17 September 2019
Green travel, or eco-tourism, has long been a popular trend among travelers, and is swiftly gaining momentum. Responsible travel practices are integral in exploring the world, whether it involves taking a few steps outside your front door or trekking to some remote corner of the planet.
It’s incredibly easy to take on an epic adventure across the world while simultaneously keeping your environmental effect minimal. Here are a few ways to keep your travel practices as conscious and low-impact as possible.
1. Bring your own water bottle, eating utensils and bag
Step 1: no single-use plastic. Boycott the straws, water bottles, takeaway containers and utensils, and shopping bags. Bring your own! A refillable water bottle can be filled at any tap along the way (just double check the country’s water sanitation), while your own eating utensils will greatly reduce your waste when indulging in local street food or a lunch on the go.
2. Volunteer with the local community
Volun-tourism is a swiftly growing market which caters to those wanting to both make an active difference in their chosen destination, and fully immerse themselves in local culture.
Greenpop, a South African reforestation and urban-greening NPO, regularly runs volunteering opportunities for travelers looking to make a difference. Get involved with their next event, the three week Eden Festival of Action, here.
3. Eat the local food
Many remote and rural locations have to ship in most of their basic Western foods into the country - at huge cost and sustainable inefficiency. Street food is the quickest way to immerse yourself in local culture - and it’s also the cheapest. Locally grown and prepared meals are fresh, homemade and give you a full culinary sense of the destination. They’re also delicious.
4. Take public transport or hire a bicycle
Some of my favourite travel memories include a bicycle or my own two feet. Most major cities have cycling routes and bicycles which you can hire out cheaply for the day and fully experience a city, and its surrounds, with the ease of your own schedule. If you need to get somewhere faster, ditch the hired car - take public transport or split an Uber with a fellow traveler.
5. Hostels, Couchsurfing or staying with people you know
Staying at fancy hotels will spike your carbon footprint - guests typically use more water, electricity and food goes to waste in gourmet restaurants. Staying in a locally owned hostel, or better yet in the comfort of a home, supports local communities, saves you cash, and once again allows you to get under the skin of a destination.
6. Be at home on the road - short showers, recycle, minimal waste
If you recycle at home, being on the road should be no excuse to slack on it. The same goes for the length of your showers, food waste and general household etiquette. Be conscious. Treat each place you stay at as if it’s your home. Turn off lights you aren’t using, be aware of your water usage, bring your own towel to reduce unnecessary hotel laundry.
7. Pick up trash
How often have you found yourself on a paradise beach only to find it strewn with litter? Many coastal destinations, given poor local infrastructure or simply a lack of education about recycling, end up with tonnes of rubbish on beaches and hiking trails. Take a bag with you whenever you go for a walk and pick up what you find. Be considerate of the wildlife, and of the locals. This is their home.