When it comes to eco-conscious traveling, the first things that come to most people's minds are probably things like camping or choosing to do yoga or meditation in nature. In fact, eco-conscious traveling is more than that and it includes so many smaller yet still "green" activities that are part of what it means to be an environmentally conscious traveler.
You do not need to take green travel to the extreme. As long as you do your best to be more eco-conscious, you are considered doing your part. The best practice and phrase to remember when traveling is to "Leave No Trace" which means to leave nothing behind but footprints.
ECO-CONSCIOUS TRAVEL IS NOT A ‘FAD’
Is eco-conscious traveling a fad? Well, it's not something in passing but rather as a way of life now. This growing trend is spreading fast across the travel industry. Have you noticed the signs in your hotel rooms which ask if you want your linen/towels washed or not? Did you realize that all electricity are automatically turned off when you leave your room? Some hotels even installing solar panels on their rooftops and water recycling systems to reduce consumption.
If you care about the environment and you are also a travel enthusiast, there are some really easy ways that you can be eco-conscious while doing it. Here are some of the top ten tips for traveling eco-consciously.
1. Bring your own spill-proof tumbler or aluminum water bottle
After you finish that long check-in at the airport, most of us love to go straight for Starbucks to get a coffee while we wait hours for the flight. That’s the first disposable cup tossed into the landfill. Throughout the course of your trip, you’ll no doubt go through 20-30 cups or equally harmful plastic water bottles that could fill up at least a garbage bag. With the simple change of tossing a spill-proof tumbler and/or a reusable, eco-friendly water bottle into your bag, you’re set. This is the #1 most important change that you can make that will keep your trip eco-friendly.
2. Unplug your home
Before you leave your home for a trip, whether it’s a weekend trip or a three-week-long trip, unplug everything in your home. Even if you’re not using something, just having it plugged in seeps energy from the grid. This not only saves electricity but also saves you money.
3. Pack lighter
This may seem insignificant, but packing light has a huge environmental impact. If your bag is lighter (let’s say you pack just one suitcase instead of two) that means the plane will weight 50lbs less, the bus you ride or the car you drive will be just as light, and each one of those changes means the fuel consumption will also be less.
4. Use public transportation or walk
While we may not always want to take the bus/rail, mass transit is by far the greener way to travel on land as it uses a reduced amount of fuel per passenger as compared to a car. Even better, when possible, why not walk? One of the best ways to see any place and experience the local intricacies is by walking around, and it’s great for your health too!
5. Eat local
Whether you’re traveling or not, purchasing local food/products means that nobody had to drive those goods across the country just to get them there. Buying or eating the local produce also encourages local businesses. Let's admit it, food is one of the 'tastiest' ways to get to know a destination. So, get that palate on a hunger hunt!
6. Choose eco-hotels
There are many eco-friendly hotels/hostels popping up all over the world, which make great choices to help offset those emissions you caused by getting to the travel destination. These accommodations make their mark on the environment by ensuring they do the following:
- Responsibly use electricity/heating/cooling
- Reduce the amount of water wasted
- Build establishment in stable locations that are not prone to flooding and doesn’t damage the ecosystem
- Promote environmental practices like beach/forest cleanup activities
7. Shop locally
Don’t buy products from your home country when you’re traveling as it only increases the weight of the luggage. Instead, buy local goods and try something new. Also, make sure to utilize your reusable bag while shopping and try to reduce the use of plastic bags. All those plastic shopping bags just get left in your hotel room to be thrown away after your trip is over.
8. Leave no trace
No matter where you travel, the only thing you should leave behind is footprints. Most eco-travelers take this one step further now, and suggest that each of us should leave the place we visit even better than when we found it. That means picking up a few pieces of trash we see on the beach or in the forest and tossing it in waste containers, so it doesn’t end up sinking into the ground or ocean.
9. Take non-stop flights
The biggest impact of flight isn’t the flying, but rather the takeoff and landing that consumes the most amount of fuel. Of course, nobody likes having layovers, but the next time you think about flying, maybe that extra USD 20 is worth it for Mother Nature. Carbonfootprint.com allows you to calculate the total carbon footprint while taking flights so that you can compare flights with or without layovers.
10. Drink near beer
The term “near beer” is a new growing trend but it isn’t a new concept. What it means is that wherever you are, drink the beer that’s made nearby. Since you’re traveling, why not drink the local beer? Not only are you being greener but you’re also supporting local breweries.