10 Ways To Travel Eco-Friendly
Racking up air miles doesn't help the environment, and neither do the wasteful things we do when we're away from home. But there are choices you can make, like earth-friendly travel accessories, reducing your use of plastic including water bottles, staying at eco-friendly accommodations, and, at the very least, declining that your towels or bedsheets are changed every day (who does that at home anyway?!).
Here are some things I've researched in my effort to be a more eco-friendly traveler. Let me know if you have other tips in the comments!
1. Fly more responsibly
Book nonstop whenever you can. Takeoffs and landings create a majority of the plane’s carbon emissions.
Don't fly business or first class. They seat fewer people, so they’re less efficient. Business class is usually between two or three times as energy intensive as economy class. First class can be as much as four times as energy intensive.
2. Bring reusable bags
Plastic bags can take up to 500 years to biodegrade so bring re-useable washable bags that you can use for local markets, keeping your dirty laundry, storing your toiletries, etc.
3. Pack light!
The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Every pound counts. I created a guide for packing light, even when traveling with kids.
4. Use public transportation, walk, bike
When you can, as that means you're not creating additional carbon emissions from private transport. And you get to check out how locals get around, which can be fun. For everything that’s below 600 miles, taking a train, a bus or driving is much more efficient.
5. Treat your hotel like home
Like I mentioned above, who changes their sheets every day at home? Avoid getting your sheets changed often (just put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your room every day before leaving, which also cuts back on unnecessary daily cleaning using chemicals, electricity and water), hang up and reuse your towels, unplug electronics, turn off the lights.
6. Choose a green hotel
In the U.S., check to see if the hotel has LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (which measures sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design).
Overseas check on sites like EarthCheck (Australia), Green Globe, Rainforest Alliance (Latin America, Caribbean), Green Tourism Business Scheme (UK), or Green Key Global, which evaluates properties on an environmental, social, and economic level, has certified around 2,370 eco-hotels and eco-lodges in 52 countries over the past 15 years.
If traveling elsewhere, ask if the hotel has a recycling program and inquire about any sustainability efforts like solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets. And find out if the hotel's resources are local (staff, food, materials).
7. Buy local, handmade
Products whenever you can as souvenirs, versus items flown in from Asian assembly lines (look closely at any tourist market and it's easy to spot the culprits).
8. Travel with small group tour operators
They tend to have less of an environmental impact, like members of The International Ecotourism Society, which aim to conduct business in a responsible, sustainable manner.
9. Buy eco-friendly travel items
🌱 Like an eco-friendly suitcase, made from recycled plastic and factory waste materials
🌱 Or quick drying towels, they're compact and use less water and energy to wash and dry
🌱 A reusable water bottle, bonus is this one which also filters tap water
🌱A bamboo cutlery set that's durable, resilient and compostable
🌱A travel mug (coffee cups end up in the landfill because they're coated in polyurethane).
🌱Toothpaste tablets – plastic free!
🌱Coral reef-safe sunscreen
🌱And steel (or bamboo) straws
Packing plastic-free as a parent
I reached out to some networks to find out how to reduce plastics in my life as a parent and I'm listing some of the recommended products and tips below here as related to travel:
🌱Stainless steel tumbler (instead of a sippie)
🌱Bamboo feeding set
🌱Stackable stainless steel containers for snacks
🌱Or biodegradable sandwich bags
🌱Glass baby bottles
🌱Bamboo Nature or Andy Pandy diapers (compostable)
10. Avoid overtourism
Join networks like Responsible Tourism Networking, Responsible Travel Bloggers, and the Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Writers Association to keep up with where to avoid and how to travel responsibly. There's millions of places to visit, avoid adding to the problem! 💫