More and more travelers are committing to ethical, responsible tourism. When it comes to organizing a getaway, they don’t just choose a destination and pack their bags. They study their options, get rid of the most polluting ones, and end up choosing others that are respectful of the environment and local culture.
And this is no small matter: tourism is one of the sectors that generate the most carbon dioxide. After years of mass tourism, many places around the world are overused and in poor shape. This reality has set off alarms and led more and more people to adopt sustainable practices.
If you also want to change your habits and reduce the impact of your next getaway, here are a few tips to keep in mind before, during, and after the trip.
The Madeleine Ragsdale (Unsplash)
Once we’ve chosen the mode of transportation, there is still more room to reduce our trip’s CO2 emissions. If you drive, sharing the ride with others and opting for electric or hybrid vehicles is ideal. There are initiatives like the Green Driving Tool that help drivers achieve more efficient driving.
If you fly, it’s best to choose direct flights since the highest fuel consumption happens during takeoff and landing. Other steps that can improve travel efficiency are choosing economy class since less space is allocated to each passenger, and always departing from the airport closest to you.
Checking your trip’s carbon footprint
There are numerous tools that allow us to calculate the carbon footprint of our trips and getaways. Some examples are CeroCO2, Carbon Footprint, MyClimate, and CarbonCero, which offer a final result in kilos or tons of CO2.
Some allow you to offset the greenhouse gases emitted by participating in various projects, another good option to balance out the impact.
Many hotels, hostels, and travel agencies have their own sustainability policies. Spending some time selecting the best options can make a difference.
It is also important to choose the destination carefully – prioritizing those with more advanced environmental policies or where it’s easy to get around by public transit or bicycle – and the time of year we travel. Avoiding the high season can reduce the impact on nature, especially in more crowded places.
Some agencies and accommodations prioritize respecting nature. Taylor Simpson (Unsplash)
Lighten your suitcase
Traveling with little luggage, first of all, lets us add less weight to vehicles, which will reduce fuel consumption and the amount of CO2 emitted. The trick is to forget the “just in case.” Today, it’s easy to find pretty much everything we need anywhere.
It’s also advisable to reduce the number of containers so as to prevent disposing of them at the destination. For example, using bar soap instead of a bottle.
Prior to departure: reducing energy consumption to zero
There is no point in reducing our emissions at our destination if we continue to consume it at home. Before grabbing our bags and heading out, it’s important to make sure everything is off and no devices are on standby.
This practice can continue throughout your vacation. For example, turning off the lights and air conditioning when leaving the hotel.
When traveling, there is nothing more sustainable than behaving like a local, consuming fresh, local products, avoiding franchises, and using public transit. As long as the water is potable, it is best to refill reusable bottles than to buy plastic ones.
Another good tip is to keep up the habits we have at home in hotels. Not washing towels every day, recycling garbage, or ordering more food than necessary, for example.
Consuming local products reduces the carbon footprint. NeONBRAND (Unsplash)
Respecting the environment and the culture at our destination
This is undoubtedly one of the easiest recommendations to follow: simply leave an area as we found it. No garbage, waste, or any sort of disturbance. Of course, it is not recommended to take exotic or endangered plants or animals.
Going with minimalism
Maintaining a low consumption profile throughout a trip reduces the impact on the environment. A good tip is to ask yourself a few questions before consuming or buying: do I really need it? What impact does this product have on the environment? Can I replace it with a more sustainable one?
These little check-ins will, for example, keep us from printing boarding passes instead of checking in online, or getting a bunch of unnecessary souvenirs that can be replaced by local products, such as crafts or food.
Consuming and using only what is necessary is the most environmentally friendly option. Resi Kling (Unsplash)
Sharing sustainable advice
More and more travelers appreciate receiving advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint or recommendations from environmentally-friendly agencies, restaurants, and hotels. So it’s a good idea to take five minutes to make a list of good advice after each trip. Above all, don’t let those habits slip away: with a little effort, it is possible to keep up all these measures taken while on vacation in our day-to-day lives.