Being environmentally conscious is becoming a bigger part of daily life for many. However, once we begin packing for our vacation, that green attitude often goes out the window in exchange for convenience. Here are some tips for environmentally friendly travel.
1. Ditch “travel size” everything
All those mini shampoos, toothpastes, and sunscreen bottles are easily thrown away and are quickly filling up landfills. You can buy reusable mini bottles (usually in the luggage section of the store) and refill them with what you need. Or, refill the mini shampoo bottles from your last vacation. Reusing something you already have is always better than buying new things (even new reusable bottles). So, get creative and use what you have! For example, old prescription bottles have tight seals and could hold lotion or shampoo just fine.
TIP: If you want to take this a step further, buy bulk ingredients and make your own shampoo, body lotion, sunscreen, etc. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest to try. Making your own cosmetics ensures no microbeads or extra plastic fibers are included and it saves tons of plastic bottles.
2. Eat, drink, and buy local
You’ve already used enough fuel importing yourself, so try to avoid contributing to any further production of carbon emissions. While you’re abroad, make sure to try the local craft beer and wineries, buy groceries at farmer’s markets, and buy souvenirs that are locally sourced. On top of helping the environment, you’ll get a more authentic experience if you immerse yourself in the local lifestyle.
3. Travel Light
When flying, every kilo adds to the carbon emissions that are produced. Think about how much you actually need and just pack the essentials. Challenge yourself to travel with only one carry-on bag! You’ll save the environment and that pesky checked-baggage fee. In addition, pack smart. If you roll up your clothes, you can save a ton of space. Often, two bags of clothing can be better-organized into one bag.
4. Fly as little as possible
Jet fuel is one of the biggest air pollutants out there, so cutting your flight time down would greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Thankfully, it’s usually pretty easy to avoid long flights. Drive a little further to an airport that offers a direct flight to your destination, rather than getting on at your local airport, getting a connection somewhere nearby, and then getting to your final destination. Europe is fairly easy to get from country to country or city to city via public transit, so again, pick a more direct flight and drive or use public transit to your final stop. You’ll see more of the world this way, anyway (and less of airports)!
5. Take public transit
While renting a car or carpooling are better than flying, taking transit is an even better option! Getting around by bus is an excellent and cheap way to explore the city – and it’s more environmentally friendly.
6. Plan your activities consciously
While on vacation, there are certain tourist experiences that are more environmentally conscious than others. For example, skydiving and helicopter tours harm the environment a lot more than hiking, kayaking, or walking tours do. In addition, certain travel agencies, hotels, and tours are more environmentally responsible than others. So, make sure to do your research before booking!
7. Remember your green habits from home
Remembering to turn out your hotel lights, use the same towel a few times before getting a new one, keeping showers short, and use your reusable shopping bags, bottles, and straws. These are often all little things we do at home but forget about while on vacation.
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