Being a responsible and environmentally conscious citizen is a lot easier when you’re in control of your own living situation and surroundings. This is a lot more challenging when travelling around the world. Here are Canstar’s tips to help you be a more eco-conscious traveller.
How to be an eco-conscious traveller before your trip
Choose an appropriate destination
Since most forms of transportation contribute to climate change, you can help reduce the number of emissions being produced by vacationing at a destination that’s closer to home, or by choosing an alternative method of transportation to flying.
If you do have to travel by plane, choose airlines that use efficient aircrafts and have a higher occupancy. Though of minimal significance in the short term, it is the long-term effects of having too many planes flying around that will contribute to climate change.
It also helps to travel in areas that have access to public transportation. Sharing the load reduces the carbon emissions from private vehicles, while giving you the opportunity to meet some new people and interact with the locals.
While you’re taking care of the environment, don’t forget to take care of your travel insurance needs!
Before you travel to a new exotic destination and put these tips into action, it’s important that you get travel insurance to ensure you are protected in the case of an accident or emergency.
Choose the right place to stay
With a growing number of environmentally friendly accommodation options available, keep an eye out for places to stay that are energy efficient, use effective waste treatment systems and recycle.
One way to check if your accommodation of choice is environmentally friendly – and participates in sustainable initiatives – is to look out for seals of approval from environmental certification programmes. These programmes judge hotels on a number of factors, such as water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and sustainable site development.
The heavier the cargo it carries, the more carbon emissions an aircraft produces. For this reason, you should aim to pack only what you need when flying.
How to be an eco-conscious traveller on your trip
Be a responsible guest
Treating your accommodation like you do your own home and making a conscious effort to be a responsible guest goes a long way. Here are some ways you can be a responsible guest.
Instead of luxuriating in a bath, conserve water by taking showers instead and try to use less hot water.
Only use the lights you need and make sure to turn off the lights, taps and the air conditioner when you leave the room.
Give housekeeping the skip
Some hotels now offer incentives to guests who decline housekeeping services. Even if there are no incentives offered, you should skip housekeeping services when you don’t need it, as it means less water and energy is used and less waste is generated.
While you’re at it, don’t ask for new towels unless absolutely necessary. Reusing you towel will also help conserve water and cleaning products.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Reduce the number of plastic bags and disposable food packaging you use where possible. Plastic bags, in particular, do not degrade and can therefore result in pollution over time. You should also get into the habit of recycling newspapers, magazines and other recyclable items.
Dispose of waste properly
It should go without saying that you should dispose of waste appropriately. For example, don’t flush cotton buds and sanitary products down the toilet. Instead, make use of the appropriate waste bins.
Choose eco-friendly tour groups and organisations
When considering a tour organisation, find out how it gives back to the local community. As community-based tourism is the most sustainable, understanding whether tour operators lease the land from locals, hire local guides or play a part in preserving the area’s natural resources will help with your decision on whether to engage them or not.
It’s also wise to avoid groups that encourage hands on experiences with wild animals, such as elephant riding, as doing so supports the industry that illegally captures and abuses animals.
How to be an eco-conscious traveller when you’re heading home
When purchasing souvenirs, you should look at buying directly from local souvenir makers, such as artists or craftsmen. Imported souvenirs don’t support local businesses and therefore carry a higher carbon footprint than items made locally.
Not only that, but you should consider souvenirs that make practical gifts as opposed to items that will likely be lost in the back of someone’s wardrobe or thrown out. Items that can be consumed, such as local delicacies, or items that can be used in daily life make for better gifts.