For many of us, holidays are a time to sit back, relax, and take a break from using our brains. Beach, cocktails, a cheeky boogie at the local club – what’s more relaxing?
Unfortunately, pollution and environmental ruin don’t stop just because we’ve mentally checked out.
And with a new report showing an expected 1.8bn tourist arrivals globally by 2030, it’s time to start thinking about the planet.
Considering the impact we make on the places we visit is not only a mark of respect, but a great way to make sure that others can enjoy nature’s glory for years to come.
Sustainable travel doesn’t have to be a killjoy; all it takes is a bit of extra effort for a massive payoff.
Below are eight easy things you can do to make your next holiday more environmentally-friendly.
1. Fly responsibly
Living in Australia, taking planes is, for better or worse, the reality of our lives. And with flight deals left, right and centre, we often don’t think twice about purchasing the cheapest ticket to get us to that destination we just have to go to.
The problem is that flying is a major environmental polluter, but there are ways to offset this. When booking your flights, look into things like carbon offsetting, choosing airlines with higher occupancy and more efficient aircrafts.
2. Take the train
If travelling interstate or within your own state, consider taking a train. Most states have a regional train service, such as the V-line in Victoria, or you can even take a ferry in some parts of the country.
If you want something different, there’s always the Ghan, a train service operating between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin.
3. Lose the car
Do you tend to catch an Uber or taxi everywhere when you travel? They may be convenient, but cars are also some of the Earth’s greatest polluters, so why not try a bike instead?
While a bus tour can be more comfortable, there’s nothing like signing up to a bike or walking tour (usually offered in every city) which allows you access into areas a vehicle can’t reach.
Bike tours are also a great way to exercise and burn off those holiday cocktails and delicious foreign desserts.
4. Take a reusable cup and water bottle
Travelling often means moving, eating and drinking on the go. To minimise plastic consumption, take a KeepCup for those takeaway coffees and teas.
With the world currently producing about 380 million tons of plastic every year – 50 per cent of which is for single-use purpose – most of it goes into the oceans and often ends up in tragedies for wildlife.
KeepCups are not only cool, they can also double as a container for food items such as loose snacks or pieces of fruit.
A stainless steel reusable drink bottle is also a good idea, and will help you avoid ever having to buy plastic bottled water.
5. Avoid plastic packaging
As an extension of the previous point, try to avoid buying food or anything, really, wrapped in plastic packaging.
Shop at local markets for food, go to bulk food stores for loose items, and eat in at cafes rather than opting for takeaway, which often comes wrapped in packaging and with plastic cutlery.
You’re on holiday, so take your time and enjoy the moment.
6. Opt for eco-friendly accommodation
Actively seek out hotels that offer eco options – some even offer a discount if you opt out of daily room service to reduce things like changing towels and replacing toiletries.
Look out for hotels and other accommodation with effective waste treatment systems, places that recycle, that are energy efficient, and, where possible, that use environmentally-friendly energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric power.
Examples include the Hoshinoya Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, which is powered by hydroelectricity through a system simply called Energy In My Yard (EIMY), providing 70 per cent of the resort’s energy, including floor heating; or the canvas-roofed, fully solar-powered lodge within the Marakele National Park in South Africa.
7. Go for green sunscreen
Ingredients in sunscreen have been linked to bleaching and destroying coral reefs. Some cities and even nations are already banning certain types of sunscreen, such as Palau, a beautiful country surrounded by coral reefs in the western Pacific Ocean, as well as Hawaii and Key West, Florida, which have passed similar laws that will come into effect in 2021.
The biggest problem is oxybenzone, a UV filtering ingredient that disrupts coral reproduction and damages its DNA.
If you’re heading to a destination where you will be swimming in the ocean, use a sunscreen that doesn’t come with nasty ingredients. Try Green People, Badger Balm, Goddess Garden or some of these planet-friendly sunscreens.
8. Choose ethical trips
Doing a little research and seeking out companies that put ethical travel at their core can go a long way to making a difference.
Intrepid, Exodus and Soulful Concepts all specialise in ethical and sustainable travel experiences, with Intrepid becoming the first company to stop offering elephant rides as part of its trips, and donating 100 per cent from a season of trips to Nepal to help rebuild after the 2015 earthquake.
There’s also G Adventures, an adventure company that works with social enterprises and NGOs across the globe through the Planeterra Foundation, who make it their mission to support small, locally owned companies and businesses.
TELL US: How do you make travelling more environmentally-friendly? Share your tips in the comments section below.