Travelling Green

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling

In the battle against climate change, we have come to a crossroads. What we do now will determine the future of our planet for generations to come. It has been reported that global tourism accounts for eight percent of global emissions, and with the industry set to get ever more popular, we should do our bit to make our wanderlust more sustainable. I’ve included just some of the many simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help save the planet on the road.

1. Fly less

The easiest way to cut down your carbon footprint while travelling is fly less. Tourism accounts for about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and it’s likely to continue growing unless we act. Air travel is, unfortunately, one of the main culprits. Each traveller emits about 1.2t of CO2 on a flight from the UK to New York so for frequent flyers, that total starts to add up.

In order to reduce our carbon emissions to a safe level for the planet, we should be cutting down our personal total to 1.2t which means that a single flight to New York has already used up our allowance.

It’s not just CO2 that we should be worried about when we fly. An aircraft emits a great deal more pollution which adds to the global warming effect. For example, the water vapour it produces at high altitudes forms thin clouds that warm the planet.You can sometimes see the streaks with your naked eye.

Some effort is being made to make flying more fuel efficient but it’s just not quick enough. As consumers, we have the power to make a difference with our money, and as travellers, we owe a debt to the planet we love exploring so much. The answer is not to stop travelling but instead to be more inventive about it. Fly less, opt for new modes of transport, explore the world by train or even journey across continents on a coach. There’s no one way to see the world.

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
See the beauty of a country by travelling through not over it

2. Fly economy

Finally, I’ve got a real excuse for you not to fly Business Class (other than the pricey tickets) and it’s for the sake of the planet. You actually produce a higher carbon footprint in Business Class than if you stayed in Economy. So shake off those feeling of FOMO as you pass those squashy looking booths with extra legroom on your way to your seat because you’re actually helping the planet.

Although you should try to fly less, it’s pretty much unavoidable if you’re going further afield. Due to their being more space and a bigger baggage allowance in Business Class, more carbon is produced per passenger. Research carried out in 2013 by World Bank found that a passenger in Business Class produces three times more carbon emissions than that of Economy!

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
Who needs extra legroom when you can help save the planet

3. Reduce water waste

When I visited Fiji, I stayed in a lodge that had no hot water. Instead, you had to time your shower in the early evening after the sun had heated the pipes during the day. It was a very au naturel way to wash which was why this unique experience was so eco-friendly.

But when we think of global warming, power plant emissions and cars come to mind, not water. A brief five-minute shower creates 2.25lbs of CO2 emissions because it needs to be heated, treated and disposed of. I’m sure you can imagine how much CO2 is produced from a long hot lazy shower in the evening.

You might not necessarily come across a naturally heated shower on the road but that doesn’t mean you can’t be environmentally friendly. Simply reduce your carbon footprint by having shorter showers and remembering to turn taps off.

Extend your eco-conscience to your drinking water by packing a reusable filter bottle to cut down on plastic waste. It’s not always possible to go completely plastic-free while travelling so if you do end up using a plastic bottle make sure you know where to recycle it.

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
Take a dip in a stream, even better!

4. Pretend your hotel is your home

You wouldn’t turn the thermostat up or leave all the lights on in your house, not with all those bills to pay. The same applies to your hotel, Airbnb, or whatever holiday accommodation you find yourself in. In a global effort to manage the increase in tourism, hotels are working to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% and you can do your bit to help them achieve their goal.

One of the main perks of staying in a hotel is that they provide fresh sheets and towels throughout your stay. However, this uses a huge amount of energy and water the in the process. Consider cutting down on the laundry by reusing your towels and bedsheets as often as you can during your stay to help the planet.

Another way to ensure that your holiday accommodation isn’t damaging the environment is by doing some research into where you will be staying. Look up the website and read the reviews. If the accommodation has made it their initiative to reduce their impact on the planet then they should be shouting about it to anyone who will listen because what’s more impressive than a gorgeous eco-conscious hotel?

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
Imagine if this was your home!

5. Pack light

Save your back and reduce your carbon footprint by packing light, it’s as simple as that! If you’re flying, challenge yourself to pack a carry-on only. Smaller bags in the aircraft carry less weight which means that it burns less fuel and emits fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Taking a carry-on is much better for the environment and you’ll have less weight to lug about with you on holiday. They will even save you money at check-in and you don’t have to worry about your precious cargo being sent to Timbuktu (though I’m sure it’s lovely).

If you are planning to travel for several months and you have the TSA airport security to contend with, consider picking up your toiletries in the departure lounge or once you land. That way, you don’t have to stress about meeting the teeny tiny 100ml liquid requirements and you can save money and the planet by getting their bigger counterparts that last ten times as long. Granted, carry-ons are a hassle to pack but once you get them right it benefits you and the planet when you travel.

The 5 best ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
Pack a carry-on, you know you want to


Thanks for reading,

F x

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