How To Offset Your Ecological Footprint While Traveling
Many of us love to explore new places and cultures. And meet more people. But are we traveling sustainably? With more travelers each year, the global carbon footprint was increasing pre-pandemic. It’s time we hit the reset button and rethink how we travel.
Here are a few things to bear in mind before you book that trip to your favorite destination.
Don’t pack plastics
Plastic is made from planet-warming fuels, and it’s what adds up to global warming and affects marine and wildlife. Did you know that out of 8.3 billion metric tons, only 9% of plastic is recycled? The recycling rate of plastics in Australia was around 11.5% in 2019. While the number was higher than previous years, it did underscore that a lot of work remains to be done.
To minimize the impact, you make when it comes to plastics, you need to step up when packing. Start with reusable containers and bottles. Take your collection of shopping bags, so you don’t have to get single-use bags when you’re traveling.
And rather than buying little shampoo and conditioners and other travel comforts, get some empty bottles you can use over and over again. Other reusable and eco-friendly items you should consider packing include:
- Small containers.
- Reusable straws.
- Sanitary products.
- Kindle, rather than books.
- Reef-safe sunscreen without oxybenzone.
- Biodegradable soap.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on plastic immediately is by using something like the LifeStraw water filter bottle. This bottle filters water so well that you can drink from rivers, tap water, and any questionable water source on your travels.
Support local economies
One of the most devastating effects of global warming is that countries with fewer resources are the hardest hit. The travel industry on exacerbates this as up to 90% cash spent on traveling to these countries ends up in the pockets of big business that is outside of the very countries we’re visiting.
To help bring resources back into the countries most affected, shop local and support local businesses in your travels. That’s one thing that we do at Explorer Chick to ensure that our adventures benefit everyone involved: we work with local companies and tour operators so that money is driven back into local economies as we’re exploring them.
Here are some of our upcoming international partnerships
Travel with eco-friendly airlines
Air travel is one that largely contributes negatively to the environment. The carbon dioxide emissions from flights are about 1.04 billion metric tons, about 2.5% of the total greenhouse gases emitted. You can play a part in changing that, though.
Shorter flights are less efficient, so if you’re only traveling a short distance, you might consider driving the car instead.
If you need to fly, try cutting down your impact on fuel consumption by limiting travel months to one or two in a year, rather than multiple trips every few months.
Opting to travel with self-proclaimed eco-friendly airlines such as American Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa is another great way to travel sustainably.
Stay in certified eco-accommodation
Staying in luxe resorts and having a sip of coffee with plastic mugs in fancy restaurants is lovely, but it isn’t always good for the environment. That doesn’t mean you need to switch to cheaper, less luxurious options, though.
Many resorts are going green and adopting eco-friendly practices that are good for both the traveler and the environment. Some resorts are even certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
Aside from resorts, the best eco-friendly options are the ones that have you getting back to nature. Whether you’re camping out in the wilderness, staying in a motorhome or tiny home, or traveling by campervan, you’ll not only be lowering your footprint, but you’ll also be saving a lot of money.
Use Carbon Offset Programs
A part of our current dilemma is that the world and our ability to explore it continues to move forward while the consequences of this continue to grow. So what are we to do, move to the forest and disconnect from the modern world?
In a word, yes.
But it’s also understandable if that life is not for you 😉
One way to help offset all of the damage that we do as individuals is to join a carbon offset program. These programs provide ways to either neutralize or reduce your carbon footprint by investing in carbon reduction projects around the world. Sustainable Jungle wrote a pretty detailed piece about this, which you can read here. While this doesn’t undo the damage caused by travel, it does “make up for it” in a way that is helpful to the planet.