As we approach a life where travel is authorized recreationally, it is important to keep in mind how we can be eco-conscious travelers. Let's grapple on that term - sustainable travel. What is it and what are some tips to transition into a sustainable traveller?
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable travel, also known as green travel, is the effort of maintaining long-term travelling while minimizing the negative impacts of tourism. A sustainable traveller finds a balance in enjoying the beauty of the planet and aims to respect and preserve the environment in which communities and ecosystems live in socio-economically and environmentally.
Tips for sustainable travel
Don’t know where to begin? No worries! We have listed several easy tips to travel more sustainably in the coming future. Keep your head up high because you may already be implementing many of these tips.
- Bring a reusable water bottle: Whether you are hiking a tall mountain or walking the streets of a new city, a reusable water bottle is a great investment compared to buying a case of plastic water bottles each trip. Not only do they remind you to drink more water, but they use less fossil fuels, emit fewer greenhouse gases, and protect the lives of thousands of marine animals. Why contribute to the insurmountable landfill of single-use plastic bottles?
- Pack zero waste items: Pack reusable bags (e.g., totes and produce), reusable straws, and containers as a traveller. These are helpful when running errands, on-the-go activities, and everyday curriculars while travelling. Plus, you won’t have to worry about where to throw your garbage out!
- Invest in a multi-purpose plug: These plugs are a great investment to make, especially when travelling to various parts of the world, as they are accustomed to almost all devices. Rather than owning multiple chargers and plugs, multi-purpose plugs save money, time, plastic, and e-waste.
- Pack light! One of the most sustainable tips for travelling is to pack light, particularly resorting to only a carry-on luggage. The biggest advantage is that less weight from luggage results in less fuel consumption. Moreover, carry-ons are cheaper, quick, and easier to transport compared to handling multiple luggage bags.
- Support eco flights: There’s no doubt that airplanes produce a significant amount of CO2; however, some airplanes burn less than others. In Canada, greener flight options include: Air Transat and Flair who are seeking sustainable growth by decreasing per passenger emissions and reducing noise pollution.
- Research green hotels: One of the biggest environmental culprits of tourism are hotel accommodations, including but not limited to ongoing air conditioning, food waste, laundered towels, and half-used toiletries. Instead, research green hotels in the destination you’re visiting. Here’s a list of the top green hotels found across the world!
- Stay on designated trails: Although venturing into off-trails seems enticing, it’s important to respect the measures of public areas. Designated trails are encouraged not only for the safety of its visitors, but for the preservation of wildlife and its ecosystems.
- Resort to showers, not baths: Along with purchasing a reusable water bottle, another option to reduce your water footprint is to prioritize showers over baths (as long as your showers are not too long). Studies show that the average bath consumes 25-35 gallons of water (nearly 95-133 litres); whereas a regular showerhead spills 2.5 gpm (9.5 litres per minute). In other words, a 10 minute shower is needed to equate a standard bath. Moreover, research or ask your accommodation if they have integrated water-saving shower heads, such as a showerhead with a WaterSense label. If they have, you know that they are ahead of their game. If they have not, educate to supply them.
- Stay and explore locally: One of the biggest recommendations throughout the pandemic, when the stay-at-home order was not yet enforced, was to explore locally. This includes walking to unexplored corners of the city or supporting local businesses. While many have been craving a longer adventure to the outskirts of the city, nearby landmarks are often times the hidden gems. Research places to explore in your area because there is always something new to discover!
- Take public transport when possible: Choosing public transport when travelling adds significance to your journey as it allows you to explore places and interact with locals you would not see or meet otherwise. Most importantly, by preventing less traffic congestion, consuming less energy and emitting fewer harmful greenhouse gas emissions than a private vehicle, you can save up to 30% of CO2 emissions. Part of the fun when venturing to a nice place is experiencing how locals live!
- Use a ride-share app: If public transport is not your cup of tea, opt for safe and reputable rideshare applications, such as Uber Pool. Not only will this save you money, but it lessens your carbon footprint compared to a private vehicle. Similarly, this is a great method to meet locals and share an experience while you’re travelling.
- Try e-bikes or scooters: If you have never ridden an e-bike or scooter, I highly recommend it! It is an amusing mode of transportation that takes you to your destination quickly while incorporating an exercise. Spice up your journey with the breeze flowing through your fingertips!
- Adjust the thermostat: Why have a heater or air conditioning running when no one is home? Turn the thermostat up during the summer and turn it down during the winter when you’re out exploring.
- Unplug non-essential devices: Before leaving to catch a plane or hop on a bus, remember to unplug devices that are otherwise unused while you are away. Some examples include lights, chargers, small kitchen appliances, desktop computers, heaters, air conditioners, and other small electronic accessories. Do not waste more energy (and increase electric bills) when you can simply turn them off.
- Avoid printing a boarding pass: Any bits of saved paper can help. Having an electronic copy of your boarding pass not only saves paper but is also less likely to be lost or forgotten. Choose electronic tickets to prevent paper waste. Simply download or screenshot your boarding passes as nearly all major airlines scan mobile electronic tickets.
- Do not litter: This is not only subject to travelling, but wherever we are. It is crucial to be mindful of our consumption and disposal. Ideally, it is better to refuse and reuse our waste, rather than relying on recycling. However, if you do accumulate waste on a trip, kindly dispose of it in its proper stream.
We know there are a bucket list of opportunities to minimize our environmental impact when travelling, but this is a sample of 18 options you can try to shift to a sustainable traveller in the coming future. We hope this blog reminds you to take advantage of all the wonderful things this planet can offer while travelling, but more importantly, to stay mindful of the places you visit not only for yourself but for future travelers.