With carbon emissions, caused directly or indirectly by tourism, rising steadily the need has arisen for travellers, whether for business or leisure, to re-think their trips and find innovative ways to minimise their environmental impact. Last week we looked at basic guidelines for eco-friendly travellers. This week we feature practical hints to keep in mind for your next trip.
Before you go:
Green travel starts before you even leave your home.
• Research lodges, hotels and tour operators that have green credentials. Just because a lodge is in a nature reserve does not automatically mean they are eco-friendly. It’s also important to look out for unscrupulous types who market as being green when they have no plans in place to reduce emissions.
• Plan long travel efficiently: if you plan to go abroad, rather fly once a year for a long holiday than make multiple shorter trips.
• Combine business and pleasure: if a business trip takes you to a destination you’d like to explore, rather arrange a longer visit than fly home and return at a later stage.
• Enquire about your tour group. Find out if they employ local guides and how large each tour group is (smaller groups may cause less damage to sensitive areas).
• If you are embarking on a tour of a major city, get maps of cycle paths, walkways and public transport. It is also a good idea to base your accommodation to an area that gives you easy access to these modes of travel as it works out cheaper and reduces emissions.
When you get there:
Once at your destination keep the following tips in mind to make your trip more environmentally friendly.
• Re-use towels and sheets. It might seem insignificant but if a hotel that houses three hundred guests has to wash towels for each and every person in the hotel, seven days a week, you will soon be using kilolitres of water. Rather let your towels hang to dry than replace them every day.
• Depending on where you travel you may have to keep bottled drinking water. Bring your own bottle if possible and if you do have to buy water, you can reduce the environmental impact by refilling your bottle rather than buying more. If you are venturing out into the bush on a camping trip you should fill large jerry-cans with water from home rather than buying bottles along the way.
• Remember that appliances on standby use energy, as do air-conditioning units left on while you tour. Before leaving your hotel to tour go through your room/s and make sure all appliances are switched off.
• Bring your own toiletries and avoid using the hotels pre-packaged ones.
• If you do a spot of snorkelling, remember to mindful of habitats. Do not break off bits of coral or stir up sediment as this damages a reef’s ecosystem.
• When hiking or camping, stay in designated areas. This will keep you and any wildlife you could encounter, safe.
• Light fires in designated areas and always put them out when going to sleep or leaving the campsite.
Got a green travel tip? Leave it in the comments section below.