If you are a travel-addict, you may have given some thought to your travel footprint. Sustainable travel is actually all about making simple choices that will reduce your impact on your chosen destination. But it’s sometimes easier said than done! I have struggled with this myself and often get caught up in the ‘convenience’ excuse.
Some practical tips for being a more eco-friendly traveller:
1. Find a way to offset your carbon footprint
It’s impossible to omit ALL carbon emissions while travelling. But you could try to choose a tour company that offers trips that have limited their carbon footprint. You could also look for organisations that plant trees in your country of choice to offset your flight. Have a look at this fantastic organisation: GreenPop.
2. Pack lightly
The heavier the plane is, the higher the carbon emissions will be. Also, save your back and only pack what you absolutely need.
3. Avoid buying bottled water
Plastic water bottles account for tons of plastic waste. Many countries now offer filtered water at stores in towns as well as in hotels. Take a re-usable bottle with you on your next adventure (like the glass ones we provide our guests). If you have no choice, try to find a recycling bin for your plastic and other recyclable waste.
4. Keep the numbers low
A smaller group will have a much smaller environmental impact. So when you book a tour, look for a company that offers small-group tours. In this way, your experience will be more intimate and personalised as well!
5. Buy Local
If you want to buy some souvenirs, try look for locally made gifts rather than cheap imports (would you buy something made in China when you’re travelling through Italy? I think not.). Also choose fruit and veggies that are in season and locally produced. There are many restaurants in South Africa that serve only what they produce in their own vegetable garden!
6. Be mindful of everyday things
Take a quick shower instead of a bath. Turn the lights and aircon off when not necessary. Hang up towels that don’t need to be washed. These simple choices make a big difference.
7. Animals: Hands Off
This has become one of those non-negotiables when I travel. Do not take part in activities or support companies that exploit animals in any way. Taking photos with a chained cheetah or riding an elephant are big no-nos. If you do take part, you are supporting an industry that illegally captures, trades and abuses thousands of animals. And yes, that elephant whose back you’re scratching may currently be well fed and looked after. But, why is this wild animal willing to do tricks on demand? HOW would he have learnt that? Sometimes we need to think a little more deeply about such situations. Rather book a walking safari or a specialised tour (like a meerkat experience). It’s much more rewarding to see animals in the wild anyway!
8. Communities: Hands On
There are great organisations that give you the opportunity to give back. Pack for a Purpose is a global organisation which enables you to support local communities in your country of choice by packing basic supplies which they may need. You could also volunteer somewhere but do proper research before you make your final decision. A