Changing your eco travel ways

 

It is now widely accepted that our world is in quite a bit of trouble. Our oceans are filled with plastic, the ozone is rapidly depleting, and many animals live on the edge of extinction.

And the main reason for all of this?

Simply, and sadly. Us.

According to the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program), travel-related activities account for up to 14 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions every year, and when you consider that there can be anything up to 8,000 planes flying through the skies at any given moment, you can’t help but wonder how on earth we’re supposed to help from down here on the ground.

When we travel, it’s important to understand that the minute you’ve packed your bags and got yourself out of the front door, you are invariably leaving a carbon footprint on your world. From turning the key in your car and driving to the airport, to getting out of the taxi, bus, or train at your destination, you are having some kind of impact on the planet.

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But all is not lost. There are many ways to change the way we live so that we can help restore our planet to the way it’s supposed to be. Just thinking about the way we travel is a great start.

“So what am I supposed to do? Not leave the house?”

Nobody expects you to stay at home forever! That would be daft (although, embarking on that ever-cool, low-energy usage camping trip is always a good option)! There are, however, a million and one different ways you can travel in a more sustainable, responsible, and eco-friendly way. Eco travel, or ecotourism as it is often referred to, is the new way go, and whether it’s as a sustainable tourist or a business traveller, it should now be a top priority in order to save the environment.

“So what can I do to become an eco-traveller?”

Take for example the simple question of how much luggage you are carrying. If you’re going away on a business trip for 2 days, do you really need 3 of everything? The simple fact is, the heavier your bags are when you travel, the more power your transportation vehicle needs to expend to carry them. “But what if I spill something on my blouse during that dinner party tomorrow night?” It’s understandable that you want to be prepared, and maybe, if you do have a little accident, this is a problem you can think about solving when you are there.

Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that you’re at least doing your part is saving our planet? Of course we all understand  that for a plane, the difference between carrying 2 boxer shorts in your suitcase instead of 3 is minimal, but if we all pull together and start thinking the same way, that’s when the difference will start to be apparent.

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And what about the place you are staying in? If you’re making the effort, that’s great, but what about the staff of the hotel or lodging you’re staying at? What are they doing to protect the environment? Make sure you plan ahead and look for a place, a location, and even an area that will not only do their part for the local economy, but look for those that are actively involved and aware of the impact they’re leaving. Does the hotel have a linen policy? Do they offer water-refills? Can they tell me what kind of green and ecofriendly activities are in the area?

Staying at a ‘green’ hotel, where the staff know what they’re doing, where the energy used is clean, and where all measures are taken to be ecofriendly is a huge step forward towards making sure you are being a good eco tourist.

Hotels have a new and big responsibility on what kind of emissions they let off, how much waste they are producing, and what kind of food they use at their lodging. Are they flying bottles of Coca-Cola over from another continent? Does the food they serve come in by plane? Are they giving their guests plastic bottles of water at dinner? A ‘green’ hotel will understand the impact these decisions are having on the people and the environment around them. Everything in a lodging that houses guests is on a large scale so it’s up to the owners to make sure they get it right.

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Finally, nobody expects you to suddenly travel and become an angel. When you go on holiday, most of the time you want to rest, relax, or see things which you’d otherwise not see at home. Doing volunteer work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you wanted to get involved, you should know that it would always be very appreciated by the local community.

If volunteering is not the holiday your’re looking for, then just be sure to minimise that impact you’re leaving in other ways. Avoid the use of power wherever you can. Hike, swim, take some surfing lessons, or even just lie by the pool. Hire a bicycle with your friends or family and go for a ride. Use your human power to do things instead of ‘dirty’ power produced.

And so it starts with you – and me of course, and then everyone else around us. Our family, our friends, our work colleagues, and anyone else whom we might come into contact with during our break and on our travels. And don’t be shy to call it out! If you see something that you know is not right, try to raise awareness to those around you so that we can all do our part to save our world.

Jason Pelham

Booking.com