(Sightseeing in Malaysia, 2017)
Exploring the world is fun and educational. Unfortunately travelling often requires flying, which puts a big dent in your ecological footprint. Take off and landing create a ton of carbon emissions, but they can’t be avoided if you want to see and understand more of the world, so try to offset the impact of flying by doing as much as you can.
I’ve been trying to do my part by researching what steps I can take. Here’s a good list I’ve come up with. You’ve probably heard of a few of these but I’m guessing you haven’t heard or thought of them all (especially #17)!
- Pack (& actually use) reusable bags. Take them with you where you go, so you don’t ever end up needing to ask for a plastic bag! (Learn more about just how bad plastic bags are here)
- Pack (& actually use) a reusable water bottle. Avoid single use plastic bottles like the plague! (Find a water bottle that’s right for you here)
- Pack (& actually use) reusable containers for toiletries instead of buying little travel size ones. Not only are they overpriced, but they’re a waste of plastic.
- Pack light. This takes up less space on the plane, which is better for emissions. I’ll be honest, this is a toughie for me, as a girl guide at heart I always want to be prepared for EVERYTHING. I’m working on it…
- Look for eco-friendly places to stay. This might be tricky (or impossible) to find, depending on where you’re going, but it’s worth taking a look. If it doesn’t say, ask.
- Say no to takeaway containers & plastic bags. If you’re someone who’s forever getting takeaway food, then bring your own container. Otherwise, be more conscious of how much food you’re ordering, so you don’t end up with leftovers. And eat in the restaurant.
- Take public transit when possible. That way you’re sharing the carbon emissions with everyone else on the bus. You’ll probably meet some interesting locals while you’re at it.
- Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel door. You wouldn’t need a maid to come to your home every day, would you? So why do it at a hotel?
- Hang up your towels after each use. Hotels around the world know that means you want to use them again. Less washing means less water, energy, and soap usage.
- Travel over land. When you can, avoid planes. You’ll get to see more of the landscape that way too!
- Turn off lights and air conditioning when leaving your hotel room, & close blinds if it’s hot. Save energy.
- Eat Local. Ask your hotel or airbnb staff where to eat for true local food. Local food doesn’t have to travel as far, which cuts down on emissions.
- Pick up garbage on the beach. Dispose of it properly so it doesn’t end up back in the ocean.
- Resist the urge to go crazy on hotel perks like clean towels and new shampoo bottles every morning. “Free” stuff seems exciting, but you really don’t need them.
- Take any mini shampoo bottles & soap from your hotel room with you when you go. Otherwise they’ll just get thrown out. Then you can at least use them and then reuse or recycle the bottles after.
- Pack any recycling you’ve used if it can’t be recycled in the town you’re visiting. Check if your hotel has a recycling program, but make sure it’s legit, some will say they recycle but actually just throw things out. If it’s not legit, pack the items in your suitcase to recycle when you get home.
- Encourage places to reduce & recycle by leaving a note about it in your comments upon checkout. The more people become aware of it, the better!
- Donate to programs that help the environment. Either locally, or back at home.
If it’s not possible to do everything don’t beat yourself up about it, just do what you can. It may seem like you’re only one person, but if we all start doing this, it will make a difference! Tell your friends and family to do the same.
If you want to do even more, read how you can be zero waste, and let us know what else you’re doing to help the environment!