We are travelling more than ever before, and it has become increasingly easy and accessible to jet off somewhere new and exciting. However, as our climate crisis intensifies, the spotlight has fallen more onto the topic of sustainable travel. International tourism accounts for around 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Unsurprisingly, travel is the biggest contributor to this figure. So, what can you do to travel more sustainably? We have put together a list of tips which can help our planet have a bit of a break too.
1: Choose your airline with care
Air travel is a significant contributor to C02 emissions. Additionally, global demand for flights is growing rapidly. If we continue at our current pace, analysts predict that emissions from air travel will increase by up to 7x by 2050. Of course, it goes without saying that skipping on the air travel altogether and opting for an alternative transport method like boat or train is the best solution. However, when this is not a possibility, supporting airlines with eco-friendly policies can make a difference. Airfrance-KLM has attempted to address the detrimental effects of flying by reducing their fuel useage and implementing a reforestation project in Panama. They have even encouraged passengers to use train travel when possible and replace face to face meetings with video calls. Cathay Pacific has also taken significant steps to help with C02 emissions, including fleet modernisation, air traffic management to avoid unnecessary fuel waste, and electric vehicle trials. Lastly, flying non-stop helps to minimise the fuel emissions associated with take off and landing.
2: Reduce plastic usage
The world produces an incredible amount of plastic annually, 381 million tonnes to be precise– this is set to double by 2034. 50% of this is single-use plastic & only 9% has ever been recycled. So, it comes as no surprise with these types of figures that cutting down on plastic consumption is a huge factor to consider if travelling sustainably. Reusable items are key, think reusable water bottles, tote bags, and limiting toiletries with all-purpose soap. Some options are to refill reusable water bottles at your accommodation, or even invest in a filter water bottle which creates safe drinking water anywhere. Use portable travel water purifier devices such as SteriPEN (it uses a UV light to destroy 99.9% of bacteria) or a filter system like LifeStraw. Water purifying tablets are another option.
3: Live like a local
By enjoying local produce and not eating food that has a number of air miles associated with it, you can help with C02 emissions. Buying handmade souvenirs and products from small local businesses means helps the local community thrive, as well as enable you to immerse yourself in the local culture. Avoid chain restaurants, airport gift shops and large shopping centres where possible.
4: Leave your phone behind
It is a relatively unknown fact that cloud storage is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Just think about the huge amount of power required to fuel and cool down data centres 24/7. Cloud storage is set to soon overtake the aviation industry when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. When using phones abroad, cloud usage and storage usually increases due to photo-taking and sharing. If this is something you can’t live without, switching off your apps to minimise downloads and charging needs can make some difference.
5: Research your accommodation
When choosing your accommodation, keep an eye out for places that respect the environment. Local guesthouses are often better than newly-built resorts. If you plan to stay in a hotel, choose one that holds itself to high environmental standards. These should be certified by a third party, such as Rainforest Alliance or the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Finding a property with a local owner as opposed to a large corporation can help ensure profits remain in the local community.
6: Rethink your packing
Where possible hold back from buying a holiday wardrobe. Fast fashion has quickly risen to become one of the worst offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, around 300,000 tonnes of clothing is sent to landfill each year. The fashion industry’s emissions are now higher than aviation and shipping combined. A number of fast fashion items bought are holiday wear, intended for a short use and often discarded after the holiday is over. Buying items that are likely to last longer will help to slow down the frightening growth rate of fast fashion and in turn help our planet.