Excited for your next vacation? We’re sure you are; after all, travelling is the best remedy for city blues and mental exhaustion. The beach, the mountains, the buzzing tourist city… no matter where you plan to go, keep your itinerary ready for a great vacation. But also, do not forget that travelling comes with some responsibilities too. Yes, you read it right! As a savvy traveller, you have an obligation to protect the environment as well while still enjoying your trip.
Wondering why you would harm the very place you are exploring? Well, the sad part is you might not even be aware that you are unintentionally generating harmful waste and misusing scarce resources, whilst hurting Mother Nature. Scary, isn’t it? But fret not, as we have carefully compiled a list of some tips on how you can be environmentally conscious and become a responsible traveller, saving yourself from leaving a large environmental footprint wherever you go.
Here’s what you can do to become an eco-friendly ‘green’ traveller:
1. Carry Reusables
Plastic is the nemesis of Mother Nature – we’re sure you must have heard stories about how the marine life is in extremis due to the plastic filling up the oceans. Thus, it is only sensible to quit single-use plastics including containers, straws, bags, cutlery, water bottles, tubes and other items that are non-biodegradable and immensely hazardous for the environment. To ensure a plastic-free environment wherever you go, carry a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing a disposable one every few hours. Consider bringing your own toiletries, metal straws, reusable shopping bags, and more to reduce plastic waste.
2. Prevent Food Wastage
According to reports by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, food wastage has a severe impact on climate, land and biodiversity. And you will be stunned to know that every year, tons of food gets wasted throughout the globe as a consequence of tourism. You, as a traveller, can take small steps to bring a big change in this ‘food wastage’ epidemic. Opt out of buffets and order only the amount of food that you are sure to finish. It is also a good idea to pack your own food, especially if you have kids or elders along.
3. Pack Lighter
Surprised how over-packing can have an ill-effect on the environment? Well, it is true – the weight of your luggage does make a difference, especially if you’re travelling by air. The carbon dioxide emissions from the aircrafts can take a huge toll on the environment by degrading the quality of air. Reports suggest that excess weight on a plane means it burns more fuel, leading to greater carbon emissions. Therefore, when flying, you must make sure that you are carrying only the bare minimum luggage (as prescribed by the airlines’ baggage policy). So, always try to pack only the ‘most required’ articles and dump the rest.
4. Save Paper
It’s not an unknown fact that billions of tress worldwide are being chopped down each year for paper, which leads to deforestation, erosion of soil and floods. And paper is still used throughout the globe for sanitation, packaging, communication, documentation, and so on. As an eco-friendly traveller, you can do your bit in saving paper by arranging soft copies of tickets and other essential documents you would need while travelling. Also, why to invest in a paperback when you can read on your iPad or a digital tablet like Kindle. Similarly, if you’re someone who journals their travels, do it on your phone or tablet to help save paper.
5. Reduce Energy Use
The power plants that produce electricity generate an enormous amount of harmful emissions that pollute the air, and in the long run affect the climate. Hence, limiting energy use is absolutely necessary for protecting the environment. So, make it a point to turn off the lights, AC and TV when you leave your hotel rooms (even if you aren’t paying for it!). If you don’t want your room to be vacuumed, leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door before leaving. Another smart way of reducing electricity consumption while travelling is to opt for a bigger room or cottage instead of multiple small rooms for accommodating your family.
6. Conserve Water
The water resources around the globe are already overwhelmed by the over-use and wastage. Hence, it is essential for you to know how to save water while travelling. The easiest thing to do is choosing shower over bath, as it uses almost double the amount of water. Also, take shorter showers and turn off the taps while you shampoo, shave, lather up or brush your teeth. Hang your hotel towels instead of leaving them on the bathroom floor so that they can be reused (isn’t that what you do at home too?). Try and wash your clothes by yourself, if needed, instead of giving them for hotel laundry as it uses up more water than you think.
7. Use Public Transport
Ever wondered what’s the point of visiting the hills, if the air quality is just as bad there? None, right? The primary reason why air quality is declining at an alarming rate, even in mountainous areas, is the increased number of tourist vehicles. For limiting fuel consumption and carbon emissions, you must take public transport when possible. And even if you have to rent a car, go for a smaller model to reduce the impact on the environment. If it is possible to explore the destination on a bicycle or on foot, nothing could be better.
8. Never Litter
Littering is a disgraceful act that not only ruins the beauty of a landscape but also leads to improper waste management and an unhealthy environment. So, try not to litter (not even once, not even a cigarette’s butt). Always follow a leave-no-trace regimen, i.e. wherever you go whether it be a camp, park, beach or any other place, make sure anything you carry in, you carry out too. Don’t forget to throw the trash in dustbins, according to what can or cannot be recycled. It is also a good idea to carry a small bag with you to round up the trash.
9. Follow Rules
Rules are not meant to be broken (or bent), especially while travelling as every tourist destination applies certain regulations to ensure the complete safety of the travellers as well as the environment. For instance, when going on a trekking or hiking trip, always stay on trails – do not wander off to take a selfie as it can be dangerous. While exploring a wildlife hotspot, don’t hamper the plant life or feed animals, and don’t click pictures with flash. Always follow all the instructions when indulging in an adventure activity. Breaking rules may not only lead to a hefty fine or severe punishment but also cause harm to yourself or the nature.
10. Go for Eco-Friendly Options
Over the last few years, many hotels and other accommodation options have propped up across the world that are making a conscious effort to preserve the resources and protect the environment. Pick eco-hotels that have sustainability initiatives like rainwater harvesting, solar power, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, etc. Also, choose tour companies that help you follow the best environmental practices throughout the trip and do not have a negative impact on the environment. You can also pick from tourist destinations that are trying to preserve their local ecosystems and promote sustainable tourism.
You’d be surprised to know how these little changes can have a substantial impact on the big picture and allow you to have a sustainable, healthy and environment-friendly travelling experience.