Planning a trip but want to minimise your impact on the environment? Better Traveller has put together some tips to an altogether greener journey.
There is no denying the beauty of travel and its offer enriching experiences, but it’s important to remember that the daily movement of humanity’s great mass has an enormous impact on the environment, with air travel a major contributor to carbon emissions. There are many ways, however, that you can lessen your impact as you see the world—both before and during your trip. Here, Better Traveller’s guide to green and eco-friendly travel.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- If you can afford it, choose to offset the carbon emissions of your air travel, with the vast majority of airlines offering this option when you make a booking online. By doing so, you are investing in projects that reduce the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere by your trip. You can see Qantas’ carbon neutral initiatives here: Qantas.com.au
- Consider visiting a destination that prides itself on its environmental initiatives. The European Green Capital Award recognises the efforts of cities, such as Bristol and Copenhagen, helping to improve the environment.
- In your home, turn your hot water system to its lowest setting, your air condition or heating unit off, and unplug your electronic appliances.
- Pack light. The more luggage you take with you on the plane increases its fuel use given the weight increase.
- Pack eco-friendly clothing and tools, such as recycled garments and those made from organic fibres.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, try to find one with a high eco rating (Eco Hotels of the World maintains an up-to-date database, while Green Getaways Australia shows those on home soil) or that’s a participant in WWF’s initiative The Leading Hotels of the World, for which one Euro (or its equivalent) is added to your bill and donated to the organisation’s conservation projects, of which there are currently more than 1000 around the world. You’ll find participating hotels here: wwf.panda.org
ON YOUR TRIP
- If you’re heading overseas, particularly from Australia, air travel is pretty much a certainty, but there are other plenty of other ways to get around once you reach your destination. For shorter domestic journeys, take a train instead of flying. In some cases, the trip works out faster and more comfortably, such as in Europe where the trains are fast and efficient.
- Rather than taking taxis around the city you’re visiting consider walking, using public transport or cycling. You’ll see and experience more as well as reduce your carbon footprint.
- Plastic disposable water bottles are one of the greatest contributors to landfill, so rather than purchasing them on the go, carry a reusable bottle and refill it along the way.
- If you’re staying in a hotel with daily housekeeping, ask the staff not to wash your linen on a daily basis. There’s usually a sign available to put out to indicate this.
- Given we don’t see the energy and electricity charges itemised on our bill as we do the mini-bar, it’s easy to forget that we’re using a large amount of it in the hotel room. Turn off your air conditioning, heating and lights when you leave the room.
- If you’re renting a car, choose one appropriate for the number of travellers, and avoid any upgrades to a larger vehicle, as they tend to use more fuel.
- Avoid buying souvenirs from any endangered species to help minimise illegal trade. These include shells, feathers and animal skins, most of which are banned from bringing through Australian customs anyway.
Image: Green by Will Clayton 2010
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