Sustainable living isn’t just a trend worth the hype – it’s a social responsibility. We only have one planet, and we should work together to protect it. We need to roll up our sleeves and engage in movements that aim to eliminate the impact on the planet, conserve resources, protect wildlife, and support the local economies.
Even the smallest steps make a difference – like opting for a more sustainable way to travel.
From simple acts of saying no to plastic to choosing green hotels and transportation, here are 10 ways to have a more eco-friendly trip without overhauling your trip.
1. Travel with less carbon footprint
Instead of taking the plane all the time, which is responsible for huge carbon emissions, embrace the fun of “slow travel.”
One better way is train travel. It’s not only a great way to experience a deeper sense of the place – but you’ll also decrease your carbon footprint. Some favorite train travel destinations include Southeast Asia, China, India, and East Africa.
Traveling via bus or ship also has a less negative environmental impact than plane travel. For short-distance trips, ride a bike or take a walk.
If plane travel is inevitable, book non-stop flights whenever you can. These flights have reduced takeoffs and landings that make most of an aircraft’s carbon emissions.
2. Reduce plastic waste
Plastic takes 500 years to decompose. What’s more alarming is we sell about one million plastic bottles every minute.
You can reduce plastic ways in our own little ways. Opt for recyclable glass bottles. Take your own reusable tote bags when you go shopping. Drink using paper cups or bring your own tumbler. Hop on the bamboo straw bandwagon. If you buy products in plastic containers, be responsible enough to dispose of them properly.
Before the birth of plastic over 100 years ago, humans were doing just fine. Our ancestors have survived without depending on this material that’s undoubtedly bad for our planet, especially to the marine ecosystems. We can do the same today.
3. Never take or buy wildlife products
It’s tempting to pick beautiful seashells from your beach getaway but try to resist. While empty shells are probably left behind by mollusks that have died, they’re often reused by animals like hermit crabs for their new home.
Don’t buy shell as souvenirs. Chances are that your huge gleaming shell wasn’t taken from the shore but is taken from a living animal before selling it into the shell trade. Aside from shells, avoid products made from genuine fur, skin, feathers, and other body parts of wild animals.
4. Support local
Buy locally-made, preferably handmade products. Crafts and souvenirs made by local artisans aren’t always cheaper but choosing them over imported goods supports authentic cultural heritage and even provides jobs for locals who craft them.
It’s not just about the price – purchasing local goods ensures your contribution to the local economy.
In addition, find out if the hotel’s resources, including their food, materials, décor, and even their staff, are local. Companies that utilize local resources tend to be more sustainable since they’re helping the local economy.
5. Book an eco-conscious hotel
Ask about the hotel’s sustainability initiatives. It’s a big plus if the hotel has seals of approval from certification programs that rate their sustainability initiatives. Some efforts include energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, sustainable material selection, and recycling programs. I have stayed in one hotel that utilizes energy-saving card holders.
One example is the Holiday Inn, a green hotel that practices sustainable tourism, from going straw-less to updating their lighting. They also encourage their guests to conserve energy and water and reduce waste. They have recently introduced a “green doorknob hanger” to bypass housekeeping.
6. Reuse your towels
Hang towels you’ll reuse. Leave the used ones on the floor, for they will be replaced. This is a universal etiquette for reusing towels.
Laundry is responsible for 16 percent of the hotel’s water usage and energy usage. It also accounts for heavy usage of chemical cleansing agents. Encouraging you to reuse isn’t just a trick made up by the company to save money – it’s a simple move that makes a huge difference for the environment.
7. Limit energy and water use whenever you can
Change starts with you. Turn off all lights, AC units, and television when you leave your room. Toilets and showers also account for most of the water usage. Even simple initiatives like taking shorter showers and turning off the tap help.
Hang a “do not disturb” sign for the duration of your stay too. This is one way to forgo housekeeping, which translates to cutting down chemical cleansing agents, washing of bed linens and towels, and electricity used for vacuuming.
8. Say no to activities/products that don’t care about nature
Never buy souvenir photos or go to places that exploit wildlife, like zoos, circuses, and attractions disguised as “sanctuaries” or “rescue centers.” Never sign up for tours that promise hands-on encounters with wild animals, like riding captured wild elephants or cuddling and posing with drugged tigers.
If you do, you’re perpetuating an industry that illegally imprisons, transports, and abuses millions of animals for profit.
9. And support brands who care
Patronize food brands that go straw-less and plastic-free. Support brands that action on plastic pollution by recycling and upscaling plastic into clothes, shoes, and other products. Purchase crafts made from recycled and sustainable materials. Sign up for tours that truly protect and support cultural heritage and wildlife. Go for accommodation with environmentally friendly practices.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for the Holiday Inn Parramatta Hotel, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional hotel accommodation and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.