What if you could change the world by changing the way you travel? Sustainable travel...green travel...eco-friendly travel...I'm not going to mince words...if you want to be an eco-friendly travel it will take some effort on your part. Sustainable travelling is finding effective ways to be a tourist, without harming the natural surroundings and resources of the place you visit. The emphasis is on reducing our so called ‘footprint’, in this context defined as our personal negative effect on the places we visit. So defined, it also involves considering the impact of tourism on the local people and culture. It can be hard to know where to start, but the most important thing is to start.
focusing on the issues that matter the most to you. Then find a hotel that matches your priorities. “Decide your cause and what you won’t compromise on,” she said.
This collection of travel tips, resources and ideas will help you reduce your environmental footprint around the world as we move into a new decade.
Overtourism is a rapidly increasing global problem
Facts: Of the 1.4 billion international tourist trips that people took in 2017, half a billion of them were to the 300 most popular cities, according to the World Tourism and Travel Council. Shanghai, Beijing, Paris, New York and Orlando were the five most popular destinations.
1. Off-Season Travel
We can travel during the off-season. This means different things for different destinations. Research the busiest season for your desired destination before you go. Other benefits of traveling off-season are fewer crowds, a more authentic experience, and cheaper flights and travel expenses.
Related: Add my shoulder season blog post
Being aware of a destination’s specific problems with overtourism before visiting can be really helpful. For example, if a destination’s issue is Airbnb making housing unaffordable for locals, book a hotel instead. If the problem is environmental, tread lightly. If the problem is litter and pollution, pack out your own trash and rent a bike or take public transit instead of driving.
3. Choose Alternative Destinations Over Places Suffering from Overtourism
While all those amazing locations you see on social media are wonderful, trying something a little less popular can be just as fulfilling and beautiful. These alternative destinations can help promote sustainable travel all across the world.
TRAIN, PLANE, CAR OR BUS?
How much carbon dioxide do different modes of transportation produce, per passenger for each kilometre?
- Train: 14 grams
- Average car: 55 grams
- Small car: 42 grams
- Bus: 68 grams
- Plane: 285 grams
Next in line are trains and buses. However, their impact on the environment depends on such factors as route, fuel type and passenger load.
“Everything we take – and leave behind – has a footprint. The trick is to do more with far less,”
Carry on only
Pack snacks, reusable bottles, and utensils
CHOOSING ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
Facts: greenwashing can be challenging to spot because sustainability is complex, as the sustainable tourism recipe comprises many ingredients including how to sustainably deliver and develop infrastructure and services including, but far from limited to, design, building, energy, water, waste, carbon emissions, employment, supply chain purchasing, food, equality, community development, culture, conservation, excursions… the tourism sector is often inextricably linked with most others locally, connecting internationally. The complex supply chain means it is easy to claim locals benefit while realistically it’s the originating organisations.
Many hotels these days are jumping onboard the sustainable bandwagon, which is great! The good news is eco-friendly hotels used to be hard to find but now, they’re all over the place. Before picking your hotel, read up on their policies and how they are implementing sustainable initiatives.
CHOOSING AN ECO-FRIENDLY DESTINATION
Facts: some countries and cities demonstrate a deep commitment to Earth-friendly policies and practices.
But don’t judge a destination by its ranking, or lack thereof. When researching a vacation spot, look for places that naturally embrace the green lifestyle. Telltale signs include a robust public transportation system, acres of parkland, walkable neighborhoods, designated bike lanes, farmers markets and volunteer opportunities.
What about carbon offsets?
Carbon offsets allow travellers to purchase a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions to compensate for the same amount of emissions produced by their trip.
Carbon offsets are bought and sold through a number of international brokers, online retailers and trading platforms. For example, a wind energy company would sell carbon offsets to help their company create new non-polluting energy, which the buyer would be able to claim mitigates their polluting energy use.
The David Suzuki Foundation recommends the Gold Standard, the highest standard in the world for carbon offsets. Administered by the Gold Standard Foundation, a non-profit based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Gold Standard is now supported by more than 80 non-governmental organizations and focuses on projects in developing countries.
Less Emissions, a Canadian company owned by the green energy retailer Bullfrog Power, prices its carbon offsets by the tonne. Domestic offsets cost $24 per tonne, while international offsets cost $32 per tonne. “If you flew from Halifax to Vancouver and back … that would cost you roughly $40,” says Sean Drygas, president of Bullfrog Power.
Once you’ve arrived
You can make a difference when planning your next trip with informed and sustainable decisions once you’re on the ground.
Share the wealth
Think local when looking for transportation, a hotel, restaurant or tour guide to help tourism dollars benefit the community you’re visiting. Renting a bike can seem like a small step, but it allows you to explore beyond the confines of a vehicle, is less polluting and puts money into the pocket of a local business.
Flex your studies
Use a guide book or official website to research your destination to understand customs, traditions and history before travelling. Learn what to wear when exploring, whether you’re visiting a monument or a local market (remember to bring clothing to cover up when visiting any religious site). Ask a hotel concierge or tour guide for advice on what to pay for local services, such as a ride in a tuk tuk.
Meet the maker
When shopping for souvenirs or handcrafted objects, avoid buying items that could be considered a biological treasure (such as a rare plant or exotic pet) or an antique that may be archaeologically significant. Never buy banned wildlife products such as ivory or a tortoise shell. If you want to go the extra step, be considerate when bargaining, depending where you travel — it’s normal to barter, but don’t fight over pennies.
Treat your destination as if it were your home. Go beyond avoiding plastic straws or bags and reusing towels by bringing your own biodegradable toiletries in refillable containers — leave behind as little as possible.
Watch what you eat
Choose locally sourced and created cuisine. Try to eat in instead of eating on-the-go — that way there’s less waste from your carry out containers. Avoid supporting chain stores, where you might be missing out on the culture and where more waste may be produced. Pack a refillable water bottle; in areas where bottled water is the only option, consider buying larger bottles to share to reduce plastic waste.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAVEL PROVIDERAnywhere