Some might say the phrase eco-travel is an oxymoron. But there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling.
Here is a list of small but effect eco-travel tips to help the planet that I’ve adopted over the last few years.
- I’m an advocate of public transport use and the vast majority of my destination guides include information on this method of travel. Only 2.5% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation but civil aviation still accounts for 13.4% of CO2 emissions from transport in the EU. Road transportation accounts for 72% of transport emissions in the EU with 60.7% of that from passenger cars.
- Public rail transport on continental Europe is both excellent and a great alternative to car rental between urban areas.
- For shorter distances, I’m a fan of cycling and have used the bike rentals schemes in Paris and Tel Aviv with success. I’ve rented bicycles from private operators in many of the destinations I’ve visited.
- If you want to reduce your CO2 emissions from aviation but still have to use an airplane, there are ways of doing so.
- Firstly, pack light. The heavier the plane, the more fuel is burned.
- Secondly, choose to off-set your carbon emissions. Deforestation is the second largest contributor to climate change so projects that address this are most beneficial.
- Direct flights use less fuel than flights with stopovers.
- Finally, organise your holidays in a way that relies on transport other than flying as much as possible. For example, if you wish to visit two countries near each other, why not visit them in one longer trip and use public transport between the two, as opposed to two shorter trips. For example, in one trip I flew into Belgrade in Serbia, used public transport during my stay, took the Belgrade to Bar train to neighbouring Montenegro, finishing the trip by flying home from nearby Dubrovnik airport.
- The amount of waste generated from transport dining never ceases to amaze me. I’ve never seen the beneficial use of plastic straws. Who needs a straw to drink a milkshake or a cocktail? Just gulp it down! You need to stir it? Simple, get a biodegradable/reusable straw or reusable spoon.
- Speaking of spoons, travelling with your own metal or biodegradable version will cut down on plastic cutlery. Yes, strange looks await you at hand luggage security but there is method in the madness. The environment will thank you. Metal knives and forks will have to be placed in the aircraft hold when flying.
- Carrying a reusable water bottle reduces the need for single-use plastic bottle purchases. Alternatively, it’s okay to re-use a plastic bottle a few times.
- Carrying a reusable tea/coffee cup reduces the use of single-use plastic versions although some outlets will not sell hot liquids in customers’ cups.
- If you intend to picnic outdoors, use reusable Tupperware to transport the food instead of single-use containers. Bring a bag for your rubbish so you can leave no trace.
- Try to buy the local foods of your destination. This reduces the amount of miles the food has travelled.
- Re-use hotel towels and make significant environmental savings on water, detergent and electricity usage. Towels can be used two to three times so follow the hotel’s instructions for re-use.
- If you’re opting for a self-catering accommodation option, recycle as much as possible. Ask the accommodation management for recycling options. If none exist, look into public/municipal recycling centres/bins.
- Finally, don’t bin your holiday read when finished the final chapter. Some hotels, hostels and private accommodation providers have book swaps. Alternatively, just give it to another holiday-maker.
Eco-travel is possible and small changes can make a huge difference. The benefits of travel are numerous, both economically and socially. If we are ever going to rid the world of intolerance and prejudice then travel has to happen.
But the above eco-travel tips can be applied to everyday living. So don’t wait until your holidays to go green. You can start straight away.