Eco-Friendly Travel Tips: How to be an Earth-Friendly Traveller
Travel is a wonderful way to spend your time; you learn, you grow and you see so much. Unfortunately, travel is also a leading contributor to waste and carries with it a massive carbon footprint. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that aeroplanes alone are estimated to consume 5% of the world’s remaining carbon budget by 2050. So how can you help minimise your impact?
Here are a few tips for seeing and experiencing the world while limiting your waste.
Bring Reusable Products
This is a very simple swap you can make in everyday life, as well as on the go. Bringing reusable products can limit your environmental impact. Here are a few:
- Reusable Bags
One reusable bag can eliminate an estimated 700 plastic bags in its lifetime. Many countries are now making the change to eliminate plastic bags at convenience stores and markets, so bringing your own bag can even save you money. Reusable bags don’t take up much space in your luggage. I recommend keeping one folded up in your day bag, that way you always have it with you should you need it.
- Reusable Mugs and Water Bottles
This is another simple everyday swap that can make a big impact when travelling. Bringing your own water bottle can save an estimated 217 water bottles ending up in a landfill per year. Most convenience stores and shops will fill a water bottle or mug at no extra charge. Personally, I choose to carry both a water bottle and a mug with me; one for my morning coffee and another for my water.
Straws have gained a lot of negative attention in the media recently, and for good reason. Plastic straws are not biodegradable and can last hundreds of years in the ground or the ocean. While straws are not always a necessity, a lot of people love them. If this is your preference, that’s just fine, I only recommend finding one made from a sustainable alternative. There are plenty to choose from; bamboo, steel, paper, pasta, whatever floats your boat. As long as it doesn’t end up floating in the ocean. This can be another really simple and even stylish adjustment that can limit your waste!
- Reusable Toiletry Containers
You can find plenty of stores that offer toiletry kits to use while travelling. These can be a great alternative to buying or bringing travel size shampoo and other toiletry items. This is a great way to save money, as travel-sized products often cost more than larger sizes. Single use items such as these are one of the biggest forms of waste; the packaging for many of these products cannot be recycled and when it is put in a landfill, it will not biodegrade. Many hotel chains are transitioning into removing complimentary shampoos in non-sustainable packaging, so get prepared to be prepared!
Online Booking and Check-In
Many airlines, railways and even public transport offer online tickets and paperless check-in options. This is a no-brainer and it is an effective way to limit unnecessary items finding their way into a landfill. The paper often used has a thin plastic coating on it, meaning it can’t be recycled and if it ends up in a landfill, it cannot biodegrade. Paperless options can save you time, you don’t have to worry about losing your ticket, and you have peace of mind knowing that you’re doing your part for the earth.
Ride Sharing and Public Transport
As a traveller, there is no doubt you know that these options are more affordable, but they also limit carbon emissions. Taking the bus or train is a more environmentally-friendly way to travel. And if you’re looking to travel short distances or to more remote locations, ride sharing is a great option. Walking or renting is bike is always a great and healthy option too! You never know what hidden gems you may find along the way. And there’s always Travltalk to help you find like-minded travellers looking to head to the same destinations.
Daily Housekeeping in Hotels
If you are staying at a hotel, they will often ask if you want new sheets and towels daily. Most often, this will be accompanied by a PSA about the amount of water that is used to wash those items. According to Green Lodging News, a day of room cleaning uses enough kilowatt hours to power a laptop for 10 years, and enough water to give someone two cups of water a day for an entire year. So if you can go without the fresh linens everyday, do it.
Thrifting is something that can be enjoyed at home and during your travels. The fashion industry contributes to a vast amount of waste all over the world. It’s responsible for 4% of the world’s waste each year. By not buying new clothing, you can help stop an endless cycle of waste. If you find you need an item while travelling, see if there is a local thrift shop that will have what you need. They are often cheaper and this helps limit your impact. I think finding surprisingly perfect clothing in a thrift shop is much more fun than buying off the rack anyways.
Thrifting can even be a unique way to experience the culture and trends of another country. You never know what you’ll find! Another great option is to carry a small mending kit with you. Perhaps you can fix an item on your own, thus saving it from a landfill and saving you from spending money.
“Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world.”Forbes – Making Climate Change Fashionable – The Garment Industry Takes on Global Warming
Turning Off Lights, Appliances, and Air Conditioning
Once again, something so simple but so positively impactful. Turning off the lights and air conditioning when you leave your room for the day can eliminate some serious energy consumption.
Making Your Own Travel Products
Creating your own products can be a great creative outlet, while also helping to reduce your impact. It is important to note that this is something you will have to plan and make before a trip; give yourself plenty of time to find a recipe that will work for your needs. The internet is full of DIY tutorials for creating many of your own products. These are a great way to minimise both your footprint on the environment and your bag’s weight limit. There are recipes for creating powder and bar products, which can help when packing a carry-on, so there is no need to worry about the 3oz/100ml rule.
Powders and bars can also be great space savers. They are more compact and there will be very little or none left upon the return trip, meaning more room for souvenirs (sustainable ones, of course!). If making your own product isn’t in your wheelhouse but you still want to capitalise on the benefits, there are a variety of online stores that sell pre-made products. Also, you can check in your local area. Maybe there is a business nearby dedicated to the cause!
This is one that I will admit I struggle with. Limiting your meat consumption can be a great way to limit your environmental impact. This does not mean you have to give up meat completely. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, maybe just find a way to reduce it. When travelling, it’s common to want to try everything, and that is completely normal. Vegan and vegetarian menus are becoming more and more common all over the world. This could be an opportunity to order from a menu that you normally wouldn’t!
Quick Dry Towels
Quick dry towels are an amazing addition to any traveller’s collection for many reasons. They can help save you money. Some hostels or hotels will charge a fee for using towels. Bringing your own will help eliminate that. Quick dry towels will also (you guessed it) dry quickly, so there is no need to throw them into a dryer and use unnecessary energy. They are compact and take up very little space in a backpack or day bag, making them an easy switch.
Organisations and programmes like Travltalk are great ways to not only save money and meet new people, but they are great for creating less waste! By selling your gear or buying used gear, you eliminate that product becoming garbage. By joining a group of like-minded travellers on a shared excursion, you limit the amount of resources being used.
There are so many easy adjustments you can make in your everyday life to help cut down on your impact on the earth. Travel can be the perfect time to adopt new routines and make positive changes for yourself and the planet.
Zero waste is not about one person doing it perfectly, it’s about millions of people doing it imperfectly. If you aren’t ready to go vegan, that’s okay! If you aren’t ready to give up your favourite shampoo in favour of a homemade option, that’s okay! But find a way to offset that impact by choosing these alternatives. Start as small as you need to and go as big as you can. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Are you travelling to multiple countries over the next few months? Looking to share your story and get a little extra pocket money? Apply to become a Travltalk contributor now!