How To Reduce Your Travel Carbon Footprint
I will be honest, I had forgotten how much waste travelling can produce. Extra snacks here and there, eating on the fly, receipts and brochures at every turn. At home in my usual routine, it’s easier to keep my waste under control. Put me in New York City over the holiday season and I’m tested. Slice pizza, doughnut stalls and 50% off at Anthropology…AHHH someone hold me down!!!
I admire Greta Thunberg for refusing to jump on a plane, but I cannot make that commitment…not yet anyway.
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says the most important thing we can do for our planet right now is to talk about climate change. So, for those of us not ready to cut up our passports, here are some small steps to lighten your travel footprint.
1. Carry a cup, water, take-away cutlery & reusable bag (especially when you fly)
Investing in a cute back-pack to fit my take-away cup, water bottle and cutlery was the BEST decision I made for our New York City holiday. Over the three week vacation, I saved 50+ disposable cups from landfill.
Bonus points for showing off your enviro skills to flight attendants. Not once has my reusable cup been rejected on a flight, in fact Qantas and JetStar staff encourage it. The only thing better than a glass of wine at 30,000 ft is an ecofriendly one.
(P.S. did you know Air New Zealand is trialling an ediable cup?)
2. Sit down to eat where you can
Making the time to sit and eat is a great way to limit waste. HOWEVER increasingly cafes are serving up meals in disposable dinnerware. Seek alternative cafes and support those who are doing the right thing. Plus if they can’t wash a mug I wouldn’t trust them to make a good coffee.
3. Think like a local
“Tourist traps” are hot spots for disposable products. Take Times Square for example; a must-see for any visitor, but I can guarantee anything purchased within a four block radius will be gift wrapped. Even the nearby convenience stallsstock pre-cut fruit over an apple. When setting out to enjoy a tourist location, think like a local. Don’t leave hungry, take snacks, carry water and turn on that “we don’t need nik naks” mindset.
4. Use public transport
Shared services are and #ecotravellers best friend. The London tube, the NYC Subway, the Parisian Metro are all superior solutions to a taxi. Don’t stop there; jump on a city bike, an uber pool, even brave an Indian rickshaw. Your carbon footprint will thank you for it.
5. Don’t open the hotel toiletries
Sure you paid top dollar for this room, but does the environment need to pay as well? Skip the mini soap and travel with your own. By the end of the week, you will have likely saved ½ kg of waste from landfill. Go you!
Plus…you never use them at home, I declutter hotel toiletries with clients ALLLLLL the time.
6. Seek out the businesses doing good
There are 1000 of local and international businesses doing amazing things for our planet.
For us, New York was a social enterprise tour. Browsing Brooklyn’s racks of recycled-clothing; admiring Patagonia’s repair floor; supporting cafes giving back to the Aussie Fire Disaster, trying alternative milk and vegan meat. Support those doing good
7. Fight the buying urge
Window displays look extra sparkly on vacation and our buying temptation runs high. Before the vacation discuss with your travelling companions what you would like to buy.
If I had a penny for every decluttered “Bali” outfit!
Before the vacation discuss with your travelling companions what you would like to buy. And before each purchase ask yourself (your true self not your holiday excited self) will this item bring joy in my normal life; ie “will this large pineapple embedded cane hat still spark joy in Melbourne”…maybe not.
8. Be present
Travelling is a luxury. In the Western world, it is easy to skim over the remarkable feats accomplished to get us to these remote or not-so remote areas. The resources, skills and investments made to enable us to explore our precious planet are immense. Presence and gratitude will go a long way.
9. Ditch air travel
While all the above are great, the best thing you can do to reduce your travel footprint is to fly less. Choose a choose a holiday locally or endulge in a stay-cation. For motivation read the New York Times piece, Flying Is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make It Better. Flying less is my goal.