I feel a slight twinge of guilt every time I step on a plane. The carbon emissions caused by flights around the world are without a doubt damaging to our environment, and as such I aim to travel in a way that minimises the damage caused to our planet.
I have a loose set of guidelines that I try to adhere to, and also encourage others to do so, and as I learn more I will add to these guidelines. Sustainable travel is essentially making simple choices, however small, to reduce the environmental and social impact of your holiday.
- Take public transport wherever and wherever possible. Walk or cycle if you can!
- If you’re renting a car, aim for a hybrid or an electric model.
- Recycle when and where possible. Encourage others to do so too.
- Take a refillable water bottle.
- Take showers not baths, and make them speedy!
- Only do your laundry if you have a full load.
- Dry your clothes outside instead of using a dryer.
- Take hotel toiletries with you when possible so they will definitely be reused.
- Return maps and other tourist information items when finished with them.
- Stay on paths and trails to avoid harming the ecosystem around you.
- Avoid feeding wildlife and keep a safe distance away.
- Take a plastic bag and collect any rubbish you find when outdoors.
- Support local businesses by buying local products.
- Avoid engaging with exploitative organisations – think the drugged up tigers in Chiang Mai.
- Leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing but pictures.
- Respect traditions and customs and immerse yourself in local culture.
- Learn a bit of the language before your trip.
- Ask permission before taking pictures.
All of these add up to making a positive contribution whilst travelling. If you aren’t prepared to do the bare minimum then perhaps you shouldn’t be travelling. Our planet is fragile and at this rate a lot of its wonders will be spoiled. Climate change is an epochal problem that requires far more attention than it is currently receiving, however, if you start with the small things, the big ones will be easier to tackle.