"So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ attributed to Mark Twain
So, you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, but how do you now sustainably travel? Here are a few tips to make your trip more environmentally friendly:
1. Bring your reusables and zero-waste toiletries. Pack a reusable water bottle and travel mug to bypass all those single-use plastic bottles and plastic-lined paper cups. Likewise, you’ll be grateful to have solid bars of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion as you zip through airport security without worrying about having too much liquid or leaks in your suitcase. Take a couple of laundry detergent sheets for an emergency wash.
2. Be mindful of your mode of transportation. Air travel is responsible for around 5% of global warming, yet it is the primary mode of transit, especially internationally. So, how does one make a trip greener? One way to minimize your carbon footprint is to fly economy. “A first-class ticket on a long-haul flight emits, on average, four times as much as an economy seat.”
Further, embrace slow travel. Per a study by the BBC, one can further reduce your CO2 emissions between 50% and 80% by taking a train, bus, or even a full passenger car instead of air travel. Spend a few days in one location where you can explore by walking, biking, and taking mass transit. Instead of driving a rental car which can be expensive and stressful, take a bus, train, or ride-hailing service like Uber to reach your destination. Because slow travel may not always be practical, one can compensate for the emissions from your flight and other transit by buying a carbon offset.
3. Bring Your Daily Zero-Waste Habits with You. We all adopt a vacation mindset when traveling, where we kick back and relax. We forget our good habits from home and tend to waste energy, water, and food. Let’s don’t do that anymore! Ask yourself, “Do I need a second shower?” Turn off the lights when you leave your hotel room. A great tip is to leave the “Do Not Disturb” hanger on your door if you don’t want the cleaners to launder your bed sheets and towels daily.
Creating good zero-waste habits is like developing a muscle, for it takes practice. From transportation to what to pack, prepare before you leave by researching your options. One has to adopt a different mindset to slow travel since one has to plan well to travel according to bus and train schedules. Organize your reusable flatware, handkerchief, and bottle to be easily accessible. Your reusables don’t help you when they are at the bottom of your backpack or bag. Refuse plastic flatware and straws when ordering. Learn to say “No,” before the server hands you single-use plastic. Health code rules say restaurants can’t take single-use items back out for fear of contamination. If they take the plasticware back, they must throw it away. The easiest way to avoid disposable plates, cups, or flatware is to eat at sit-down restaurants.
Before buying, carefully think, “Do I really need it?” Consumption has become an economic generator, and tourist hot spots have become overly commercialized centers with the sole purpose of tempting one to buy cheap souvenirs. Remember, experiences, not things make the best memories.
Happy Sustainable Travels!