Earth Day and to celebrate, I wanted to talk about the impact that traveling has on the environment. Conservation and working towards a better planet are causes that I feel super passionate about, and that has resulted in me making changes to my lifestyle.
I’ve slowed down on traveling, and I’ve started making more mindful decisions about the airlines I fly, the amount of flights I take, and where I stay along my travels.
With travel more accessible than ever before, mass tourism is creating problems for the world’s most popular travel destinations like Iceland and Thailand. So much so that some attractions in these countries have had to close down because of the negative impact tourists have had on the environment.
At the end of the day, we can all make small changes to our behavior to lessen the impact when we travel. From eating more plant-based diets to flying less and choosing responsible tour operators, we can all make a difference.
Here’s how you can reduce your environmental impact while traveling!
Take Fewer Flights
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how I’m pledging to offset my carbon footprint when flying. With the aviation industry producing 2% of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions and accounting for 859 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, one of the best things we can do for the environment is to start taking fewer flights.
I’m doing my part by traveling less, taking direct flights whenever possible and donating money to offset my carbon footprint.
You can donate to important projects that are attempting to lessen carbon dioxide emissions around the world—these projects include bringing renewable energy sources to communities, protecting our forests and oceans, and even restoration efforts.
Another thing that I’ve started practicing in 2019 is being more aware of an airline’s carbon footprint. Instead of choosing the airline with the cheapest fare, opt for an eco-friendly and sustainable airline.
Travel with Eco-Friendly Products
One of the easiest things you can do to reduce your environmental impact when traveling is to switch to more sustainable products. You want to avoid packing disposables and products that don’t have biodegradable packaging.
Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly travel products that I bring along on my trips:
- Bamboo Utensils Kit
- Collapsible Reusable Straws
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
- Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
- Reusable Gag (that folds up into a keychain!)
- Portable Solar Charger
- Biodegradable Deodorant Wipes
- Laundry Detergent Sheets
- Eco-Friendly Tupperware
Read More: Eco-Friendly Products for Travelers
Use Public Transportation
When traveling, try to use public transportation as much as possible. Both trains and buses are some of the lowest carbon-emitting modes of transport, next to riding a bicycle.
Instead of renting a car, you can use Uber’s carpooling options for short trips around the city, or if you’re traveling in Europe, you can use BlaBla Car.
But whenever you can, ditch the public transportation and hit the pavements for a walk. It will drastically cut your carbon emissions, and it’s good for your physical health!
Read More: The Ultimate Eco-Travel Guide
Stay in Eco-Friendly Hotels
It’s easier than ever before to find eco-friendly hotels for your next vacation. Whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge, businesses around the world are doing their best to reduce their footprint on the environment.
Here’s what you want to look out for in an eco-friendly hotel:
- Utilizes green energy sources
- Practices recycling and linen reuse initiatives
- Uses eco-friendly cleaning products
- Gives back to the local community and environment
- Actively committed to becoming a carbon neutral business
To save time finding eco-friendly hotels, you can use websites like BookDifferent and Eco BnB. If you already have your hotel booked and you can reduce your impact by turning off the lights when you leave the room, taking shorter showers, and keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature.
Read More: Best Luxury Eco-Hotels in the World
Choose Eco-Friendly Activities & Tour Operators
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and choose an activity without researching its impact on the environment. From riding elephants in Thailand to the ethics of whale shark tourism in the Philippines, it pays to make sure that your hard earned dollars won’t negatively impact the world.
At the same time, you also need to take a good hard look at the tour operators and guides that you’re using. A responsible company will give back to the local community, support conservation projects, and won’t promote unethical experiences.
One of the best parts about traveling is the food. It’s a great and delicious way to get to know another culture and experience a destination to its fullest.
However, not all local dishes are sustainable.
In Iceland, eating whale meat is common among tourists and locals. The downside is that whales are endangered and by supporting the industry, it fuels the demand for whale meat and negatively affects whale populations.
One of the resources that I use when I travel is the World Wildlife Fund’s SASSI list. You can search for any seafood, and the website will tell you if it’s a sustainable choice or not.
Some other things you can do while traveling including reducing your red meat consumption, refusing single-use plastic bottles, using reusable utensils and bringing your own containers for takeaway meals.
Reuse, Reduce and Recycle
No matter where you travel in the world, you need to be mindful about your consumption of the Earth’s precious resources. As Americans, we make up 5% of the world’s population, but consume 24% of the world’s energy.
Here are some of the ways you can recycle and reduce the amount of waste you make when traveling:
- Be mindful of your water and electricity usage
- Bring a reusable water bottle and avoid those plastic cups on the plane
- Use your own headphones instead of unwrapping the plastic-covered ones
- Bring a reusable bag you can use for purchases at shops
- Throw your trash away in the proper trash or recycling bins
- If you’re visiting a beach, use your reusable bag to pick up any trash
- Always use reef-safe sunscreen
We can all do something to reduce our environmental impact while traveling. Hopefully, these tips have given you some ideas on what you can do to travel smarter and greener.
Do you have any tips for traveling with a small carbon footprint? Let me know in the comments!