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Taking time off to travel somewhere new and to explore what our amazing world has to offer can be an amazing experience. Which such a plethora of potential destinations at your fingertips, the options seem virtually endless. However, the environmental impact of the recent democratization of global travel is a bit concerning. Tourism now accounts for almost 10% of global emissions, and is only growing. So if you want to help the planet and make the air we breathe just a little bit cleaner, here are 10 simple tips to help you go green!
1. Take a non-stop flight
If you’re on a budget, it might be tempting to save a few extra dollars and opt for a connecting flight. But those extra miles can add significantly more emissions to your ecological footprint. Instead, opt for direct flights to your destination. If price is an issue for you, consider flying into nearby cities or shifting your departure dates by a few days. Sometimes, if you’re willing to be flexible, direct flights can actually be cheaper than connecting flights. A great way to compare flights is through Google Flights or Expedia.com.
2. Use an electronic boarding pass
Regardless of your method of travel, opt for an electronic boarding pass. Not only will this help reduce paper waste, but it will help prevent you from losing your ticket! And as an added bonus, you’ll be able to breeze past the airport check-in lines because you’ll be prepped and ready to go with a digital ticket on your mobile device!
3. Bring your own delicious snacks
Airplanes are notorious for single-use plastics, especially when it comes to individual snacks (peanuts, pretzels, plastic cups etc.). By bringing your own snacks, not only is this a great way to cut down on waste, but it can save your wallet. By filling up on snacks at the grocery store, you won’t be tempted to splurge at the airport. You can also pick the specific type of snacks you want and opt for healthier options (I love dried mango slices). Just remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly!
4. Skip the plastic water bottles
By now, this one is like preaching to the choir, but really just skip the plastic water bottles and get a reusable one. It is an obvious tip, but one of the most impactful and effort-free ways to help cut down on waste. There are plenty of sleek reusable stainless steel water bottles, and the great thing is, once you have a refillable one, the water is basically free! A lot of hotels and public places have clean and even filtered water readily available for you to fill up on. And if you’re going to a country where clean tap water is hard to find, you can consider bringing a portable filter or some water purification tablets. Fun Fact: Over 60 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away each year. Let’s help bring that number down!
5. Use public transportation
Whenever you travel, check out what the public transportation options are. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but a lot of popular tourist cities now have amazing networks of public transportation with signs and directions in multiple languages. Where possible, you should also try to use public transport to get to and from the airport. It is usually significantly cheaper compared to private transport and you’ll get a flavor for the local culture. You also might see places and interact with people you never would otherwise.
6. Stay at an eco-hotel
Whenever you travel, look for an eco-hotel option. An eco-hotel (or green hotel) is an environmentally sustainable hotel that seeks to minimize its impact on the environment. A lot of the time these can be unique and exotic locations that just add an extra layer of adventure to your travel experience. If one isn’t available, here’s a few tips to be responsible with your room: reuse your towels, skip the fresh sheets for a day or two and say no thanks to the disposable soaps in your room. You can also hang up your do-not-disturb sign to save on the energy required to clean your room. Best of all, some hotels now reward you for skipping a night of cleaning. So if nothing else, going green can actually help reduce the cost of your vacation.
7. Enjoy the local cuisine
When travelling to a new location one of the simple delights is trying out all of the local food. Not only does this give you a proper flavour for what the local culture is like, but it can help cut down on a lot of the energy required to transport food across the globe. So when you’re travelling somewhere new, drop into a farmer’s market and check out some restaurants that source their food locally.
8. Bring your own toiletries
Everyone loves getting the free travel-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles, but they are absolutely terrible for the environment. Instead, bring your own or buy your toiletries once you arrive at your destination. Not only will this cut down on waste, but you’ll get to use products that you know and love with NO surprise chemicals on your body!
9. Relax and take the train
10. Before you go, unplug your home
We have become so reliant on technology in the past few decades that we rarely realize how much of what surrounds us is actually “turned on”. So make sure to turn off the lights, lower the thermostat, and unplug all of your devices (including TVs, modems, and any smart devices) before heading off on your next adventure!