We all love to travel and go on vacations, and why not! It’s probably the best way to fade mental exhaustion. No matter where we head to, a few days off from routine surely rejuvenate. But do you know that travelling often also causes environmental pollution? Of course! Whether we travel via flight or road or train – we somehow contribute in degrading the environment. Toxic emissions from fuel, using plastics, disturbing the natural habitat of wild plants and animals by trespassing, etc. in major ways lead to environmental pollution. As a responsible traveller, we should take measures to protect the environment while enjoying your trip.
So, on 5th June 2020, let’s pledge to become an eco-friendly ‘green’ traveller, and ensure to not leave an environmental footprint.
- Avoid Plastic & Carry Reusables: Plastic is the enemy of Mother Nature – we’re sure you must have read about how the marine life is in danger due to the plastic waste filling up the oceans. Thus, it is extremely essential to quit the use of single-use plastics including water bottles, cutlery, bags and other non-biodegradable items. To avoid hazarding the environment, carry a refillable water bottle instead of buying a disposable one every few hours. Consider carrying your own toiletries, reusable shopping bags, etc. to reduce plastic waste.
- Avoid Food Wastage: According to reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food wastage has a severe impact on climate, land, water 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.
- Pack Lighter: Surprised how over-packing can have an ill-effect on environment? Well, it is true – the weight of your luggage does make a difference, especially if you’re travelling by air. The carbon emissions from the aircraft can take a huge toll on the environment. 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 ‘most required’ things and dump the rest.
- Save Paper: It’s not an unknown fact that billions of trees worldwide are being cut down each year for paper, which leads to deforestation, soil erosion and floods. And paper is still used throughout the globe for packaging, communication, documentation, and so on. As an eco-friendly traveller, you can do your bit in saving paper by carrying a soft copy of your tickets and other essential documents that 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.
- 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.
- 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 bath over shower, as it uses almost double the amount of water. Also, take shorter baths and turn off the taps while you shampoo, shave, lather up or brush your teeth. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 nature.
- 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.
Endorsed by the United Nations, World Environment Day (WED) is the most renowned event for positive environmental action. Taking place on June 5, the theme for this annual event in the year 2020 is Biodiversity. Every year, around a million animal and plant species risk extinction, mainly due to human activities like littering, carbon emissions and deforestation. Recent devastations including 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires are not only destroying the habitat of these noble species, but are also degrading the environment for human existence. It is time we learn to live in harmony with Nature and learn to work towards sustainable economic growth. So this World Environment Day, let’s ensure to follow the above points so as to save our Mother Nature.