All you need to know about Travelling Green
The travel industry is one of the world’s largest industries, with billions of people travelling globally. It is making a worldwide impact on the environment in terms of warming effects of carbon and more locally, in terms of its effect on wildlife, indigenous cultures, and cultural heritage sites — from the destruction of coral reefs to the accumulation of plastic waste in remote villages and parks.
Green travel is a broad term with two main branches: It refers first and foremost to responsible travel practices that pay attention to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. It can also refer to eco-tourism, which involves responsible travel specifically to natural areas. According to The World Conservation Union eco tourism refers to "Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples."
Why should we bother greening our travel practices? Reducing our collective transportation footprint (aka environmental impact) could significantly lower the amount of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere.
Before You Go: Greener travel starts before we actually start traveling. Follow these packing and home preparation tips to prepare for eco friendly holiday.
• Pack light. The more weight trains, planes, and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Packing light also helps you move around without caring much about lugging your luggage.
• Bring a reusable water bottle and shopping bag. Toss the bag in the suitcase and keep the water bottle handy for filling clean drinking water wherever available. Using both items will help cut down on wasteful packaging during travel.
• Turn off — and unplug — lights and electronics. Turning off electronics saves on the electricity bill and cuts down on energy usage. Always unplug all electronics, since they can “leach” power even when they’re not turned on.
• Suspend newspaper delivery. A quick call to the newspaper agency can save trees for the time that you’re away.
Getting There: Choosing How to Travel - Airplanes have been pretty vilified by the green community (it does take a lot of fuel to keep those things up in the air), but the greenest method of transportation might actually depend on how far we have to go. The basic breakdown, in terms of pounds of CO2 emitted per mile, goes something like this: Buses, trains, hybrid cars, and coach seats on narrow jets weigh in with the smallest carbon footprints at less than ½ pound of CO2 per mile. The “medium carbon footprint” category goes to regular cars and coach or regional jets. The worst carbon offenders are SUVs and first-class jets, which produce more than one pound of CO2 per mile.
• Buses tend to be the best option all around. The environmental benefits of motor coaches are impressive: A couple of friends taking the bus will automatically cut their carbon emissions nearly in half — even when compared to a hybrid. And compared to flying, they will cut their emissions anywhere from 55 to 75 percent.
• For shorter trips: Take the train or bus instead of flying. Doing so emits three to seven times less gas than air travel. • If renting a car: Don’t go for a big car if you don’t need one.
• If traveling by air: Use the most direct route possible; take offs and landings use the most fuel.
Whether you're staying in a hotel or with family, there are steps you can take to minimize environmental impact in transit.
• Choosing a (green) hotel: There are some accrediting bodies for green hotels. Even if you don’t find exactly that try choosing a hotel that has an organic garden or uses the local produce for their food, composts their waste, conserves water and electricity, recycles, uses solar and renewable energy and has the basic ethics for being environmentally friendly.
• At the hotel. Follow some simple practices to minimize energy use: Keep showers short, and shut off the water while brushing your teeth. Turn off the TV, lights, and heat or air-conditioning whenever you leave the room.
• Getting around: Use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
• Shopping: Purchase meals, foods, and other products from local vendors (and use that reusable bag to carry your goods).
• Eating: Challenge yourself to include in local or organic ingredients in your dishes.
Eco friendly travelling does not have to be hard or expensive to do some simple things to lessen the impact of your travel. It can also be a fun learning experience for the whole family. Check out our eco shop where we’re sure you’ll find something that suits your travel experiences.
How do you travel green? Share your stories and tips with us in the comments box below!