Key tips for infusing your travels with ample consideration for the environment + opportunities to help heal the planet.
One of the reasons we travel is because we want to explore the Great Barrier Reef, glaciers, the Amazon and other natural wonders before they’re unrecognizable. This awareness of the vast changes Mother Earth is experiencing makes us want to be super cognizant about not perpetuating the problem with our tourism. So, we’ve crafted eco-friendly travel to-dos we try to abide by as much as possible. If we’re missing one, please let us know in the comments :) Let’s work together to keep our planet a healthy and vibrant sphere, ripe with opportunities for adventure and expansion.
1. Selecting an eco-friendly hotel
Where you choose to rest your head has one of the biggest impacts on how your presence impacts the locale you’re visiting. Putting in the time to discern which hotels or vacation rentals are kind to the environment will help you put your money where your mouth is if you’re passionate about healing our planet (especially because eco-options tend to be a bit pricier than their non-eco-conscious counterparts.) Find out how to know when a hotel is eco-friendly here.
2. Using biodegradable toiletries
Depending on the water system used in the area you’re visiting, what you send down the pipes could have a direct impact on the health of the local ecosystem. Selecting products that won’t do harm if they end up being mixed with a local water supply, spread on a field of food, or infused into another aspect of the natural world will give you good travel karma and put you on Nature’s nice-list.
3. Requesting to not have your sheets and towels washed, unless necessary
Having your bedding and towels washed every day is usually unnecessary and uses a lot of water. Unless you sweat through your sheets, or a child (or too drunk adult) has an accident in bed, you’re probably good to go 3-5 days without the sheets being changed. In regards to towels, if you’re only using them when you’re already clean, they can go 5-7 days without a wash.
4. Unplugging appliances when they're not in use
As many appliances pull energy even when they're turned off, you can reduce your use by unplugging them when they're not needed. Clever countries like Australia make this even easier by having a switch above outlets, allowing you to flip them out of power-sucking mode.
5. Abstaining from using plastic straws
If you love baby sea turtles, dolphins and other such adorable sea creatures you’ll bring your cup up to your lips and say no to plastic straws. Those thin tubes of plastic significantly contribute to the 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals that die from ingested plastic each year, as 500,000 straws are used in the United States EVERY DAY. With that said, if you’re a die-hard straw devotee, invest in a few metal straws to travel with.
6. Drinking from a reusable water bottle
Just like plastic straws, plastic water bottles litter the ocean and other bodies of water, causing death to animals and contamination of ecosystems. In addition, toxins from the plastic can leak into the water it contains – toxins that could cause cancer and a disruption of the reproductive system. In America alone, about 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away daily.
To avoid being part of this statistic, travel with a metal reusable water bottle. If you’ll be in an area where the drinking water is iffy, bring a portable filter so you can fill a sink or bowl and pump filtered water into your bottle. This will also save you some coin.
7. Cooking your own meals
Instead of grabbing takeout that often comes with heaps of Styrofoam or plastic for one meal, pre-plan a majority of your meals and buy only what you’ll actually use from the store. Or even better, get your goods from a local farmer’s market, as we mention below. And added perk, this can save you big bucks.
8. Renting a fuel-efficient car
If you have to rent a car, call the rental company and ask what their most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly car is. This will not only save you money on fuel, but your eco-tire-track will be smaller. And if you’re not certain you need a car, consider...