While we love to travel every chance we get, we do think about what damage we inflict on the environment at the same time. From energy use in transportation to all of the disposable products to food we waste, it’s hard not to have a negative impact. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few easy things you can do to minimize any harmful effect on the environment and make that one less thing you have to worry about…
The biggest thing I can tell you is to be a conscious traveler. Now, I’m not saying to let being a good environmental steward consume your once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Italy. You can still have fun and a relaxing trip, just be aware of things like how many sets of plastic silverware you are using and then throwing in the non-recycled trash and why you need to have clean towels everyday in your hotel room…
Easy To Implement Going Green Travel Tips
- Prepare your own toiletries. While many hotels have sustainability practices these days with such things as not supplying travel size products but using refillable shampoo, many others don’t. Either carry your own in reusable bottles or research the hotel’s policy before you go.
- Don’t buy disposable products. Think of what you can bring that’s your own, like headphones, rather than purchasing the disposables on the plane.
- Don’t take “stuff” because its free. This goes from newspapers that you’ll never read to free headphones that accumulate in your carry-on bag. While I used to just take a pair as they were handed out, I know reuse the multiple pairs I already have and politely refuse adding to my collection. While it’s hard to resist getting something free, try hard!
- Go paperless from travel documents to paper receipts to paper magazines and books.
- Know that only a few airlines have in-flight recycle programs, like Alaska and United. Many initiatives followed a 2010 report by nonprofit Green America that graded most with a D or F. There has been no follow-up since then to know how they’re faring. So, it’s best to use in-flight products sparingly and even get rid of your trash off the plane. You can always ask the flight attendants what their policy is on board or find out when you book.
- Offset your carbon footprint. Remember when this was a big thing talked about a few years back. I used to do this around 2008 when I traveled on Virgin Atlantic, but they were the only airlines I knew of that offered this option. I haven’t offset my travel since then. So, I checked to see if it’s still a viable program and it is. There are companies like Native Energy in Vermont and Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) where you can purchase offsets. The money goes to projects like clearwater and planting trees in impoverished countries such as Nicaragua and Uganda.
- Travel light and go carry-on when possible. The heavier the cargo the more energy used, plus you’re less apt to bring things or take things home that you just don’t need.
- Turn off lights in your hotel room when not using.
- Don’t have your hotel linens changed everyday. Some have policies about this and will leave cards in the room, but many either do not or don’t actually follow their own policy.
- Watch the thermostat. There’s no need to freeze yourself out.
- Use paper/disposble products sparingly.
- Think about what you buy as souvenirs. Don’t buy anything just to buy that you will either throw away when you get home or it will sit in a drawer until you throw it away.
- Bring your own reusable water bottle and bags for shopping.
- Try and eat and drink as local as possible. Eating local helps decrease the impact of having to transport food. And watch your use of disposable items like plastic silverware – keep a set, clean, and reuse – and styrofoam packaging.
- Walk as much as you can or take public transportation.
So, we hope by following these EASY tips you still enjoy your travels while being kind to the environment.
What green tips do you follow when you travel?
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.