When we travel, we are reminded of the world’s astonishing diversity of cultures, landscapes, and people. And while travel broadens our horizons and introduces us to new experiences, it can sometimes come at an environmental and societal cost. While car rides and airplane flights are unavoidable necessities for arriving at your destination, there are many green-thinking measures you can take to offset those trips. And as far as showing the proper respect and care to the locations that you visit, a little foresight goes a long way.
Follow these tips to make your next journey a more sustainable one.
Take public transportation instead of cabs whenever possible.
Start at home. If you’re leaving town for a few weeks, make sure to "turn off" your home.
- Shut off lights and unplug appliances
- Turn off (or at least turn down) heat
- Consider suspending newspaper delivery and signing up for paperless billing to mitigate unnecessary paper
Go green and local. During your trip, there are myriad ways to reduce your environmental footprint.
- Walk, rent a bicycle, or use public transportation when available, rather than hailing a cab
- Refuse plastic bags, straws, and utensils; avoid Styrofoam containers; and use a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing plastic bottles
- When snacking, choose local fruits over packaged chips or the like
- Bring a reusable tote bag to carry purchases
- In your hotel, hang towels that can be used more than once, turn lights and air conditioning off when you go out, and use water sparingly when bathing and brushing teeth
- Also, look for bamboo toothbrushes (rather than plastic) and consider solid shampoos and soaps over gels packaged in plastic
- Support local merchants over larger stores
Choosing public transit or rental bikes over cabs will lower your carbon footprint.
Pack light, and use offsets. Many airlines participate in carbon offset programs, and you can too.
Planting trees helps offset your carbon emissions.
Educate yourself. Responsible travel doesn’t end with being environmentally friendly.
- Read and learn about the local language, customs, and values. Even if your accent marks you as a tourist, the use of a few pleasantries in the local tongue will show your respect for your destination.
- Do some research on customs and social norms to avoid making a foreign faux pas. The folks you meet along your journey will recognize your respect for their ways of life.
Ask questions. Take advantage of your tour director’s local perspective.
- Ask your TD what measures you can take to travel responsibly, and if there are any other ways to support the destinations you’re visiting
- Inquire about any questionable item before buying - you don't want to support merchants who are creating their wares through unethical practices, or whose goods are illegally traded
- When dining on your own, try to choose local foods and meat that is raised in an environmentally friendly manner. If in doubt, as your server!
Seddik Aassim, one of our Moroccan tour directors
Donate. Your time, money, and effort can help make the world a better place.
- Consider supporting carbon offset and tree-planting projects (previously mentioned)
- Pledge your time to local environmental activism causes
- If a particular charity or project strikes your fancy while traveling, ask your tour director about the best way to help them out
We hope these tips help you make your next journey a bit more responsible and sustainable!
Photos: 1 2