Reduce Your Environmental Impact When you Travel
The term 'Green Travel' probably makes you think of unshaven men in bad tracksuit pants taking a month long holiday in a treehouse. But green travel is nothing that drastic, in fact it doesnt even involve much in the way of sacrifice- all it is is a bit of effort into preserving the environment around you when you travel. And with one billion tourists gallivanting around the globe each year, its becoming imperative that as the individual we go the little extra distance to contributing positively to slowing down climate change. Green travel is also about tuning yourself into the local culture of your holiday destination, respecting the way of life there and positively inputting into the community. So what have we got to do to be a green traveller? Well Ive scoured the net and put together a few ideas- you'll be surprised at how easy it is. Lets make 'Green Travel' more than just the latest buzz word.
  1. Firstly, when you fly anywhere make sure you offset the carbon emissions of your flight. This is done by paying a minimal amount to a carbon offset company, normally less than fifty bucks.
  2. Most carbon is emitted when planes take off and land. Take a 'no flight holiday', or reduce your stopovers.
  3. Pack as light as you can - the lower the weight of the plane, the lower the energy it requires.
  4. Ensure you have shut down all the appliances in your house that use electricity, such as the central heating.
  5. Try to reduce the amount of driving you do. Catch public transport to the airport. When you hire a car, choose the smallest engine possible or a hybrid if available. Walk or cycle where you can!
  6. When choosing a hotel, check out their water treatment system- avoid ones that pump their effluent out to sea.
  7. Also try and choose a hotel that is locally owned and run. Make sure the staff employed are from the local community, and not foreigners. There should be some element of 'giving back' to the local community.
  8. There are eco-friendly hotels out there, you just need to find them. look for energy efficient lighting, solar power units, and toilets and showers with flow restrictions.
  9. Go easy on the air con! Only use it if really necessary, and turn it off when you go out. Try save water too- short showers, no baths, turning taps off.
  10. Dont get room service- head out to a local restaurant. This way you sample the local culture, support the local economy and take the pressure off the hotel resources.
  11. Dont make coffee in your hotel room. This leaves waste in the form of sugar packets, plastic milk containers, plastic teaspoons etc. Head out to the local coffee shop instead!
  12. If given the choice, use glass cups or mugs and not plastic ones. Less waste.
  13. Unless you ask them not to, your sheets and towels will be washed every day. This isnt really necessary and is a waste of resources, so leave that 'do not disturb' sign up.
  14. Turn off any unused lights!
  15. Bring your own toiletries instead of using the little plastic, packaged ones in the hotel. If you do use them, take them home and re use them.
  16. If you are going on a tour, choose smaller ones because their impact on the environment is not so severe.
  17. Make sure your tour guide is local, and find out how the tour gives back to the community.
  18. If its a hiking tour youre on, dont veer off the marked trails and disrupt as little vegetation as possible. Give the local wildlife its space.
  19. When snorkelling or scuba diving dont touch the coral, or try and interfere with the marine life.
  20. Do a bit of homework about the traditions and cultures of the local peole in the area you are visiting. Be sensitive to dress and behaviour codes. For instance skirts of a certain length may be acceptable in some parts of the world, but in others they would be considered too short.
  21. Learn a few words of the local language. This helps you bond with the people you interact with and is always appreciated by locals.

    So there you have it - travelling green isnt going to kill you. Every little bit helps, so even if we can remember to do just a few of the things on this list we are going some way to benefiting the planet. So take it all on board and enjoy your green holiday!

    Gavin Wyatt