Being aware of what I put out into the world is something that I have always been conscious of. Growing up, my mom had always been a collector and a reuser; boxes piled in the basement just in case something else needed to be sent or packed away. Empty sauce and jam jars were cleaned out and rescued to be reused over and over. Venturing out into the world on my own, it was easy to expand that mentality. I am slowly trying to transition to using products that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
Of course, when you’re traveling, sustainable practices can be harder to maintain since many transportation options are damaging to the environment. Booking.com conducted and released the results of a study for Earth Day 2018 on global sustainable travel. Much of the data showed that travelers are already starting to think about eco-travel and how travel impacts the environment and the communities visited. As people grow aware of these impacts, they can make changes and demands of the travel industry to change the way travel looks. Already, environmentally friendly travel options are easier to find but imagine if it were the norm.
The biggest contributor to environmental damage and carbon emission is transport– especially flying and driving. These two travel options are naturally the most popular and accessible. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to offset your carbon footprint from flying or driving. One popular company offers travelers the chance to pay to support restoration, planting, and clean energy projects. Good Traveler offers travelers a 2.00 purchase that offsets 1,000 miles of flying or 400 miles of driving. It’s easily accessible to travelers to put good back into the environment and still enjoy travel until we can come up with a more eco-friendly fueling system.
Maintaining or starting sustainable travel practices doesn’t always have to include huge commitments of time or money. Some choices can be as simple as bringing reusable cups and mugs along with you. Bring Tupperware or glass containers for leftovers. Be conscious about recycling or bring items home with you if there isn’t anywhere to recycle. In situations where you need to buy bottled water, try to find locally purified water in glass containers instead of plastic.
A less obvious but still impactful step to take is to focus on supporting local and independent businesses. Most local companies and products support the community you are visiting instead of to major corporations. Ethical Traveler selects countries doing the most work toward “promoting human rights, preserving the environment, and supporting social welfare—all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry.” Ethical Traveler believes that by visiting these countries, travelers can use economic leverage to reward and support those using best practices and encourage other countries and locations to follow suit.
Sustainable living can easily be integrated into your existing traveling lifestyle if you take the time to be conscious while on the road. After all, if we can “make a dent in the universe” by living cleaner, more intentional lives, one day at a time, a difference will truly be made.