ECO-FRIENDLY WAYS TO TRAVEL
The future of the planet is a subject on everyone’s lips. With stark warnings published on what seems like a daily basis and growing awareness of the impact of our modern lifestyles, many of us are taking steps to go green. If you’re a globetrotter or a willing victim of wanderlust, and you’re searching for ways to do your bit, considering eco-friendly ways to travel is surely a high priority?
The world is more accessible than ever before, and more and more of us are catching the travel bug. The more countries and places you visit, the more you want to see. While travel offers a wealth of benefits, there are potential drawbacks.
Even if globetrotting isn’t your thing, a large percentage of us still clock up a lot of miles travelling on a regular basis: to work, shopping; visiting friends; days out and UK-based holidays are just a few examples.
One of the most significant obstacles for conscious travellers is the impact on the environment. Thankfully, there are ways to get around and embrace greener living at the same time. Sometimes, we just need to plan ahead a bit more and give a bit more consideration to the eco-travel options available.
A starting point for many is car usage. When you next change your car, is an electric or hybrid vehicle a viable option for you? There is a huge range on the market nowadays from small city cars to luxury executive vehicles. And as well as a reduced environmental impact, a recent survey of UK owners found that electic and hybrid models beat petrol and diesel rivals on reliability!
So, whether you are globetrotting or not, if you care about your environmental impact here are some eco-travel options to consider.
More and more of us rely on cars to get around, and more flights are operating than ever before. If you do have to fly, try and keep your carbon footprint to a minimum by booking seats in economy class and avoiding long journeys unless they are absolutely necessary. If you fly on a regular basis, for example, to attend meetings or conferences, there are ways you can offset your carbon dioxide emissions. If you don’t have to fly, it’s beneficial to consider taking advantage of public transport. This applies to getting around at home, as well as travelling from A to B when you’re away on holiday. Sharing transfers, taking trains, trams and local buses, and investigating coach hire is better than whizzing around in your own car.
If you do want to hire a car, for example, you’re planning a road trip in the US, or you’re driving around the South Island in New Zealand, consider renting an eco-friendly vehicle like a hybrid.
Eco-friendly travel companies
Ecotourism is booming, and a growing number of agencies are offering trips that celebrate and promote sustainable tourism. If you’re keen to see the world, but you want to ensure you do everything to protect the planet at the same time, look for eco-friendly companies when you’re browsing holidays and tours. The International Ecotourism Society has over 15,000 members worldwide.
It is also important to make sure you respect local laws and traditions when it comes to exploring natural landscapes and interacting with native wildlife.
We all know that the most environmentally-friendly way to travel is relying on good, old-fashioned leg power. If you can walk, jog, or cycle from one location to another, use the energy and muscle strength you have. If you walk or cycle, you’ll lower your carbon footprint, and you’ll also be boosting your mental and physical health.
Of course, it’s not always possible to run, walk, or ride, but many of us are guilty of flagging down cabs or jumping in the car to cover short distances. If you can get into the habit of leaving the car at home, or exploring cities or towns on foot when you travel overseas, you’ll save money, you’ll burn calories, and you’ll benefit from being out in the open air.
Sharing is caring
There are times when you have to fly or drive. If you’re going abroad and taking a train, a bus or a boat isn’t an option, and you have to book a flight and then hire a car, try and embrace the mantra ‘sharing is caring.’ Book flights with companies that fill their flights on a regular basis, look for airlines that promote eco-friendly initiatives, and share lifts whenever possible. If you’re travelling in a group, it’s better to hire a minibus or a coach than to rent a series of cars, for example.
If you use your car regular for work, could you share the journey with colleagues?
Invest in environmentally-friendly travel products
If you travel frequently, you may well have an arsenal of gadgets and gizmos to make your trips more comfortable and enjoyable. Take a look at the items you already have and think about investing in new, eco-friendly alternatives. Using refillable and recyclable bottles and cups is a really simple way to cut down on plastic use, for example.
Wet wipes can seem like a good travel companion, but did you know that 90% of wet wipes contain plastic and will take over 100 years to biodegrade? So check what you are buying and ensure the products are biodegrable. And avoid flushing them as even wipes marked as flushable are still prone to getting lodged in pipes.
And do you really need to buy more clothes for your holiday…..?
If you are going on a particularly active holiday where you and/or the kids might get very messy, don’t focus on buying cheap throwaway clothing. Not only will you be adding to landfill, but often cheap clothing is manufactured in developing countries with little regard for environmental impacts and employees’ welfare. Consider buying items from a charity shop instead.
Shocking documentaries and alarming headlines have got many of us thinking about the future of the Earth and how we can help to protect its natural beauty and most precious inhabitants. If you enjoy travelling, you don’t have to give up on your passion, but it is important to understand the impact of human activity and movement. Next time you commute to work, you take a trip to visit friends, or you book a holiday, take these tips on board to become a more eco-friendly traveller.