When you head out for a vacation, the first thing on your mind isn’t usually “how can I be kinder to the earth during my trip,” but rather “I can’t wait to get going!!” On your next vacation or trip, follow along with these suggestions to reduce your impact, as travelling can actually be very harmful and not eco-friendly. If you do your part, you can offset or reduce your travelling footprint. Here are some ways you can reduce your travel impact!
Believe it or not, packing lighter actually reduces the amount of fuel needed for the plane. The more weight on a plane, the more fuel consumption. By only bringing a carryon bag, it reduces the amount of fuel needed and gases released into the air. This usually saves you money too, as checked baggage sometimes can be extra in cost. A good way to ditch the big luggage is by planning your outfits – if you’re going on a vacation for 7 days, plan for 7 outfits where some pieces can be worn multiple times with different pieces. Wearing your bulkiest items on the flight so they don’t take up the most room in your suitcase is also a space saver.
Book Direct Flights
The most fuel is emitted during take off and landing, so the least amount of these possible is better for emissions. Also, remember your own headphones instead of the single use ones that come in a plastic bag, and dress in layers so you don’t need a plane blanket and can remove/put on layers as your temperature changes.
Offset Your Emissions
Some airlines offer this option when buying tickets, but is not always super obvious. You can also take matters into your own hands and plant some trees. You can use a site like OneTreePlanted to plant some trees wherever you choose!
For boarding passes, tickets and itineraries, it’s easy enough now that you can use your phone to store these important items. There is no need to print them off, just to be thrown away after your flight or trip.
Airplane Snacks and Beverages
Pack zero waste snacks so you’re not tempted to buy snacks at the airport (which are normally overpriced anyways). Just make sure they conform to rules and regulations of customs and security. When the attendants come around with drinks, refuse the cup or ask for the whole can when given a complimentary beverage. Make sure you bring the cup/can off the plane with you to be recycled instead of throwing it in the communal garbage the flight attendants collect at the end of the flight.
At your destination, consider taking public transit like a bus or subway to visit attractions. This can be cheaper than renting a car or taking cabs/Ubers and has less of an impact on the environment.
If you have the option to drive, choose to drive instead of fly! Even though you are still emitting gases from your car, it is significantly less than the emissions of an airplane. Plus, if you’re travelling with friends or family, a road trip can be fun! You can also see a lot of cool sights over land.
If you are staying in a hotel, try to be conscious of reducing your impact in any way you can. This includes reusing your towels, turning off the TV, AC, and lights when you leave the room. Try to bring your own shampoo and conditioner for showering so you don’t have to use the wasteful mini bottles of toiletries.
Avoid Bottled Water
This can be harder in some places than others, but if your hotel has clean tap water, opt for a reusable water bottle instead of carrying around disposable plastic water bottles. Also make sure that everyone fills their water bottle before leaving for the day so you’re not running out of water sooner than you’d hope on any excursion.
Travelling normally means restaurants. Make sure to ask for your drink without a straw, and bring your own if you want one. Try not to order takeout or buy food that comes in plastic packaging. While travelling there are usually markets or shops that have local foods and goods to buy without plastic (use your reusable bags!)
Return or Refuse Brochures/Maps
We have phones that can take photos of these pieces of paper we would just end up throwing away. You can also just try finding the information online. This is a simple way to prevent waste. That being said – just because something is free, doesn’t mean you need to take it… especially if it is single use or disposable.
Turn Off Your Home
Since you won’t be home, there is no reason to leave your house “on.” Unplug ALL of your electronics, because even if they are turned off, they can still use electricity. Turn down your heating or AC (depending on what season it is). There is no reason to heat or cool your house if no one is in it, and you don’t have to spend money to do so.
If you travel with a backpack or tote, here are some essential things to travel with day to day to reduce waste on your trip and help the planet:
- Reusable straw
- Reusable utensils
- Reusable bag
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable ziplock bag (for restaurant leftovers or cool artifacts like shells)
- Zero waste homemade sunscreen or Zero waste homemade spray sunscreen