August 29th, 2017
It's no secret that we're on the tipping point of irreversible change to our planet as we know it. The earth has never seen such rapid, human-led change; and it's difficult to predict what the world will look like for future generations.
Our generation is becoming more environmentally minded, with young people rallying for change and sustainable practice. The trouble is, everything we do leaves an imprint, especially when it comes to travel. Completely sustainable travel is almost impossible, unless perhaps you have oodles of time (and patience). But that shouldn't stop you! Here's my top five list of things you can do to travel eco-consciously, from my own recent experiences:
1. Cut out disposable plastics
The plastic pollution crisis is huge, and millions of tonnes of our plastic waste is single-use, disposable items. Straws, cutlery, take-out boxes, coffee cups, bags and so on. The list is huge, but it is possible to avoid them when travelling. Don't get a plastic straw with every cocktail you sip on the beach, take your own travel mug and ask vendors to fill that instead, have a couple of tote bags handy for grocery shopping. With a little bit of forward planning, it can be very easy to cut disposables from your travels.
2. Minimise air travel
It may sound obvious, but the carbon footprint of air travel is massive. Obviously, to get from Europe to South America, for example, it will be pretty difficult without an aeroplane! But for local travel, or travel between neighbouring countries: use shared transport. Do proper research into buses, trains, or car-shares with like-minded travelers, and so on. (Just make sure to use reputable companies and make sure you're as safe as possible!) Plan enough time into your schedule for travel and rest days. Not only is it better for the planet but you experience so much of those places on the way. Don't forget, traveling is not about just A and B; but all those places inbetween.
3. Buy a filtering water bottle
I cannot stress this enough: a filtering water bottle is an absolute essential for any traveler. Not only is it super convenient to be able to fill your bottle from a stream whilst on a trek, but the environmental impact of bottled water is huge, and you'll be withdrawing yourself from that industry completely. No more dependence on disposable plastic bottles: good for the planet and saves you some valuable cash!
4. Eat local produce
When you're in a foreign country, don't head for the nearest fast food chain. Immerse yourself in the culture by tasting the local cuisine. It will provide a much richer experience of your chosen destination, and you can eat guilt-free, knowing that the transportation of your food hasn't left a huge dent in the environment. Of course, as with any food when you're traveling: don't eat anything that looks questionable, and make sure you have the relevant medication for any tummy-troubles you might encounter!
5. Challenge non-sustainable practices
Finally, don't be afraid to challenge what you see. Sustainability is key for evolving local tourism, especially as the places that draw us in the most are those of natural beauty or cultural significance, which must be preserved. Stay well-informed of global issues, how they can be tackled on a local level, and share this knowledge with those you meet. For example, if you're travelling by the ocean and notice the local bars and hostels use plastic straws: highlight the damage that these plastics can do to their local marine environments, and provide viable alternative ideas, such as paper straws. Your suggestions won't always be met with open arms, as change often raises red flags (!), but don't let that stop you from trying.
The world is beautiful, and it's no wonder that so many of us have complete wanderlust. If we work hard, and work together, we can try to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same.
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