Alright people, let’s talk about sustainable travel!
As most of us know, traveling can be one of the most positive, impactful, and eye-opening things you can do in life. We travel to learn about ourselves, about the world, and where we fit into this beautiful constellation. Yet the more I learn about sustainability and environmentalism, the more I ask myself, “How can I lower my impact on the planet while traveling?” Take a look at the ways you can introduce sustainable travel on your next trip.
1. Sleep sustainably.
- When choosing accommodation, opt for LEEDS certified hotels.
- Otherwise, support family-owned hotels or agroturismo, not AirBnb. AirBnb takes away from the local housing market and destroys communities because local residents cannot find affordable housing.
- If you must stay in a standard hotel, use the ‘Do not disturb’ sign so that housekeeping doesn’t change the towels daily.
- Don’t use hotel disposable liquid soaps and shampoos, as it’s a wasteful plastic product that will end up in a landfill forever.
2. Choose food wisely.
- When choosing restaurants, ask yourself how far your food has traveled to get to your plate.
- Instead of spending your money on chain restaurants while traveling, be adventurous and try out locally-owned restaurant. Ask locals about their favorite restaurants, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
- If you’re traveling within the U.S., the Monterey Bay Aquarium created a resource for choosing sustainably fished seafood called the Seafood Watch.
- Try eating a plant-based meal once a day.
- Learning about how you can support the health of the planet through your diet is empowering and straight-forward. Try it for yourself! Plus, what better way to get to know a new place than to try their freshest produce or veggies.
3. Consume consciously.
- Are your souvenirs made in China? What’s up with that? Shopping local involves a little bit of research and curiosity, which is what the conscious traveler is all about! Ask questions. Get to know locals.
- For example, when in Portugal, find the best ceramic tile maker in town. Watch them as they create a gorgeous masterpieces and then buy it for your home. What a beautiful way to support artists AND bring the memory back home.
4. Think eco-friendly with transportation.
- Direct flights are better than taking multiple connecting flights. Take-off and landing use the most fuel during a flight, so minimize this through direct flights and once you land, choose a different mode of transportation.
- When flying, reduce the impact by offsetting carbon footprint. A couple of good options are here and here.
- Check for flights with the least CO2 emissions.
- Avoid flying altogether if possible. This would truly help with sustainable travel goals! Opt for a train or bus instead.
- Walking or biking is the most sustainable mode of transport! Plus, you can get to know the places you’ve visiting even better because you’re taking your time, slowly seeing what’s around.
5. Buy a reusable water bottle.
- If you’re traveling to a developed country, travel with your own refillable water bottle. Plastic EarthDay.org reports that collectively, people buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute. Can you believe that? And only about 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S. Let’s change that statistic!
- Avoid single-use plastic as much as you can.
6. Bring a food storage container.
- Don’t get caught in the painful situation where you’re hungry and excited for food, but the restaurant only provides plastic utensils and styrofoam to-go boxes. Most other to-go boxes contain a plastic wax on the inside to keep the food from leaking through. Be prepared for whatever comes your way when you’re on the go. Use reusable food containers!
- Only 6% of plastics are recycled, and styrofoam cannot be recycled, which means it’s left to sit in the landfills or worse, finds its way into the ocean or natural environment. Just because we throw it away and never see it again doesn’t mean it simply disappears.
7. Carry reusable eating utensils with you.
- Plastic bags and eating utensils are deadly to marine life because they mistake it as food. The most susceptible are turtles, seals, and birds.
8. Add a reusable bag to your packing list.
- I constantly find great use of my reusable bag while on the road. It’s one of the most useful items on my packing list. That way, you’re never left having to use a plastic bag.
- Beach day, grocery bag, dirty clothes storage…there are so many ways to use a reusable bag when traveling the world.
Traveling sustainably is the new travel. At Lotus Compass, we truly believe this. Do you have any sustainable travel tips to add to this list? Let us know! And please share this article so that more people can learn how to travel sustainably. With these simple steps, we are redefining travel to be more aligned with the planet, and that, my friends, is worth celebrating!