It’s no secret – the planet that we know and love is in serious danger if we continue to pollute the environment the way we are now. We need to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly choices every day to help slow down global warming and stop damaging the environment we need.
What does sustainable travel mean?
Sustainable travel might evoke images of travelling exclusively on foot, backpack on your back, with no ounce of luxury in sight. But fear not! You can travel sustainably AND a little bit luxuriously at the same time.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) sums up sustainable travel very well – “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
Why is it important?
People are travelling internationally like never before. According to the UNWTO, international tourist numbers grew by 7% in 2017, to 1.3 million people. The growth for 2018 follows similar numbers, and by 2030, the UNWTO estimates 1.8 billion people will be travelling internationally each year. That’s a massive environmental and social impact, especially on destinations that are experiencing the impact of overtourism.
We all need to do our bit to ensure we’re having the most sustainable and positive impact as possible! Here’s a few quick tips:
Take local public transport
While it might seem easiest to hire a car to get from place to place, it is WAY more environmentally sustainable to take local public transport. It’ll give you a great insight into what a city is really like, as well as having a positive contribution on the environment. Most big cities also have a WAY more regular and affordable public transport system than we have here in Australia. However, if you really do have to hire a car, opt for the smallest model possible, as this will have the least amount of emissions and be the most fuel economical.
There are plenty of reasons to pack lighter – but did you know that the heavier a plane or car is, the more fuel it uses, and therefore the more emissions it contributes? Every kilo counts, so maybe leave that fifth pair of shoes at home. Packing lighter is also easier on you, giving you less to carry, and less clothes to wash when you get home.
Drink and eat local produce – including beer!
Drinking and eating local food has a variety of benefits. Firstly, by purchasing locally made food and drinks (this includes beer and wine), you’re supporting the local economy and local jobs. You’re also contributing fewer carbon emissions to the environment because those products have to travel a shorter distance to get to you. And finally, you’re opening your eyes to new food and drinks you might not have the chance to try otherwise!
Avoid single-use plastics
Plastic, unlike natural substances, breaks up not down. This means that there’ll be lots of tiny, microscopic pieces of plastic in the ocean, negatively impacting sea life. Therefore, it’s best to avoid single use plastics where you can – both on holidays and at home. Pack a reusable BPA-free water bottle and cloth bags for when you’re out and about shopping.
Seek out eco-friendly hotels
Some hotels are more environmentally conscious than others. Do your research (or ask your travel agent to!) and seek out hotels that invest in the local destination by hiring local staff, use minimal plastics where they can, and how they get rid of their waste. Other choices you can make at hotels is hanging up your towels rather than getting them replaced, keep your showers short, turning off lights and aircon as you leave the room and bring your own toiletries rather than using the tiny little plastic ones they provide!