7 Tips for Green Travel in 2019
The travel industry has a huge environmental footprint. Between throwaway toiletries, daily-washed hotel linens and the ginormous jets of a 747, the travel industry is spouting carbon emissions left, right and centre. These days, we’re opting for green solutions in more and more areas of our lives. We’re buying greener foods, choosing greener clothes, etc. Why does it seem like green travel is one step behind?
Travellers often have a throw-caution-to-the-wind mentality. And in a lot of ways, we love that. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Right? The problem with that mentality is when we start to leave our environmental conscience at home. When we’re on vacation, the idea is that we shouldn’t have to worry about anything. Of course, we still do worry. We worry about catching our next flight. We worry about our passports being stolen. And we worry about applying enough sunblock. They don’t detract from the vacay, they’re just a natural part of it. And so, those natural worries, need to extend now to the environment. Green travel shouldn’t cause extra drama. It should just become an organic part of how we always travel.
And while a lot of the environmental problems with travel are just innate, there are a lot of things we can do to reduce our footprint. So let’s travel green in 2019.
Here are 7 tips for green travel this year:
Green travel is also about green eating. And, let’s be honest, you didn’t go on vacation to hit whatever McDonalds or Starbucks is around the corner from your hotel. The kind of chain restaurants use preservatives and often have their food shipped from miles away. This then results in carbon emissions from transportation and is not very eco-friendly. You did go on vacation to experience the local flavour (pun intended). Local restaurants use local ingredients. Not only does that make them healthier, but it means there’s less environmental impact from shipping ingredients. Research restaurants ahead of time, or better, check out the local markets. The food is fresh, the experience is authentic, and you’re feeding back into the local economy.
Pack your Reusable Water Bottle
If you’re travelling during the summer months, it’s important to hydrate. Especially this summer, when temperatures in Europe are so hot that meteorologists are calling it hell. Packing your reusable water bottle is an important part of green travel. We like this stainless steel water bottle from WAKECup. There’s nothing more wasteful than buying a dozen plastic bottles of water a day. Worried about local drinking water? Try boiling tap water if you have the facilities. If you don’t, consider investing in a portable water steriliser. But if you absolutely must buy a bottle, buy a large one rather than several small ones. This will result in less plastic waste and make your holiday more eco-friendly.
Opt Not to Fly
Airline travel is one of the most environmentally damaging human activities. Flights emit on average 90 kg of CO2 every hour. If you must travel by air, try to book a nonstop rather than a connecting flight. But if you’re not going too far, think about other transport options. Car, bus, and boat are all more sustainable than aeroplanes. If you’re travelling around mainland Europe, we also recommend the train. Trains are much more eco-friendly than both air and road transport. According to the EPA, they emit 50% less fuel per passenger than planes on the same trips. They can also be a much more picturesque and relaxing experience. Rather than fighting for legroom in a middle seat in coach, sprawl out with a coffee in the dining car and enjoy the view. That’s what green travel is all about.
Choose Green Hotels
This is a big one. One of the green travel choices you make will be the hotel you choose to book. So choose carefully. You don’t want to end up somewhere that washes tonnes of sheets and towels every night and throws around mini shampoos like they’re candy on Halloween. Luckily, more and more hotels are going green and opting for sustainable alternatives. Unluckily, more and more hotels are also claiming to “go green” and not really doing it. How can you tell the difference? It’s best to opt for a hotel that’s third-party certified by bodies like Green Key, Green Globe, ISO 14001 and LEED Green Building Certification. These certifications encompass everything from how the hotels deal with waste to what types of chemicals they use to clean the rooms. Trust us, you’ll rest easier in an eco-friendly hotel room that’s guaranteed not to have creepy toxins sprayed on the pillows.
Choose Sustainable Toiletries
The travel toiletries industry is a weird one. You will buy travel toiletries in advance, you will impulse buy more travel toiletries at the airport, and when you get to the hotel, you’ll still realise you forgot toothpaste. Basically, you buy a lot of tiny plastic tubes/bottles and then probably throw them away at the end of the vacay. If you're thinking about green travel, it's worth investing in sustainable travel toiletries. Check out this natural toothpaste powder from Georganics and this shampoo bar from Friendly Soap. Not only are they all-natural, but they’re conveniently not even liquids. Which, of course, means no embarrassing fiddling with the ziplock plastic bag at airport security.
Use Public Transport
Walking or cycling around your vacation spot are your best options for truly green travel. They’ll reduce your carbon footprint. And more, importantly, they’ll let you actually see the place you’re visiting. You never want to visit a city and feel like you spent more time underground on the metro system than actually above ground breathing air. Then, when you’ve walked your 20,000 steps and your thigh muscles are going to burst with lactic acid, hop on that subway or bus. Public transport is a lot more sustainable than renting a car. Better for the environment, and better for your wallet as well. Besides, if you visited a city and didn’t get majorly lost on the public transport system, did you really visit at all?
Eco-Proof Back Home
If you’re running out the door to catch your flight, don’t forget to eco-proof your home before leaving. Unplug all your appliances so as not to waste any energy. Turn off the air conditioning or heating. And of course, remember to turn off all the lights. If you’re worried about burglars, then invest in timers for the lights. This is a much more sustainable option than leaving a light on the whole time you’re gone. Plus, it will actually make the house look more lived-in. Sometimes the most important part of green travel is what’s actually happening at home.
Green travel isn’t just about what you shouldn’t do, it’s also about what you can do. You can learn about other ways of life. You can make a positive impact on local economies. Or, you can even volunteer. The unsustainable impact of the industry isn’t a reason to stop travelling. It is a reason to think about how we can travel better, greener and more wisely. #travelgreenin2019