Tips for Travelling Sustainably
I am a hypocrite. I will start this blog post with that statement so that there is no argument, no question, no need to remind me that what I do for work is inherently not sustainable. I know. I stand on my soap box and preach about reducing single use plastics and brands that use recycled plastic pulled from the ocean to create beautiful swimwear (I am looking at you Londrë). All the while I am standing in line to check in for a flight to another continent or fueling up the car for yet another road trip across the continent - certainly either of which will cause a single straw or a plastic bag from the grocery store to be a laughable offence. And yet, here I am, back atop that soap box with a few really easy ways to reduce your impact if you’re a CEO flying to another city for business, if you’re heading out on a girls (or guys) trip for the weekend or, if your life is filled with travel that is both business and pleasure.
1.Purchase the most direct flight financially possible & fly economy
According to a report from NASA, 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing, taking off, and taxiing. You can also help counteract your flight by buying carbon offset credits, but make sure the program you donate to is credible- meaning verified by a third party. And opt out of printed boarding passes whenever possible.
Heading out on a road trip: Enter the make & model of your vehicle, plus the number of kilometres driven into this calculator it will convert the metric tons of emissions into a dollar amount to offset your carbon footprint.
Heading to the airport: Some airlines allow you to offset this as part of the booking process. If not, enter your flight and number and passengers to calculate your carbon emissions on an offset site such as this one. You are then given options of projects to donate this money to that align with your values. A small but simple way to make a difference.
2. Pick a centralized hotel for your trips and Opt out of daily fresh sheets and towels
Checking in and out of a new hotel every night, although it might be slightly more convenient, forces the hotel/hostel/airbnb to do a thorough clean of the room, by choosing one central location for your trip you are cutting out all of the unnecessary cleaning and laundering. As an added bonus, this will likely help you to slow down your travel and immerse yourself in the culture.
3. put your purchasing power behind sustainability
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Making a conscious decision to shop with sustainable and ethical brands when you’re preparing for a trip can and will make a difference. A large number of brands are now boasting their sustainability on their websites and social channels, you can also check out sites such B-Corp, Good on You, Ethical Consumer and Rank a Brand as a starting point to see where your favourite brands line up.
Some of my favourite brands to put my money behind are below.
4. Hydrate with a reusable water bottle and coffee cup
Although it certainly is mildly annoying to have to remember to pack your mug and water bottle, tote them around with you, and then (and this is where my lack of short term memory fails me) remember to clean them. But it also means that you are always hydrated and, your water will stay colder and your coffee will stay warmer substantially longer. I am also in the habit of requesting my flight attendant use my mug for my onboard coffee or drinks - I had not, until I was on a flight writing this, had that request denied. The irony is not lost on me.
There are a ton of great options out there, I like to think that the best product is the one you already have. But i you are in the market though, I personally choose MiiR - not only do they have really great products but they also have an amazing sustainability platform that you can read about here and here and even here. As an added bonus their camp cup fits a cupcake quite nicely.
5. Pack snacks without packaging and bring a reusable utensil with you
I am always hungry (hangry) and so this one is easy for me - if I pack everything I want to eat on the journey to my destination in reusable packaging, I am able to keep using it while I am there. Some cool products out include:
This set of Reusable Silicone Bags for snacks
Bring a canvas tote bag for grocery and snack runs while you travel or for anything you may pick up along the way.
6. Use mineral, not chemical, sunscreen
A few great options for reef-safe sunscreens (thanks Chelsea for this info) are:
7.Ditch the straw
while you’re there
8. Leave each place better than you found it
Pick up the piece of garbage you see on the side of the side of the trail. Hold on to your recyclables or compostables until you see a proper receptacle instead of tossing them in the nearest trash bin. Join a beach cleanup - this is also a great way to meet likeminded friends on your travels. Do research on where you are going and what sustainability means there, have conversations with people. Just because it isn’t your back yard does not mean it is not your responsibility to protect it.
9. Speak up
If you don’t see a recycling bin, ask the hotel concierge about it. When you see people littering on the beach, kindly point them to the nearest trash bin. If you’re hounded by a tour agent who wants to sell you an elephant ride, explain why it’s important to you to be kind to the planet and its wildlife.
It’s okay to ask questions and compliment the sustainable practices you witness. I am no stranger to embarrassing my friends on this front or to writing emails to corporations I believe can and should be doing better. We can all be part of the solution.
And remember, always show compassion when broaching these conversations. We are all at different places in our journey and there is a big difference between calling someone out and calling them in - and the latter is far more effective.
To the person who uses metal straws to save fish but consumes animals, I’d like to say thank you. To the vegan who isn’t aware of our homelessness problem, thank you. To the climate change activists who aren’t attentive to fast fashion, thank you. To the girl who gives her old clothes to the disadvantaged but isn’t educated on sex trafficking, thank you. To the guy who picks up rubbish on his way home from a surf but isn’t well-informed about male suicide rates, thank you. To the people who stand up for horse racing concerns but are uninformed of the cruelty of the dairy industry, thank you. To the positive Instagram influencer who hasn’t cultivated a plastic-free lifestyle, thank you. To the grandparents who knit for sick children but aren’t up to date with current race and homophobic issues, thank you. To the students that stand up for bullying but are unaware of the constant domestic violence epidemic, thank you.
To the peace activists, feminists, animal adopters, teachers, volunteers, foster carers, recyclers, givers, doers and believers, I say thank you.
We are all on a different path and we all see through different eyes. Current world issues that you are passionate about, aren’t always what other people are trying to change… and that’s okay.
It’s not everyone’s job to save every part of the world but it is everyone’s responsibility to thank every person who is doing THEIR part to save the world. Don’t critic, just appreciate. Don’t judge, just educate. We’re all trying our best.
*Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission on any purchase made - at no additional cost to you. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!