Are you a green traveller?
Travel, as much fun it is, as much as it can offer life-changing experiences and unforgettable memories, it can also make your eco footprint on this world a few sizes larger than it would be if you just stayed at home. In fact, it could make it positively gigantic.
This is definitely concerning to me, and I think it should be to you too. No matter what some questionable Politicians say, Climate Change is real and we have to do our bit now to make sure that we aren’t underwater in fifty years time. We need to make sure that we are being green travellers as much as possible.
If you are a massive travel lover like me, even though you may be concerned about the environment, I’m sure you don’t want to just stop traveling entirely. Hell, travel is my life and my passion and the thought of not traveling freaks me out.
Luckily you don’t have to choose either travel or caring for the environment. There are a lot of small changes you can make to become a more green traveller. It just takes a bit of awareness and conscientiousness to start changing wasteful habits, then before you know it these tips will become new habit and you won’t even need to think about being a green traveller – it will just come naturally.
And the thing about changing your travel and everyday habits to become a more green traveller is that most of the time you will also be saving money – win-win!
Here are my top tips to help you become a green traveller:
21 Tips for Becoming a Green Traveller
1) Avoid Bottled Water
By not buying bottled water you are doing your bit to not add more plastic to landfill, as well as saving a lot of money over time by not buying something that is available pretty much everywhere for free.
Carry a water bottle with you on your travels that you can refill. If you are in a country where the water is unsafe to drink or backpacking in the wilderness, you should definitely invest in a water purifier – there are great, lightweight options these days like the SteriPen and LifeStraw which work simply and super fast. It will pay itself off pretty quick and is a big step towards becoming a more green traveller.
2) Say no to Straws
Straws are a massive pet peeve of mine and do so much damage to wildlife as well as contributing to the plastic problem. About 90% of the time a straw is not required – just drink out of the bottle or cup directly, it’s not hard – but if you don’t think the lip of a bottle is clean or sterile and wiping it isn’t enough, you can buy reusable metal straws that can easily be carried with you and used when required. Stay away from plastic straws people!
3) Travel Overland
Rather than flying between destinations, why not travel overland? Flying massively adds to your carbon footprint and although of course sometimes there is no other way to get to where you are going, there are many instances where you can take a train, bus, rideshare, boat or car instead. I travelled from Mexico City all the way to Buenos Aires without taking a flight back in 2012 and it was a great way to really see the countries I was travelling through as well as not making my carbon footprint the size of Big Foot. Those flights can be expensive too – a lot of the time it can be cheaper to take other forms of transport.
4) Stay Longer
The longer you stay in a place, the less you are spending on transport – simple. Rather than hopping around destinations in the time you have to travel, you could look at focusing more on just a couple of destinations that are close to each other which means you are cutting down on transport costs as well as getting a better insight into the places that you do decide to visit. It will feel less rushed and more relaxed, as well as saving your money overall on transport, and taking another step to become a green traveller.
5) Choose Eco-friendly Accommodation
There are so many awesome eco-lodges and even eco-hostels all around the world. From clean power sources and eco-friendly cleaning products through to recycling water and composting toilets – there are many ways that accommodation can be eco-friendly. By staying at green certified accommodations, you know that you are being responsible and helping to do your bit for our fragile planet.
6) Don’t Waste Food
Food wastage is a massive problem in most Western Nations with a disgusting amount of food ending up at the dump, while people living on the streets are starving: It’s a disgrace. With a bit of meal planning and awareness you can cut your food wastage right down, saving you money and doing your bit for the environment. If you do have food leftover that you aren’t going to use before moving on to your next destination – leave a note on it so fellow hostel-dwellers or even a Hotel Cleaner will know that they can have it. An easy step to becoming a more green traveller.
7) Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
An obvious one that you should be doing in your everyday life as well. It isn’t always possible to recycle when you are travelling, at least not easily, but recycle whenever you can whether that means carrying that coke can or glass drink bottle back to your accommodation if they have recycling rather than throwing it into the trash on the street. Also if composting is an option where you are staying, make sure you separate your food scraps and put them in composting.
8) Eat More Vegetarian
If you have seen the documentary Cowspiracy, you will know what I am talking about with this one. Eating meat for every meal is one of the worst things you can do for the environment as Agribusiness is one of the biggest contributors to Climate Change. There is a lot of research out there that also suggests that eating a lot of meat isn’t good for your body either. Eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables is good for your body, your wallet, and the environment, and there are so many more amazing vegetarian options out there these days. Eating more vegetarian, or even better – vegan, is one of the biggest changes you can make to become a green traveller.
9) Carry Canvas Bags
Carrying a couple of canvas bags in your luggage won’t take up much extra space and can be used for many great travel uses including as a washing bag, to carry all the extra crap you invariably end up picking up on trips, and for food shopping, cutting the need to use plastic bags.
10) When it’s Yellow let it Mellow
Yep, I’m talking about pee. You really don’t need to flush when going for a number one, so if you are staying in accommodation with your own bathroom, let the yellow mellow and save some water. But perhaps this isn’t one to try when you are staying in a large dorm room – strangers may not appreciate it.
11) Eat Local and in Season
Along with eating vegetarian more often, another way to make an impact on your carbon footprint it by eating local when possible. There are a lot more restaurants popping up in cities and towns around the world with a focus on food that is locally grown and in season. By doing this it cuts down on transport costs quite dramatically – including putting less C02 from truck exhaust into the atmosphere and cutting down on heavy-duty packaging that food travelling from other countries needs to be packed in to keep it fresh for its long journey. Your food will taste fresher too if it’s from around the corner rather than from around the world.
12) Start Using a Menstrual cup
For you lady travellers – are you sick of trying to find tampons in foreign countries where they are few and far between, or marked up massively in price? Give a menstrual cup a try. It may seem daunting at first but you get the hang of putting it in and taking it out pretty quickly and it will save you loads of money, is better for your body (no more bleached cotton inside you!) and is so much better for the environment as they are reusable. In the US you can get a Diva Cup or you can order a Moon Cup online if you are in the UK or pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Used pads and tampons can obviously not be recycled so imagine over a lifetime how many you are adding to landfill – it boggles the mind. Get on the moon cup bandwagon and I promise you – you’ll never look back! A great way to become a more green traveller.
13) Put your Walking Shoes on
The best way to explore a city or town: walking it, hands down. Using your own two feet to get around doesn’t add to your carbon footprint at all and is a great way to exercise and explore a place more deeply. Hiring a bike to get around is also a great alternative to motorised transport.
14) Hang Clothes out to dry
This is definitely not always possible, but if you are staying somewhere longer and have your own room or apartment, why not hang out your clothes to dry – the old fashioned way. This saves energy by not using the dryer and believe me, your clothes will last a lot longer if they aren’t subjected to the high heats of a dryer every week. You can pick up a lightweight travel clothesline – it takes up hardly any space.
15) Ditch the Unnecessary Plastic When Shopping
When shopping at supermarkets, ditch the pre-packaged fruits and vegetables and skip adding any produce to plastic bags – you are going to wash them before you eat them anyway so why add more packaging to the mix. A very easy way to help become a more green traveller.
16) Take Public Transport
There are some places that you are going to travel where hiring a car is the best way to get around, but when traveling to places with great public transport you can get around cheaper and easier by doing like the locals do and taking public transport. In the age of smartphones, you can plan your trip on Public Transport easily on Google Maps making it a painless experience. Maybe just avoid rush hour in the mornings and evenings though if you can – experiencing that wouldn’t be so painless.
17) Carry Your Lunch in Tupperware
Cling wrap and tin foil can not be recycled and if you find yourself packing a lunch often, why not invest in a tupperware container. Alternatively, a good space-saving option if you are traveling with a carry-on is this reusable cloth sandwich wrap that is coated in beeswax – it’s easy to use, washable and compostable.
18) Re-Usable Batteries
Batteries can quickly get expensive and are wasteful as they just get thrown in the trash when they are done. Spend a little more upfront and buy re-usable batteries and a battery charger so you don’t have to worry about buying batteries again for your devices, you can just re-charge the ones you have and they will be ready to go again. A money-saving and eco-friendly hack all in one for green travellers.
19) Choose Your Activities Carefully
Make sure when you are signing up for any tours that you are making a responsible choice. There are tours out there that exploit animals, that pollute the environment, and that don’t respect the local communities in which they run the tours. Do a little research to make sure that the tours you decide to take aren’t exploitative. Choose local tour providers with green credentials whenever possible to be a more green traveller.
20) Ditch Those Disposable Razors
Buying disposable razors can seem cheap but the costs add up overtime and you are just adding more trash to a planet that can’t take much more. There are great reusable razors on the market, and even ladies can take advantage of men-focused shave clubs. Save money and do a little bit more to reduce your carbon footprint. It’ll save room in your bag too – one great razor rather than a bunch of shitty plastic ones.
21) Mend Your Clothes
The road can be rough on your clothes, I’m talking holes, ripped seams, stains – you name it, my clothes have seen it during my years of travel. Rather than throwing away clothes at the first sign of wear and tear, why not carry a small sewing kit with you to mend your clothes on the road. It saves them from the dump and means you don’t have to buy new ones – at least for a while longer. And when you do need to buy replacement clothes when yours really do need replacing – buy secondhand when you can. You are giving someone else’s old clothes a second chance at life.
So there you have it, I am not eco-expert by any means but these are a few tips and tricks I picked up in my travels and life that can definitely help you become a more green traveller.
I hope I have given you some ideas on ways to be a green traveller. And make sure to let me know what I missed.