Travel expands our minds and our hearts but also impacts Mother Nature. The global tourism industry is booming… and luckily, mindfulness toward the environment is also on the rise. Individual travelers are opening their eyes, and green operations and sustainable practices are becoming a shared international goal.
Putting Eco-friendly ideas into action might seem more difficult to do while traveling, but there are plenty of easy measures you can take to make a difference.
Congratulations—you’re already on the right track to making a difference. Education and awareness of the impact you’re leaving on the environment while traveling is the first easy measure you can take toward understanding what else you can do to make a difference.
Before You Go
- Prepare and Unplug – Turn off all unnecessary electronics—better yet, unplug them! Save money on your electric bill while also cutting down on energy usage. Did you know that plugged-in electronics can leach power even when they’re turned off? Another great way to accomplish the same goals is to adjust the thermostat. If no one is home, the heating or air conditioning systems don’t need to be on full blast.
- Pack Light – The weight you’re carrying on planes, buses and even cruise ships adds up and effects carbon emissions.
- Plan Shared Transport – Reduce carbon emissions and meet new people!
- Look for Labels – Hotels consume natural resources at a high rate. Labels such as Energy Star, TripAdvisor, GreenLeaders and LEED review, verify and assist with meeting energy efficient and other green requirements.
During Your Trip
- Get the Local Experience – Eating local food and buying from local vendors reduces carbon emissions and enhances your trip by exposing you to the real local culture.
- Avoid Plastic Bags – Plastic bags can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. While you’re shopping locally, use a reusable bag, or skip the bag altogether.
- Bring Your Own – If you’re not traveling on a cruise ship or somewhere where they provide silverware, bring your own! Help reduce plastic waste.
- Cut Out Straws and Bottled Water – Another great way to reduce waste is to avoid single-use plastics such as straws and bottled water. Bring a reusable straw and use refillable water bottles whenever possible.
- Use Water and Electricity Sparingly – On cruises and in hotels: Opt for having your sheets and towels changed less frequently, take shorter showers and turn off the lights and TV when you leave your room.
- Explore Responsibly – Leave no trace. When hiking and exploring, respect protected grounds and endangered plants and animals.
- Ocean Awareness – When snorkeling and swimming, don’t touch or step on coral or other marine life. Only use reef-safe sunscreen. Don’t take living keepsakes from the ocean—conch shells and corals provide homes for marine life.
- Be Wary of Animal Tourism – High quality and ethically operated sanctuaries do exist, but research is a must. In general, avoid supporting unverified facilities that allow activities such as riding elephants, interacting with tigers, etc.
Every Little Bit Counts
Making an effort toward reducing our impact on the environment is something everyone is capable of, and you can easily incorporate these efforts to your lifestyle whether you’re at home, or traveling the world. Enjoy your trip while doing so responsibly!
“Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.” – Unknown