As travellers, we’re often of a more free-spirited mindset, but if we’re not careful that can come at a cost to the environment and local communities. So, how can we be more mindful when it comes to our actions and make our impact more positive? Well, the smallest things can make a big difference! Here are some simple ideas!
In The Air
The fact that air travel accounts for the most emissions in the tourism industry today is irrefutable, so what can we do to help combat it? Well, why not consider avoiding air travel all together? For example, we’ve travelled on busses right the way across South East Asia! Of course, exploring what’s on your doorstep can be just as exciting too! Otherwise, you’ll want to always opt for fewer flights. A lot of fuel is used when taxiing and taking off, so flying direct is definitely the way to go whenever possible. Also a big help is flying economy (like we really had a choice right?!) and packing light (less weight means less fuel). In conjunction with all of this, you can choose to pay a little extra for carbon offsetting. The idea is that you can fund conservation programmes - usually tree planting. More trees means less CO2 in the atmosphere as well as the restoration of wildlife habitat!
Once You Arrive
After arriving at the airport, a lot of people’s next step is to hop into a taxi and head to their hotel. Unfortunately, this isn’t the most eco-friendly form of travel and can often contribute to serious problems with traffic and pollution in cities. Where possible, getting a train or bus is definitely a better option, not to mention a cheaper option too! Likewise, once it’s time for some sightseeing, always opt for public transport when you need to get from A to B, unless of course you can walk or get hold of a bicycle! Ride hailing apps like Uber don’t necessarily need to be a total write off either thanks to the likes of Grab offering “GrabShare”.
At Your Accommodation
Being more eco-friendly at your accommodation can be as simple as saving water and electricity. It sounds obvious, but turn off the lights when they don't need them to be on in the day and turn off the air con when you leave your hotel room. Better yet, you can opt for fan rooms at some hostels and save a bit of money whilst you’re at it! You could also check your hotel for accreditation and eco-conscious policies before you even book.
You probably don’t wash your bed sheets and towels EVERY day at home, so why do the same when staying somewhere else? Hang your towels back up when you’re done with them or leave the “do not disturb” sign on your door if the room doesn’t need cleaning. This in turn reduces the amount of harmful wash products being used, which can enter waterways and effect fragile eco-systems. Half-using the provided bars of soap or small tubes isn’t very eco-conscious either! Avoid toiletries with micro beads and look for organic suncream if you plan to swim in the sea!
On Your Dinner Plate
Being more mindful at mealtime can be a great way to be more sustainable… For example, local produce will have a much lower carbon footprint and buying it usually means you can support smaller businesses! Organic produce is especially great as eco-systems and wildlife won’t be harmed as much by the likes of pesticides. The best way to have a more eco-conscious meal plan is to eat at vegan restaurants or by adopting a vegan diet, which has been shown to have as much as half the carbon footprint compared to a meat-eater’s diet! You can quite easily give it a go at home, try some recipes and find some favourite new foods!
Going To Landfill
Research shows that as much as 12 millions tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year - cluttering our coastlines and choking marine life! Specifically, single use plastic poses a massive threat, with certain products and pieces of packaging only being used for a few seconds and then being thrown away, but never actually going away. Everyone can be a little more responsible when it comes to their waste and can take action to limit the amount that we send to landfill. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it! Say no to plastic straws and stirrers, and bring your own reusable carrier bag, coffee cup and water bottle! You might find more and more places offering free or cheap water refills now, just like we have all over South-East Asia!
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