Chances are, if you’re living a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle, you enjoy traveling. This is only from my personal experience, but those who care about the Earth also want to explore it and meet new cultures and people.
There are so many benefits to traveling. You explore new places, you learn new languages, you meet new people, you try new food, you learn the history of new places. As Ally Archer states, Founder of Go Seek Explore, “Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring a new place you have never been is a very eye opening experience. It puts into perspective everything you take for granted, and makes you appreciate other cultures aside from your own.”
Depending on how, where, and when you travel, it can also have some negative consequences on the planet. Check out this list of six ways you can travel while still being environmentally friendly.
Use Public Transportation
Using public transportation in a new city is a great way to get around. It saves you money compared to renting a car. You see side streets, shops, and local areas that you might miss if you are driving or taking a taxi. It also allows for a great way to people watch the locals. Most cities in Europe have great subway, bus, and train systems, which give you plenty of options to choose from when you are out exploring.
Shop at Local Markets
Nearly every city has a local farmers market where you can purchase various foods and vegetables. Shopping at local markets gives you the opportunity to interact with the locals. You are also supporting their local economy and avoiding shopping at chain stores which outsource their products.
Bring A Water Bottle
Clint Bertucci, founder of Travr, states that bringing a water bottle on his trips is a great way to be environmentally friendly when you are abroad. If you are traveling, chances are you will be doing a lot of hiking, exploring, and walking, meaning you’ll need to take in more water to stay hydrated. Rather than purchasing a new water bottle everywhere you go, a single reusable water bottle can save you money on your trip as well as reduce single use plastics.
Choose Environmentally Friendly Hotels
Hotels use a lot of energy to wash towels, feed their guests, and keep the lights on. Hotel chains, bed and breakfasts, and AirB&B’s are taking big steps to cut down on energy use. There are hotels which require you to put your key into a little slot in order to turn on the lights. This means that if you leave the room and bring your key, the lights automatically turn off. You might notice a lot of hotels leaving out notes and reminders to be smart about using your towels. Washing towels takes a lot of energy and water, especially when there are hundreds of guests each night.
Pay Extra to Offset your Carbon Footprint
Flying is probably the worst aspect of traveling when it comes to being mindful of the environment. The problem is in order to travel to new places and continents, you can’t help but hop on a flight.
Certain airlines allow you to pay an extra fee, usually around $10, to offset your carbon footprint. I won’t go into the details of how much CO2 a single passenger emits on a plane ride (One person flying from Los Angeles to Chicago and back: That adds 1,000 pounds of CO2) By 2021, airlines that fly internationally will have to offset any extra emissions under a UN agreement (called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, agreed on in 2018 in Montreal, Canada)
In the mean time, try to spare the extra money to help, or try to book a direct flight, as most CO2 is given off during take off and landing.
Participate in an Environmentally Friendly Activity
When you’re heading to a new location, look up Meet Up groups and environmentally friendly activities. Chances are, there are local clean ups and recycling clubs you can join. Beach destinations often have regular clean ups and most of the time they offer fun incentives to help.
For example, Selina Hostels has opportunities to participate in beach and scuba clean ups in their coastal locations.