Travelling today for those who are environmentally conscious is a conflicting dilemma. You love travel, love visiting new places, you understand that many local communities rely on the income that tourism brings to them.
Yet travelling can also be incredibly damaging to the environment. Plane travel, over consumption, waste production, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion and damage to fragile ecosystems – all are wearing away at the earth in ways that seem to be quickening with every year that passes.
So as you look around the world and see the damage that manifests itself in devastating floods, destructive fires, avalanches of waste plastic and natural resources depleting at a rate of knots, you question whether continuing to travel is really an ethical choice to make.
The flipside is that travelling can be both great for your wellbeing and that of your family, and, if carried out responsibly and with due care and attention, can also bring great benefits economically to local communities.
How can I travel more sustainably?
The good news is that there are a few ways in which you can make your travelling more sustainable, and in some ways actually help to reverse the effects of environmental damage.
In fact, as the global population becomes more conscious of the effects of travel on the planet, more and more travel companies are pushing the sustainable narrative as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility endeavours, incorporating eco friendly policies into their activities and ending collaborations that have been proven to be damaging to the countries they are selling.
We’ve highlighted here some of the best ways of changing your travel habits to incorporate more sustainability. Some of them may seem quite small and insignificant – we urge you to remember here the nature of the compound effect – if millions of us make small achievable changes, the impact will be significant.
- Check out the eco credentials of your tour operators
As mentioned, many tourism companies are shifting towards sustainability. There may be those who are genuine in their endeavours, and others who are merely jumping on the bandwagon. Do carry out your due diligence and check that their eco claims are irrefutable, leading to specific, quantifiable improvements.
- Invest in carbon off-setting
By its very nature travel is the process of moving from point A to point B. It will involve using means of transport that emit polluting carbon. Being more selective in the mode of transport you use will make a difference. For example, using electric cabs and trains, when in city centres or travelling between cities. However, planes are still an essential element of you are wanting to go further afield. When booking your flights you can choose to join a carbon off-setting scheme, whereby you can offset your carbon emissions by paying into a scheme that plants trees to compensate.
- Support local economies
While many global brands have infiltrated some of the most remote towns and cities worldwide, choose instead to support the businesses run by local independent businesses.
- Be aware of your rubbish
Waste plastics are one of the most devastating consequences of tourism, and we have all seen the images of beautiful oceans swimming in the rubbish generated by tourists. Do your bit by minimising your use of plastics, take your own water bottle, pack other items that can be reused rather than thrown away, discard any rubbish responsibly.
- Book green, eco friendly hotels
Whether you are glamping in the UK, or going high end luxury in the Maldives, check on the eco credentials of your accommodation. The closer they claim to be net zero, the better. But again, do your due diligence abd triple check that they are not making exaggerated eco claims.