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A Guide to Sustainable Travel: Minimise Your Carbon Footprint

01 Aug 2023

Sustainable travel means traveling in a way that doesn't harm our beautiful planet. It entails being mindful of our carbon footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere as a result of our activities – and taking proactive steps to reduce it. As globetrotters, we have the responsibility to protect the places we visit and the people who call them home. By being eco-friendly travelers, we can help fight climate change, preserve nature and support local communities. It is also a great opportunity to experience genuine culture and traditions that make each destination truly special. So, let's dive into some tips and tricks on how to travel sustainably and make our trips not only memorable but also good for the world around us.

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Sustainable transportation

When it comes to getting from one place to another, there are various options to consider. We can compare different forms of transportation such as planes, trains, buses, or even carpooling with others and then choose travel options that have a lower carbon footprint and are kinder to the environment. Once we get to our destination, it’s a good idea to opt for public transportation, cycling, or simply walking as they not only emit fewer greenhouse gases but also keep us healthy and active.

Sustainable Travel Tip - Rent a Bike

Even with our best efforts, some forms of travel will still result in carbon emissions. This is where "carbon offsetting” comes in. Carbon offsetting involves compensating for the emissions we generate during our travels by supporting initiatives that reduce or capture carbon elsewhere. When we invest in carbon offset programs, we can balance out our carbon footprint and contribute to environmental projects such as reforestation, renewable energy, or sustainable agriculture.

Eco-friendly accommodation

When looking for a place to stay, opting for eco-conscious lodging can make a big difference. These accommodations prioritise the well-being of our planet, and we can identify them through various certifications that prove their commitment to sustainability. It's like a badge of honour for their green practices. There are many options, ranging from eco-lodges and green hotels to sustainable resorts, all of which are actively contributing to conserving nature and minimising their environmental impact.

Some popular eco-certifications for accommodations include LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Green Key, EarthCheck, Green Globe and Rainforest Alliance.

Some of the practices that show that an accommodation is eco-friendly are:

Energy efficiency

These accommodations preserve energy using energy-efficient appliances, LED lightning and smart climate control systems. They may also use renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines.

Water conservation

Implementing water-saving measures such as low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. Some accommodations also have systems to collect rainwater for non-potable uses.

Waste management

Reducing waste and recycling by providing recycling bins in rooms and common areas and composting organic waste.

Recycling Bins in Hotel

Sustainable building materials

The construction of eco-friendly accommodations often involves the use of sustainable and locally sourced building materials, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation.

Responsible sourcing

Eco-friendly accommodations support local economies by sourcing products and services from nearby communities, which also reduces transportation-related emissions.

Environmental education

Some eco-friendly accommodations raise awareness among guests about sustainable practices and local environmental issues. Our role as responsible guests doesn't end with choosing the right lodging. While staying at these eco-friendly spots, we can do our part as well. Simple actions like turning off lights and air-conditioning when not in use, not wasting water, recycling and handling our waste properly can make a big difference in reducing our carbon footprint. So, by staying at these planet-friendly places and being responsible guests, we'll become part of the collective effort to create a healthier and happier planet.

Responsible sightseeing and activities

Being responsible tourists when it comes to sightseeing and activities is all about having a great time while also showing kindness and respect to the places and people we visit. We should be mindful of our actions, support local communities and encourage responsible tourism. That means being respectful, not causing harm, and being aware of our impact on local life. It's like being a good guest in someone's home – we want to leave a positive impression.

Sustainable Travel With Kids

Eco-friendly activities can be a whole lot of fun. There are many amazing things we can do that actually benefit the environment. For instance, hiking and exploring nature trails are like giving our Mother Nature a warm hug while we get to see the beauty of local natural landscapes. We can also join wildlife-friendly tours and see amazing animals in their natural habitats without disturbing or harming them. Nature-based excursions let us experience the beauty of our planet in a sustainable and responsible way. They can also be a great opportunity to nurture environmental awareness in our children.

By choosing these activities we will not only create wonderful memories but also contribute to the well-being of the environment and the local communities.

Sustainable travel packing 

When it comes to sustainable travel packing, there are some clever strategies you can adopt. First and foremost, we can try and reduce waste by being conscious about what we pack. By opting for reusable alternatives to single-use plastics such as reusable water bottles and shopping bags, we can actively contribute to minimising plastic pollution which is one of the biggest environmental problems of 2023.

Snow White Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable Water Bottle for Sustainable Travel

Eco friendly essentials

There are some other eco-friendly essentials you should consider packing for your trip. Take bamboo socks – they are antibacterial, highly sweat-absorbent, and they have excellent insulating qualities, which means they’ll keep your feet warm in winter and cool in summer. Another essential item that should be on your packing list is a bamboo toothbrush. If you haven’t already, there are many reasons you should switch to bamboo toothbrushes. Traditional plastic toothbrushes are made from non-degradable materials, and it takes ages for them to decompose. On the other hand, bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials, it is biodegradable and easy to compost. A bamboo toothbrush will keep your smile bright and help cut down on plastic at the same time. Also, we highly recommend sustainable personal care products by Last Object that create zero waste.

When we travel, we often take out our phones to take pictures and capture our memories. A great way to protect our precious gadgets in a sustainable way is to use a compostable phone case. It is plant-based which means it naturally breaks down over time, so there is no plastic waste and harm to the environment.

No Plastic Compostable Phone Cases

Another way to capture your travel memories responsibly, especially if you are into writing, is to use a stone paper journal and a natural grass pen. These journals are made without cutting any trees, and no water is used in the process, meaning they are much kinder to the environment compared to traditional, wood pulp journals. Since they are waterproof and tear resistant, you can use them in different environments without worrying they will get damaged. If you like the idea of writing down your thoughts and impressions while traveling, but you haven’t done it before, you can look up a guide to journaling for some useful tips.

Here is another valuable tip- pack light. When we travel with fewer items, it saves us energy, we use less fuel and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it is way easier to get around without dragging heavy luggage.

Sustainable choices through food and dining

Food is definitely one of the most delightful aspects of traveling. The best part is that we can enjoy delicious meals while also being kind to the planet. First, let's explore sustainable food options. This means supporting local farmers and trying out fresh, organic, and seasonal delicacies. Additionally, we can play our part in reducing food waste by being mindful of what we order and ensuring that we don't let food go to waste. Minimising food waste is an important step in reducing our environmental impact.

When we dine out during our travels, we can choose eco-friendly restaurants and cafes which take concrete actions to protect our planet. They might use biodegradable or reusable materials for serving food and drinks, and they may also source their ingredients sustainably, supporting local and eco-conscious suppliers.

Sustainable Travel Tip - Eating With Bamboo Cutlery
Bamboo Cutlery Ideal for Outside Eating

For the days you’d like to enjoy your food at your accommodation, or on the go, bamboo cutlery can be a great companion. It’s lightweight and reusable, making it a much better alternative to single-use plastics. It’s also made from organic material, which means it is biodegradable, and it would compost naturally if you accidentally left them behind in nature. Embracing these sustainable food choices while we travel is a win-win for both our taste buds and the planet.

Final thoughts

In this guide, we've come to realise that sustainable travel isn't just a fancy concept; it's a meaningful way to reduce our carbon footprint and protect the planet we call home. Every small action, from choosing eco-friendly transportation to supporting local communities, contributes to a positive impact on the environment and the lives of people worldwide. So, dear readers, as we set off on our future travels, let's embrace sustainability and make conscious choices to preserve the beauty and diversity of our world. Together, we can create a brighter, greener future for generations to come.

And, if you still don't have everything you need for your summer adventure, take a look at our collection of sustainable road trip essentials.

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