By Briana Seftel
Traveling is wonderful for the mind, body and soul - but it isn’t always kind to the environment. Here are ten easy tips to travel more sustainably. Planet Earth will thank you!
Bring reusable bottles and bags
Bringing your own reusable bottle is one of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly on vacation. Instead of buying one plastic water bottle after another, pack your own light reusable bottle (we love this one and this one) and fill ‘er up at the nearest fountain. If you’re worried about drinking tap water, you can buy a water purification device like a LifeStraw or purchase a bottle with a built-in filter. Aside from bottles, bringing one or two reusable bags (this Baggu bag is light and a cinch to pack) is great for when you inevitably go shopping. Say “no thanks” to plastic waste!
Skip the taxis
Carbon emissions from airplanes are one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and there’s no way around it. To reduce your carbon footprint, consider taking public transportation instead of taxis. Not only will you avoid all those nasty emissions, but you’ll experience more of the local life by taking the subway, bus or tram. Another super eco-friendly option is the good ‘ole bicycle. Many major cities nowadays have bike share programs that make it easy and quick to rent a bike for a few hours or a full day. When in doubt, walk!
Not only is packing light easier for you, it’s better for the environment. The lighter the plane, the less fuel it has to use, and the less greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Who really wants to lug a heavy suitcase, anyway? For tips on how to pack smart, click here.
Bonus tip: Planes produce the most emissions during takeoffs and landings, so choose a non-stop flight if you can.
Treat your hotel room like your home
We know, we know. Staying in a hotel isn’t like living in your home, but that doesn’t mean you should take advantage of its services. To help make your stay more eco-friendly, decline daily housekeeping, reuse your towels and sheets, turn off all lights and unplug electronics before heading out for the day. Whether or not your hotel practices being green, taking these steps will ensure a cleaner, better environment.
This one’s pretty obvious, but many travelers forget to recycle when traveling. Look for specially marked trash cans when you’re out and about and make sure to know your hotel’s recycle policy. If your hotel doesn’t recycle, find the nearest recycling facility or take items home with you to recycle when you get back.
Clean water is a precious commodity, and in some destinations, in very short supply. When traveling, keep your showers short and shut off the water while brushing your teeth.
Stay on well-marked paths
We know it may be tempting to go on the path less traveled, but hear us out. Straying from well-marked paths can be detrimental to the local plant life and wildlife. Definitely not cool. If you’re going on a hike, make sure you stay on track. Don’t litter and do not feed or engage with wild animals - no matter how cute they may appear!
Use an eco-friendly tour operator
Tours that respect the environment and local community are the way to go. Before you book, ask about group size (smaller groups tend to make less of an environmental impact), whether the tours are led by locals and how the tour operator gives back to the community. Not only will you be helping the planet, but you're more likely getting a more thorough and authentic tour.
Shop and dine local
Shopping and eating locally brings money straight to the community, supports the local economy and minimizes the costs of transporting goods and food. Look for restaurants serving local, seasonal and sustainable food and head to the nearest market to buy souvenirs. When purchasing souvenirs, don’t buy anything made from endangered plants or animals.
Don’t touch coral while diving or snorkeling
About 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, so chances are you’ll encounter a lake, river or ocean on your vacation. If you plan on diving or snorkeling, don’t touch the coral and try not to disturbe the marine life. Avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate or 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, as even a small amount can cause coral bleaching. Try this brand!