What is eco-friendly traveling, anyway? I am sure you crossed through this topic already since green traveling is getting more and more popular. Green travel or sustainable travel is all about creating positive effect on the environment, while you travel.
You can’t help leaving a charcoal smudge in your wake, no matter what. I am trying my best, but I am not perfect either. It’s hard to avoid planes nowadays, which spew enormous amounts of carbon emissions. Same with hotels, which use guzzle gallons of water to launder sheets and towels. In this article I will explain how to be more eco-friendly while traveling and lift the remorse and lighten the blemish on Mother Earth.
I believe, we can all keep trying and care about our planet as much as possible. Thinking that small changes you make will not change anything is completely wrong! If everyone would think like that, indeed nothing would change, but power of individual actions is insane and inspiring! Brick by brick we can build more sustainable environment.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”
I love traveling and don’t want to refuse using planes, because that would make me see much less places. However, I can do my best in trying to go by land whenever possible because this way creates less carbon emission. I love to take long, hot showers from time to time or enjoy the bath and don’t want to resign from that either. So should I feel guilty by creating such a bad impact on nature? No. Unless you are an extremist. This is our choice to what extend we take an action without feeling that we are sacrificing our comfort of travel. The point is to take it slowly, step by step. But let me tell you my story.
Few years ago, I wasn’t aware of eco-friendly traveling and human impact on the environment. When I traveled to so-called third world countries, on one hand contact with breath-taking nature, on the other rubish, pollution, population just destroying the Earth. The more I traveled, more I was alarmed about this situation and started to care about nature. Somehow, after all the trips I have made, nature feels closer, more important. I look at it with a new point of view, like my home, so I try to respect it. Being part of it, I am global citizen who carries the precious document called passport, to visit other habitants of our common planet.
I started to explore the world more consciously, slowed down my trip and cared what I eat and where. Later, little by little came changes of my habits: buying more eco-friendly and fare trade products, eating more healthy, choosing the transportation wisely. Step by step I was adding more changes to my lifestyle, becoming more eco-friendly. My point is, that if you want modify your habits as well you shouldn’t make too many commitments at the beginning. That way it doesn’t feel like you are making some sacrifice to become “green”.
First steps in eco-friendly traveling
OK. So you decided to be more eco-friendly. Where to start? It can be difficult to take an action, especially when it comes to planing your next holiday. Reading the following steps think how much can you commit without feeling disturbed. Don’t worry, if you are not able to follow them all at the same time, with the next trip you may add more and continue improving your travel routine. Taking the first step is important. Once you have started, everything will get a lot easier.
1. Choose the right transportation
Flying produces a large portion of carbon footprint. One long flight can produce as much harmful gases as your car in one year! First of all, while planning your trip you should consider other options of transportation like buses, trains or ferries, since they are more eco-friendly. Sharing a ride is also a great option and in the same time you can save up some money. What about my favorite “sport” – hitch hiking? See how many drivers are alone in the car. Imagine how much less traffic on the road if we start to join the trip with another person. Apps already exist, it’s just a matter of using them.
I always admire travelers who can go across the globe walking or cycling. Huge bow in your side! I love walking and cycling and try to do it anywhere possible, while I travel, skipping public transportation. In fact, a budget traveling is more eco-friendly, so why not?
Important! If you cannot take other option than flying, try booking non-stop flights whenever you can. It’s takeoffs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.
2. Choose the right accomodation
Planning your place to stay, think eco: maybe you can just do camping and sleep under the stars? Otherwise, why not, again, sharing the accommodation with locals via couch surfing or other sites/communities, which support eco-friendly traveling more than hotels and will allow you to sleep for free when you travel?
OK, fine, no pressure, you may not like this kind of traveling. Booking a hotel or hostel can also be “green” if you choose those who care about carbon emission. Eco-friendly hotels, lodges or home stays getting more and more popular. You may check them out on certification programs such as Green Key, which lists accredited and approved hotels. You will be impressed how much some of them are involved by effective waste treatment systems, recycling, friendly energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric power. Being a responsible guest is a separate big topic, which I will develop in another article.
3. Choose the right activities
Immerse yourself in the great outdoors for a nature-filled and carbon-reducing holiday. You can sail, snorkel, scuba dive, hike, paddleboat, kayak, bike, swim, bird-watch, meditate under the tree or do your favorite sports. Options are infinite!
Choosing more demanding outdoor activities try to find a local guide or “green” institution which is environment friendly. I remember my dilemma while going to Indonesia for a jungle trekking. Choosing the right agency was a bunch of research, but it was absolutely worth it! I found one thinking in perspective about jungle conservation and inspires the other agencies in doing so.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only think that ever has.”
Mother Earth is our home, and we have a right to see it. There is so much out there that stands out on this planet as astounding, so much to explore! Eco-friendly traveling is the way we can all contribute and show nature how grateful we are. I encourage you to travel consciously and responsible, instead of carbon emission leaving just your footprints.