Sustainability in travel …
Sustainability in travel is extremely important, the travel industry accounts for more than 8% of all greenhouse gasses, and experts believe that by the year 2050 air travel will take up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget! While the vast majority of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are the responsibility of massive corporations, there are still a few switches we as a consumer can do in order to help support the cause. I have been wanting to make this post for a while now, but was re-inspired by the wildfires currently tearing through California and Oregon. While the causes of those fires may vary, they were fueled by the drier than normal conditions caused by climate change. I do not believe this is the fault of the individual rather than our nation as a whole not holding our businesses and corporations to a higher standard for sustainability.
For more information on the fires and to see how you can help click here.
Today’s post is in support of the brave men and women fighting fires across the western United States, all ad revenue generated from this post (for the remainder of the month) will be donated to relief efforts in California and Oregon.
Without further ado here are a few switches and little things you can do as a traveler to offset climate change and be a little more environmentally friendly! Plus many are cost-friendly too so that is a huge bonus!
If you are still buying single-use bottled water where have you been?? This switch has been pushed for YEARS and it still makes so much sense, from an ecological and a cost standpoint. While I understand there are certain parts of the world where safe drinking water is scarce and you should only drink bottled water, virtually the ENTIRE US has safe drinking water. You also don’t need to go out and spend tons of money for a quality water bottle, this one I got from Target for $20. It keeps my water cold for hours, ice will stay frozen for over 18 hours, its durable, has a drinking straw, and lid to keep the mouthpiece covered when not in use, AND it’s dishwasher safe. Link to purchase here.
Reusable silicone bottles for shampoo/conditioner etc
If you’re traveling by plane and aren’t checking a bag then you are only allowed liquid containers under 3.4 oz. While those tiny travel sized shampoos and soaps are oh so adorable, they are not as cute when you think about them in a landfill or cluttering up our oceans. 🙁
Instead, you can use reusable silicone bottles to take your soaps with you, bonus you can take your favorite brands/what you normally would use instead of just what is available in the travel section. You can click here to buy a set of four ($19.99) that also comes with a TSA approved clear plastic bag that is required to fly.
You could also use plastic reusable bottles for your toiletries, however it is important to note that while reusable, plastic is less durable than silicone and harsher on the environment when recycled.
Pack lighter on flights
While we will always advise on other means of travel, sometimes flying is unavoidable. One way you can cut down on your carbon contribution is to pack lighter! The less you pack=the lighter the flight=the less fuel the plane needs to go. While it might not seem like much, if everyone started packing lighter it would make a significant difference! Not to mention your wallet will be happier downgrading from a checked bag to a carry-on.
Offset your EMISSIONS
Again, while driving or taking the train is usually more sustainable, sometimes there is no avoiding using a plane. So when you do need to fly try to offset your emissions by donating to an organization that supports reducing the planet’s overall carbon footprint. Click here to learn more about what carbon offsetting is and different ways you can contribute, often for as low as $5-$20/flight.
Public transit vs taxi/uber
Instead of getting a taxi or Uber for one, try using public transit such as a bus or train to get around. This might not work in every city, especially smaller ones, but if you’re going to be traveling a lot it is always best to check. Even try walking a couple blocks instead of catching an uber every time you need to go somewhere. If you do need to drive or use an Uber try carpooling/using Uber Pool to cut down on the many trips the driver would have to take.
Visit sustainable locations (eco resorts etc)
Before COVID hit, eco-travel was gaining in popularity, including the ever luxurious eco-resorts. In a loose definition by PlumDeluxe an eco-resort is a “lodging facility that takes steps to reduce its carbon footprint while giving back to its local community.” These resorts vary with their specific missions/what they do to be more eco friendly, but most are advocates of reducing/offsetting carbon emissions and “leave no trace.” This can look like limiting the number of guests they can support at one time or for certain activities, such as rainforest adventures or snorkeling in the reef. As well as doing their part to reduce single-use waste on the resort, and investing in eco-friendly organizations.
The archipelago of Palau is considered one of, if not the, most environmentally forward places to visit. All visitors must pay a $100 (USD) Palau Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee included with their airline ticket and are required to sign the Palau Pledge before being allowed entry, according to the Palau website “This compulsory promise is made directly to the children of Palau, to preserve this country, their home.” The pledge will be stamped into your passport and a signature is required, they are the first country to enact an immigration policy based in conservation.
Scandinavia, Costa Rica, and Slovenia are considered three of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. Perhaps consider marking them down for your next (post-COVID) trip!
Switch out your sunscreen
Sunscreen is so incredibly important in protecting yourself from various skin diseases and cancers, but unfortunately, many of the chemicals in sunscreen are extremely harmful to our ocean life. So much so that many sunscreens are banned from countries and states on the ocean, such as Hawaii. It was found that phenoxyethanol, oxybenzone, and octinoxate are the main culprits, however parabens such as the commonly used methylparaben and butylparaben are inactive ingredients that can be harmful as well. So if you plan on being in the water, consider switching to an eco-friendly version, I’ve linked a few below, and be sure to check your existing sunscreens for the toxins listed above!
Eco tooth care!
Did you know it is estimated that one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year in the US alone?? That is an incredible number! Since recycling plastic toothbrushes is incredibly difficult, most end up in the trash and taking up space in our landfills. The same goes for plastic tubes of toothpaste, Listerine bottles, and dental floss! Luckily the switch to recyclable bamboo products and reusable/recyclable glass and metal containers is super easy and almost as cost-efficient. I found a wonderful article by the Eco-girl shop listing a wide variety of sustainable oral hygiene products to help give you an idea of alternate products to look for. (they even have travel size!)
Remember Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are in order of importance
This is one of the most important tips on this list! Reduce, reuse, recycle; you’ve probably heard this a million times since the saying gained popularity in the early ’00s. What many forget, or don’t know, is that they are listed in the order of importance, making recycling a last resort NOT the “go-to” for sustainability. You can always look around your house and find ways to reduce the amount of plastic or single-use products you buy, and then try to creative ways to reuse the products you already have.
This goes for you, your clothes, everything! Now I know that might sound crazy, especially in a COVID world, but as American’s we waste an incredible amount of water!! Not only do we waste clean water, we often contribute to the large amounts of chemicals that end up in runoff water, with all our cleaners and perfumes and dyes.
A few ways to limit washing while traveling is to reuse your bedsheets/towels. If you’re staying in a hotel for a week there is no reason to get clean sheets or towels every single day, simply let the front desk know you’d prefer to forgo laundry services with your housekeeping each day. Many places will have a sign in the bathroom as well letting you know where to place your towels if you choose to not have them washed.
Another is to limit your showers, I know the unlimited hot water of a hotel shower is enticing but it’s quite wasteful and unnecessary. Take quick showers just as you would (or should) at home and skip it if you haven’t been in public or doing something to get dirty, such as hiking etc.
Lastly, you can opt to wash your laundry the old fashion way using a tub, hot water, soap, and a little bit of elbow grease! Trust me, I’ve done many loads of laundry in a hotel bathtub and while it’s not exactly fun, it saves me the money and saves our environment.
Put money into communities not corporations
Many people travel in order to visit new places, experience new cultures, or meet new people, but fall short when deciding to stay at the Hilton instead of a local bed and breakfast. While it is fine to prefer the safety and luxury of larger hotel chains, sustainably it is important to put your money into the communities you’re visiting! This can mean staying in locally-owned accommodations, using public transit, eating at local places/shopping in local markets, and doing research on the area beforehand to ensure you’re putting as much of your hard-earned “travel money” directly in the pockets of those that need it.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the largest contributors to climate change are not the individual but rather the big companies running factories with little interest in how it impacts the environment. The best thing we can do as a consumer is to put our money where our mouth is. That means investing in sustainable brands and products and ditching single-use.
Also to simply expect better, communicate with brands where they can be more sustainably focused. Do they use a ton of plastic in their packaging? Write an email or better yet call them out on social media. Get your friends and family involved. The power is in the hands of the people, not the other way around like they like to think. We decide what products are popular and what standards are acceptable. We have created a world where big brands think it is okay to be wasteful or ignore their environmental impact. No more!! Use your voice to speak out and I promise change will come.
Below I have listed a few links that can help you on your journey to be more sustainably focused as well as call out companies for ignoring the ecological impacts. Again today’s post is in support of those fighting fires across the west coast, and all ad revenue generated will be donated to relief efforts in California and Oregon. So please share this with your friends and on social media, and click here for more information on ways you can help/donate directly.
- A Citizen’s Call for a Global Sustainable Economy-Change.org
- List of various environment focused petitions-the petition site
- Petition to declare global warming a state of emergency-tree of life works
- Beginners guide to zero waste-going zero waste blog
- 40 Green Travel Tips- Green global travel
- How to be a more sustainable traveler- NYT
Until the next adventure,
Stay tuned for Friday when we launch a very exciting new series to the blog! Potentially moving onto a new platform?? Be sure to subscribe so you never miss out!
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