Our Top 5 Eco-Travel Tips for Your Next Vacation
1. Pack Light and Research Your Travel Options
Packing light is great because you won’t be carrying around a heavy suitcase for your entire trip. Additionally, packing light helps save CO2 emissions. The lighter your airplane or train is, the less gas it will use, reducing the emissions it will produce. Packing light and wearing multiple items twice will save you laundry costs and water too.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, airplanes will generate 43 gigatonnes of pollution contributing to global warming by 2050. Currently, airplane travel accounts for approximately 11% of CO2 emissions from public transport in the United States. Airplane emissions, including vapor trails, are harmful to the environment, but not as long-lasting as car emissions. Booking a non-stop flight will also help to reduce your travel impact, as takeoff and landing create the most emissions.
Driving across the country instead of flying will almost double your emissions. CO2 from car exhaust is also deadly to the environment, as car emissions will stay in the atmosphere for decades. Riding the train will cut your transportation CO2 emissions in half compared to flying in a plane, if the train is at least 60% full.
If you have the option, pick a more environmentally friendly way of traveling, opt for public transportation options, or try to offset your environmental impact from flying by going green in other ways.
2. Refuse single use plastic items
Say no to plastic bags at the grocery store, plastic water bottles and other single use plastic items. Instead of opting for plastic shopping bags, bring a reusable tote bags with you wherever you go. Not only will the tote act as a convenient bag for groceries, souvenirs and travel necessities, it will also replace thousands of plastic bags when traveling and when not traveling. Bring your Gallant International custom tote bags, made from 100% organic cotton and manufactured at a Fair Trade Certified factory.
Instead of grabbing those tempting water bottles in your hotel room, bring your own refillable one. If you are going to a country where the tap water is not drinkable, bring a water bottle with a filter or add your own charcoal filter.
Opt to bring toiletries in reusable bottles or bring zero waste toiletries and skip the travel isle at the drugstore. By bringing your own toiletries, you’ll be saving loads of tiny plastic bottles. If you do use the hotel’s provided toiletries, make sure to take them with you and reuse the bottles for future travel.
Here are some of our favorite zero waste toiletry ideas:
· A Bamboo Toothbrush (Try Brush with Bamboo! https://www.brushwithbamboo.com)
· Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
· Body Wash bar (or you can use your hotel’s)
· Compostable Dental Floss (Try Dental Lace! https://www.dentallace.com)
3. Turn off and Save energy
While in your hotel or Airbnb, make sure to conserve energy and turn off all items before leaving for the day.
Before leaving every morning, make sure you have turned off:
· All lights, including porch/balcony lights, bathroom, bedroom and living room lights
· AC/Heat Unit
· Television, and any other electronics
· Unplug any unnecessary items. Don’t forget that items plugged in, put not in use, are still using electricity.
If your room tends to get hot during the day, keep the curtains and blinds closed to keep out the heat.
If you are staying in a hotel, place the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room’s door. By using this sign, your room will not be cleaned, saving chemical cleaning agents, electricity from vacuuming and energy used in washing linens and cleaning rags.
Make sure to reuse your bathroom towels as well. You wouldn’t wash your towels at home every day, so there is no reason for you to need daily fresh towels while traveling. Reusing your bathroom towels can help hotels save up to 50% more water than if guests wish to receive fresh towels daily. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, yearly, a 200 room hotel with 60% of its guests reusing towels, can save more than 1,000,000 gallons of water per year.
4. Buy Local
Choose to support local chefs, farmers, brewers and producers by eating and drinking locally. This allows you to authentically experience a new cuisine while directly supporting the local economy. Go out of your comfort zone to try a new local food, street food or a locally brewed beer, chances are, you won’t regret it!
Purchase locally made souvenirs as well. Many countries unfortunately import souvenirs from around the globe, which are most likely unethically made and unauthentic. Stop at stores with local vendors and support their work instead.
Don’t buy from anyone exploiting wildlife. Don’t purchase any illegal animal products or purchase any activities that include poor treatment of animals. If you wish to see animals native to your travel region, research conservation or rehabilitation programs that you may tour or volunteer at.
5. Support Sustainable Hotels and Businesses
Many hotels are transparent about their energy and water usage. If you are staying in a hotel, look for LEED Certified hotels. LEED, also known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the most common green building rating system.
Under LEED, buildings must:
· Be in a permanent location on existing land (artificial land masses are prohibited)
· Must use reasonable LEED Boundries
· Must comply with LEED’s project size requirements
Read more about LEED here: https://new.usgbc.org/minimum-program-requirements-leed
There are many programs similar to LEED that keep developers and architects accountable for their environmental footprint when designing and building commercial or residential buildings.
Ask your hotel what they personally do for the environment as well. Ask them if they use low-flow toilets, have a recycling and compost program, and encourage guests to practice sustainability. If they don’t, use the hotel’s comment card to encourage them to take a stand and make an eco-friendly impact.
If you are staying in an Airbnb, do your research before booking. Many Airbnb’s are technically unlawfully run, without building management, or city official’s approval. Consider renting from an Airbnb host who is renting extra space in their home or one who is following all property and city guidelines. Avoid renting from hosts who rent many properties just to make a profit. Additionally, when staying in an Airbnb, remember that the community around you is most likely not tourists, so be courteous, quiet and kind to locals living next to you at all times.
Most importantly during travel, have fun exploring and enjoy the culture! Remember to be respectful to the Earth, eco-systems and locals while globetrotting.