sustainable travel

Travel sustainably: 10 tips for the eco-conscious traveller

The first step towards making our travel green is eliminating our actions that lead to waste and affects the environment.
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Travelling is one of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences one can have in their life. Going to new places, meeting new people, learning about their culture and having a stress-free time, what more can a person ask for? But sometimes, when we travel, we tend to act in a way that’s not beneficial to the environment. Without even realising, we make choices that can harm our surroundings and put animals at risk. For this reason, sustainable travel has become an important step towards wildlife and environmental conservation, which translates to being responsible and mindful while travelling.

In 2018, scientists at the University of Sydney had “estimated that the carbon footprint of global tourism may account for about 8 percent of all carbon emissions, and the total annual carbon emissions of tourism are nearly 4.3 billion metric tons.” From flights to boat rides to lodging, various activities contribute to the tourism carbon footprint. Hence, we need to be aware of our choices so we can become more conscious travellers. What does it mean? Being an eco-conscious traveller is about taking measures to reduce our carbon footprint while we are on a vacation.

The idea is to travel without adversely impacting the natural and cultural ecology of the place. But how to do that? The first step towards making our travel green is eliminating our actions that lead to waste and affects the environment. Here, we have given a few suggestions that can pave the way for sustainable travel and make your trip eco-friendly.

Pack light

The journey to becoming a more eco-conscious traveller starts at home. While packing for a vacation, carry only what you need. The idea is to pack light. For instance, if you are going somewhere for a week, do you need seven pairs of jeans? Understandably, you want to look fabulous on your trip. But think about the extra load that you have to carry with you everywhere. Also, in terms of your carbon footprint, the weight of your luggage does make a difference. A heavy bag will require more fuel during transport, which can send your carbon emissions through the roof—especially if you are flying to your destination. So, pack light and the environment will thank you.

Carry your own water bottle

Yes, sustainable travel can be that simple. To reduce waste and make your travel green, something as small as carrying your own water bottle can make a world of difference. According to UNEP, “around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute.” Moreover, when you are carrying your thermos or flask, you won’t have to buy bottled water every day. You can just refill it and be on your way. This will not only help reduce plastic waste but also make you a more responsible traveller.

Shop locally

When on your vacation, visit the local shops if you want to buy something. This one act can support the farmers and producers of the region. For instance, if you purchase your groceries at the local farmer’s market, you are helping them in more ways than one. Firstly, you are helping them stay in operation and secondly, many local producers take pride in keeping their products organic and free from pesticides. When you buy things from them, you are keeping such harmful toxins from getting used, which helps improve the air quality.

Choose a sustainable mode of transport

Of course, it’s easier to hop into your vehicle, drive wherever you need to go. But if it’s a short trip, consider choosing a more sustainable mode of transport. This means using public transport, carpooling, biking or even walking. Not only will you be able to reduce your carbon footprint but you’ll also get a more authentic experience of the place you are in.

Say no to straws

It wouldn’t be a surprise if you are wondering why you should focus on straws when there are other agents of pollution. It’s because using plastic straws is not a small issue. According to a Central Pollution Control Board report, about 15342 tons of plastic waste is generated in India every day. The worst part is, not all of these plastics are recycled. This is a huge cause of concern, especially as single-use plastic straws often end up in water bodies as they are littered on the beach or washed down by storm drains. Straws are one of the major culprits that put the lives of marine animals at risk.

Be wary of animal tourism

To travel sustainably, it is important to be responsible and ethical in your actions. So, if you are travelling to Thailand to visit an elephant sanctuary or embark on an African safari in Tanzania, you must do your research properly before choosing any tour operators. Make sure to pick the ones who are ethically responsible—who let the animals live in peace in their natural habitat.

Treat hotels like home

Fortunately, nowadays, you can easily find a sustainable property to stay in during your vacation. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t do more. Being an eco-conscious traveller is about doing your bit to protect the environment. How? Just treat the hotels like your home. Turn off the lights when you leave your room, take shorter showers, reuse hotel towels to conserve water, and keep your room clean. These small actions can make your travel eco-friendly.

Reduce waste

Another simple way to travel sustainably is to reduce your waste as much as possible. Start by using reusable bags, storage containers and towels. Purchase electronic tickets for air travel whenever possible. Buy fruits and vegetables without packaging. Do not use single-use plastic. Stay in eco-friendly hotels. These are some of the ways you can help the environment and make your travel green.

Eat more plant-based food items

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint when you travel, be more conscious about your food choices. Animal agriculture is a huge contributor to environmental issues, including climate change. According to a report by DownToEarth, “raising livestock generates 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that are very bad for the environment.” Therefore, cutting down on the consumption of meat and eggs can help you in that regard.

Visit nearby destinations

The shorter the distance from home to your destination, the lower will be your carbon footprint. Moreover, given the times we are in, it’s best to visit nearby, offbeat destinations for sustainable travel. You may think you know everything about the place, but the moment you get there, your opinions can change. You will realise there’s much more to see and explore than you initially imagined.

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