Travel and tourism is a high-polluting industry accounting for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and rising.
Its rapid growth is due to several reasons such as the increasing demand for air travel including the rise in budget airlines, which have meant that catching a flight overseas is much easier, affordable, and convenient these days. However, aircraft engines emit heat, noise, particulates and gases which lead to climate change and global dimming.
Populations are also becoming richer resulting in a higher demand for luxury travel which is said to have more of an impact on the environment than mass tourism given that luxury travellers consume four times more water per day.
The global tourism industry is showing no signs of slowing down, with figures demonstrating its growth at 5%, which is even faster than the growth of international trade.
Travellers around the world are becoming more conscious of the impact their travel is having on the environment. However, we understand that it is easy to want to become more eco-friendly and travel more sustainably, but putting it into practice can be a much more difficult task. That’s why we have identified just five ways you can offset the environmental impact of your next trip.
Starting with just one activity can make an incredible difference. As you become more aware of the small practices you can conduct and the small or large activities that you can participate in, you will soon be doing them without a second thought and you will gradually become the ultimate eco-traveller.
Clear plastic/litter from the beach
In order to keep our oceans clean and protect marine life, it is important to clean up our beaches. Throughout the world, beaches attract thousands of visitors every year with many leaving a trail of waste that is often swept up by the waves and taken out to sea when the tide rises.
To minimise this impact, many groups often get together and contribute to beach clean-ups. Before you head out to your destination, check online if there are any groups conducting a beach clean up while you are there. It is not just beaches either, many groups clear plastic and litter from top attractions and local parks too.
Seek out sustainable accommodation
Option one is to stay in an eco hotel, which refers to those accommodation providers contributing to environmental protection and preservation activities. This includes activities such as asking guests to reuse towels, recycling, using solar energy, serving local and organic food, and installing eco-friendly filtered water dispensers, among many others.
Option two is to make yourself at home in your hotel. Reuse towels, have short showers, keep the aircon/heat to a minimum and use it only when necessary, and turn off all electricals when you are not using them. Just giving thought and making a few small changes can have such a big impact in the long run.
Travelling overland by train or other mode of ground transport can limit your carbon footprint substantially in comparison to taking multipe flights. Not only will you be reducing your carbon footprint, you will get to take in some awesome views of the countryside on your travels. It’s a win-win!
Buy local produce
Buy local goods and produce from local farm shops or convenience stores. Not only will you be helping the store owner, you will helping to sustain the livelihood of local farmers rather than contributing to another multinational chain.
When you are heading out for food and/or drinks in the evening, drink a locally brewed beer and eat at locally run restaurants and cafes. If you head somewhere nearby, you will also reduce your carbon footprint by travelling there by foot or bicycle, rather than taking a taxi.
Avoid bottled water
Plastic bottles contribute heavily to waste around the world. Depending on where you are travelling this can be difficult as you cannot drink the tap water in many destinations. Check with your hotel whether they have water points for you to fill up your reusable bottle. Otherwise, try to opt for biodegradable bottles.