Travelling has to be one of the most rewarding and thrilling things you can do. There’s nothing better than exploring a new place, immersing yourself in a different culture, tasting unusual flavours and visiting the sites that make the experience that much richer. Unfortunately, travel can also not be kind to Mother Earth. Eco-tourism has seen a boom in the last few years as awareness of and commitment to greener travel continues to grow. We thought we’d compile a quick guide about how you can help minimise the environmental impact of travel. People, it’s time to GO GREEN!
ONE: Travel with a reusable bottle (where tap water safe) and shopping bag
If you’re travelling somewhere where tap water is safe to drink, be sure to take a water bottle along with you. This will not only save you money by not having to buy bottled water, but you also won’t need to worry about having to recycle the plastic bottles you accumulate. The same is true of a shopping bag: instead of relying on plastic bags when doing your shopping, simply take a canvas bag (or two) with you which you can easily reuse each time you need to do a shop. It really is the small things!
TWO: Pack light
Something as simple as trying to pack light can really help when it comes to reducing fuel consumption. The heavier a mode of transport is (bus, plane, car etc), the more fuel it will end up using, so just think how much of an impact it would have if everyone tried to travel with less?
THREE: Be thoughtful when it comes to transportation
Help to reduce the carbon footprint by using “thoughtful” modes of transport where possible. Walk and bike when you can, and use public transport as the next option. If you plan on renting a car, request a hybrid or smaller car if you can – a smaller sized vehicle is bound to be less of a petrol guzzler than a larger car.
FOUR: Go paperless where possible
We live in a digital age which means that we no longer have to rely on printed everything. Nowadays, boarding passes, transport tickets and even guide books are digitised, which means a reduction in paper usage which is always a good thing for our trees and environment.
FIVE: Buy local
When travelling, try and support local where you can. Not only will this allow you to sample some unique delicacies and take home some truly authentic souvenirs, but it also means that you won’t be buying products that have been imported – a process that inevitably contributes to the carbon footprint. Eat at restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients and buy fresh produce at farmers’ markets.
Tip: Be sure not to buy products made from endangered species.
You may want to read Seven of the best food markets in Gauteng
SIX: Stay on working farms
Choosing to stay on a working farm while on a trip can not only be an excellent way to connect with an area’s agricultural heritage, but the chances are that sustainability is a priority on the property. You’ll be doing your bit for the environment while enjoying the charms of country hospitality – the perfect mix!
See Portfolio’s full range of Farm Stay Accommodation here.
SEVEN: Stick to marked trails when hiking
The obvious reason why walking trails are well marked is so that hikers don’t get lost, but by creating designated paths, it also limits the impact on the natural surroundings. By straying from trails, you inevitably damage nature, so it’s best to stay on the beaten track.
Remember: Take all rubbish home with you and only make campfires in permitted areas.
EIGHT: Book sustainable tours and experiences
Be sure that when it comes to tours and activities, they are conducted in a sustainable way and negatively impact the natural environment as little as possible (if not at all). Research the company offering the tour or experience to ensure that they are as “green” as can be.
NINE: Leave as light a footprint as you can
Every little truly helps and you can do your part to lessen the impact on the earth. Things like not requesting fresh towels every day, keeping showers short, turning lights off when they’re not needed and keeping aircon usage to a minimum can really help to reduce the footprint. Just imagine how effective it would be if everyone did their little bit to help?
TEN: Eco lodges all the way
Nowadays, eco lodges are easy to find so when planning your accommodation, why not consider choosing places that support sustainability however they can (think organic veg gardens, using environmentally-friendly products, incorporating natural elements into their design and saving water and electricity where possible)? It’s definitely worthwhile.
Attempting to “go green” when travelling really doesn’t have to be an impossible task. It’s ultimately about doing what you can to limit the impact of travel on the earth and very often, it’s the little things that can make all the difference. Here’s to happier and greener travel for us all!
Read all about Chris Harvie’s green thoughts in How green in my vellie