Traveling Responsibly: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Touring the world can be a great way to reinforce your commitment to sustainable living.
You can walk through the world’s lung in the Amazon or spend an afternoon following the trails of endangered animals as they travel across the Serengeti. It’s one thing to watch a webcam of the wild, it’s another thing entirely to experience it.
Unfortunately, traveling can be expensive for the planet. Profits, not conservation, helped make the tourism industry what it was today. While this is changing, we can reduce the impact our travels have with just a few simple changes. These smart decisions will help protect the earth even as we traverse it.
Before Leaving On Your Trip
Conservation starts before you even leave your home. Unless you live completely off grid, your house or apartment will continue drawing energy even though you’re not there. Be sure to unplug all the appliances or switch off any circuit breakers. Even while off, many electronic devices will continue to draw power.
Reduce your heat to a level that will keep the pipes from freezing during the winter, and it’s a good idea to shut off the water in your home completely. If you have air conditioning, it might be tempting to shut it off completely, but this can lead to excess humidity, which can damage your furniture and flooring. Setting it to 84 degrees will allow it to remove excess moisture without keeping your empty home unnecessarily cool.
Adopting these habits will not only minimize your carbon footprint, but help you manage your energy bill.
Choosing Better Transportation
Once you arrive at your destination, the transportation you choose to get around can have a noticeable impact on the local environment. Thankfully, the best option for the world is also the healthiest of your: your feet. Some destinations might not be within walking distance, but you should try to walk whenever possible. Not only will this help you keep exhaust fumes to a minimum, but it will help you see things that many tour trips would otherwise drive past
It’s important to take care of your feet while traveling. You’ll want to pick up a pair of lightweight orthotic shoes if you don’t already own some. While sandals might be a great choice for the beach, you’ll want something with a little more support if you plan on exploring beyond the paved streets and well-marked trails
For those times where you have to use a bus or car, try to plan your excursions so that you visit everything of interest before taking the trip back. This way, you won’t waste fuel going to the same location several times during your trip.
Making Greener Travel Choices
Travel isn’t the only thing that can impact the environment. At home, you have your routine down, but when you head out, it’s easy to forget yourself in the everyday luxury of living abroad.
If you’re staying at a hotel, make arrangements with the staff so that they don’t change your sheets every evening. Most hotels will switch out everything every day unless you tell them otherwise to maintain a clean feeling in each room. While nothing quite compares to the smell of freshly washed sheets, forgoing it will mean substantial energy savings.
When planning your meals, avoid ordering takeout since landfills are one of humanity’s universal conditions. Whether you are away from home or not, shopping locally when you can is a great way to make your carbon footprint smaller.
When you eat at a local restaurant, you’re doing more than simply getting a “more authentic” feel for the culture. These family owned shops typically source their offerings from nearby farms, which means less fuel spent on transportation. Where diners built with tourists in mind will often feature garish disposable packaging, smaller shops will often prefer reusable stoneware.
Most travel guides will recommend that you stick to bottled water while traveling abroad. This is to help protect your from bacteria that it is unaccustomed to. Nothing is worse than finally going on vacation just to spend most of the trip feeling sick. Plastic bottles can be recycled but more often than not they end up in a landfill. Consider picking a reusable water bottle with filtration, such as the LifeStraw, to protect your stomach while respecting the environment.
Another crucial way to be environmentally responsible as you travel is to consider how the activities you participate in affects the environment. Jet skiing, four wheeling and safari tours can be a lot of fun but they’re also damaging to the local environment. Swimming, hiking and similar activities are a healthier alternative for you and the local ecosystem.
Finding local attractions that support green living is another eco-friendly way to stay entertained. Many popular destinations feature low-impact tourism options as a growing number of travelers become aware of how their trips affect the world around them.
With just a few simple changes, you can go a long way towards reducing the impact your trip has on the environment, but what if you could eliminate you carbon footprint?
Tree, algae and other plants naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere, replacing it with life-giving oxygen. Ideally, you could plant a few trees before every trip, but this is a time consuming process, one that requires easy access to arable land. Luckily, numerous organizations you can donate to will do it for you. The Conservation Fund’s “Go Zero” campaign is a great place to support. They have carbon-offset projects and their efforts are slowly restoring America’s forests.
Traveling responsibly is a great way to experience the world you’re trying to protect, giving you a much-needed vacation while reinvigorating your commitment towards healthy living. Before jumping on that plane, challenge yourself to adopt at least one healthy traveling habit. Not only will this help the environment, but you’ll find yourself enjoying your trip just a little more as you realize the impact such a small impact can make.