The festive season is almost upon us and many of us are eager for a much-needed break. Over the last few decades the world’s population has increased dramatically and so have our carbon emissions. You may be travelling cross country or even overseas this festive season to visit family or just some “me” time. Whatever the reason, it’s good to be mindful of the impact we have on the environment, and how our choices will impact our carbon footprint.
Be environmentally aware
Flying is one of the worst contributors to carbon emissions and climate change but still serves as the primary form of travel for many of us. Although there are plenty of alternative options nowadays and if you live overseas the Eurostar and national trains are a great mode of transport and so much cheaper!
If you’ve already booked your flight for your next holiday destination, why not consider reducing your impact through other ways?
Have an eco-friendly vacation
1. Take a refillable water bottle
If you get thirsty when flying or travelling why not bring along your own refillable water bottle? Because let’s be honest, the water bottles you get on the plane are so small – who are they kidding? Most airports have water fountains so top up there instead of buying bottled water while travelling. This will also reduce the amount of plastic you use on your trip. Just make sure the bottle is empty between security checks!
2. Decant your toiletries
Toiletries on a trip are a must. However, they seem to have doubled in size over the years and this just means more space taken up in your suitcase. Why not decant your shampoo, body wash, and creams into smaller, reusable bottles that can be used for each trip you take?
3. Don’t rely on buying clothes while on holiday
When I think back to my Thailand trip, I made the mistake of packing very lightly with the idea of buying all the ‘cheap’ clothes there. I ended up having to buy clothing I didn’t really want only because I needed it! Make sure to pack all the clothing you’ll need for your holiday and don’t rely on buying there.
4. Bring your own goodies
If you think of every road trip you’ve had or plane you’ve been on – what is the common denominator? Plastic! Become a Frugal Fran when flying or driving and bring all your own cutlery, snacks, and teabags. Just add water! This is one way to avoid all the plastic.
Before you leave:
1. Check if your airline is part of a Carbon Offset Programme
Some airlines participate in carbon offset programmes – this means that they invest in carbon reduction activities to account for their carbon emissions. If they don’t participate in a programme then you can take matters into your own hands by calculating your carbon footprint specifically to your flight with this nifty online carbon emissions checker and tailor it to your flight.
2. Switch it all off
There has been a lot of debate on whether leaving your appliances plugged in at the wall socket uses energy and I am here to tell you that this vampire energy is a real thing! Before leaving make sure you unplug all those appliances and if you have a heating or cooling system, make sure you have turned that off too. Defrosting your fridge before you leave is another way to save energy.
1. Choose a greener mode of transport
If you’re going to fly, consider what mode of transportation you will use once you hit the ground. If there are trains and buses available at your destination then use these instead of cabs.
#FunFact: Of all modes of transport, trains are the clear winner because they have the least harmful carbon footprint.
2. Uber’s Car Pool service
Uber has a useful carpool option where you can connect with other passengers going to the same destination and split the fare. If you are landing at a popular airport or heading out to a trendy spot there is a good chance that someone else may be traveling a similar route to you. This is not only an eco-friendly option but a cheaper one too!
While on holiday:
1. Support Local
I know how tempting it can be when you land in a big city and heading straight for the malls. Big brands can tempt you, but they are generic. An exciting way to experience the city’s local culture is to immerse yourself in it. Find local markets with handcrafted goods and locally sourced products to take home as souvenirs.
2. Take part in ‘free’ outdoor activities
Speeding past the countryside or beachfront from a taxi or train is not the same as pedaling past it at your own speed on a bicycle. Hire some bicycles and explore the city or take a walking tour. If you are visiting a beach destination why not hit the water in a SUP (stand up paddle board) instead of a jet ski.
3. Discover the local cuisine
When you’re in an unfamiliar place it can be easy to visit fast food places – Burger King and MacDonald’s are everywhere these days! Challenge yourself to explore the local food markets or if you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, why not buy fresh produce and make your own meals with some local recipes?
Holidays are a great way to relax and unwind, but remember that you aren’t the only one on holiday. Whether you are doing a staycation, traveling locally, or going overseas try and be conscious of your environment and strive to be as eco-friendly as possible.
About the author:
Danielle de la Cour is not your average 27 year old. She is well versed in the language of carbon emissions, renewable energy, and sustainability. This talented woman can be found all over the world attending conferences about sustainable development. She is currently attending the UNFCC COP24 in Poland, with some of the world’s biggest environmental leaders like David Attenborough (we had to throw that in there). If you would like to be part of her green adventures then follow her on Instagram.