Travelling is an ever-accessible and for most of us, affordable life choice. As with anything, you’re in control of making decisions that account for the environment.
Here are 3 things you need to know to travel more sustainably, without sacrificing any of the fun:
1. Planet-healthy holiday
Don’t leave your good habits at home. Work the below into your routine to minimise your impact:
What to pack
- Your own water bottle
- Bags for laundry and wet clothes
- As few disposables as possible – many places don’t have recycling facilities
What to do
- Keep showers short, turn off taps when brushing your teeth, reuse towels and turn off the TV, lights and air-conditioning when you leave your room
- Eat from local vendors
- If bushwalking, stay on trails and footpaths, respect the wildlife and take your rubbish home with you
- Reconsider souvenirs. How many trinkets and key rings do your loved ones need?
2. Plane problems
One transatlantic flight can add as much to your carbon footprint as a year of driving. Why? While it’s true that planes burn a lot of fuel, we also need to account for vapour trails and ozone production. These high-altitude impacts can cause as much of a warming effect as CO2. So, although flying is not equally accessible to everyone in the world, it does have a disproportionally large impact on our climate so it’s important you make a wise individual choice.
What to do
Start in your own backyard – Australia is renowned for its natural beauty and provides great eco tour experiences. But being located so far from the north of the globe, flying is hard to quit entirely. So, if you’re catching a plane:
- Take-offs and landings use the most fuel, so opt for the most direct route possible. Studies suggest daytime is better too
- Research how fuel-efficient your airline is. Don’t think budget airlines have a bigger impact because they are cheaper. They actually usually fit more people and use newer aircrafts
- Fly economy. More people per plane means fewer emissions per person
- Buy carbon offsets
- Pack light
Also, consider alternative forms of transport in lieu of internal flights once you arrive at your destination. Catching a train, bus or even driving is better than a flight and will get you some rolling scenery to boot.
3. Accommodation questions
Through our Smart Green Business program, we work with local businesses to help them improve their environmental performance. As part of this work, we know that YHA, TFE hotels and the Jolly Swagman Hostel and Radisson Blu here in Sydney are running much more efficiently. To give you an idea of how, Radisson Blu saves 12.6 ML of water and diverts 187,200 kilos of waste from landfill into organics and mixed recycling each year, while the Vibe Hotel (which is part of the TFE group) saves 6.7 ML of water and diverts 8,000 kilos of waste.
When doing your accommodation research, it doesn’t hurt to check your accommodation provider’s environmental rating. Certifications in Sydney include NABERS, EarthCheck and Green Star Performance, but these will vary according to location. You can also scan the hotel’s website for their waste, water, food and energy saving initiatives, or email the provider if these details aren’t immediately available. Tripadvisor.com now offers a badge that identifies eco practices.
What to look for
- Rainwater and greywater harvesting systems
- Linen and towel reuse programs
- Low flush toilets
- Occupancy sensors for lights
- Multiple recycle bins
- Locally-grown food