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Green Travel: Top 10 ways to ensure

eco-friendly travel



Eco-friendly living involves green travel too.

Whether you’re backpacking or staying at a luxury resort, there are many ways in which you can reduce your impact on the environment, and on local people and their culture.

I’ve put together ten green travel tips that will help you be more eco-friendly while travelling, and can also be incorporated in your daily life.

  1. Choose eco-friendly accommodation

I’ll be writing reviews on eco-friendly accommodation through Africa, but some simple tips for choosing sustainable accommodation apply.

When deciding on a place to stay, choose an eco-lodge, green hotel or hostel, or stay with a local family-run bed and breakfast or guesthouse.

For those who appreciate the great outdoors, camping is a good eco-friendly option, should you leave no trace on the environment.

Camping in Mussandam

Visit my article on green camping to find out more.

Another green travel option is to look into couchsurfing. This fantastic website connects people around the world who offer up their couch to fellow travellers, ensuring less of a carbon footprint than staying in a hotel.

What’s more you’ll benefit from learning about a place from people who actually live there and enjoy more unique experiences. I highly recommend it.

However, if you do decide on a hotel, try minimise your impact on the environment by observing some simple green travel principles, such as turning off lights and your room’s heating/cooling, and not wasting food or water. You can also reuse your towels and sheets whenever possible, reducing energy used for laundry.

To ensure a green travel experience, try to engage in choices that benefit the local economy such as eating local produce at a small restaurant rather than at your hotel’s restaurant or the nearby Macdonalds, or finding a self-catering establishment where you can prepare your own (locally-sourced) food.

  1. Choose to travel to places that practice geo-tourism.

A new development in ecotravel is geo-tourism. The National Geographic defines geo-tourism as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents”.

Thus geo-tourism is green travel that promotes conservation of culture, history and the environment, protecting the character of a destination and leaving it unspoiled for future generations.

To invest in a place, try stopping there for a few days, purchasing local produce and crafts, and potentially volunteering or helping the community. Exploring the area by foot or with a mask and a snorkel are probably the best ways to connect with nature while minimising damage.

  1. Travel lightly

Carrying less with you means using less fuel, whether travelling by car, bus or plane. So carefully consider what you pack before you leave and include only what is truly necessary. You’ll benefit from the freedom and ease of having less to carry whilst helping the environment through your efforts to travel green.

  1. Use reusable bags or containers

Pack a reusable carrier bag made of jute or coir, to keep on you while travelling. Also invest in a couple of reusable containers for your toiletries.

  1. Before leaving the house unplug everything and turn off your heating/cooling

Unplug all your appliances and charges – electronics, even while on standby, still use a tremendous amount of power. Absolutely everything that recharges will continue to use power after charging so unplug your TV, microwave and other charging devices and reset your heating/cooling.

  1. Carry your own water bottle and refill it from local water sources.

Not only is it considered more hygienic to drink bottled water, it’s become fashionable. This, despite the fact that we all used to drink from the tap or local water sources before bottled water became widely available.

So it’s somewhat surprising to see what a frenzy people can whip themselves into if you so much as suggest drinking local water. Words like diarrhea, constipation, gastrointestinal disorders, parasites, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis (to name a few) are bandied about. But it’s cheap and easy to buy a water filter, not to talk about less harmful to the environment.

French childhood friends, Guillaume Combot and Enora Nedelec literally embody green travel, having walked through Africa drinking only local water, sometimes using a piece of cloth as a filter. I’ll be posting an article about their experiences shortly.

Moreover, I strongly believe your diet and lifestyle is an indicator of how much illness you will experience when travelling. If you have a strong immune system, built up by a healthy diet and lifestyle, your body should be able to throw off any pathogen.

Why is plastic so bad?

Most people know that plastic is bad, but not really why. Unfortunately, that means that plastic is still widely in use. The main reason that plastic is harmful is that it may take centuries to biodegrade (or break down) and in doing so, separates into small toxic particles that contaminate soil and water.

This means litters our streets and parks, and eventually ends up in our streams and oceans, spoiling our beaches.


Plastic litters the beachside

Tiny particles of plastic are ingested by fish, and in turn, are ingested by humans, causing untold harm.

And that’s the selfish side of it, we haven’t got started on the wildlife who eat it as food and are poisoned or choked to death, or the wildlife who get trapped in it and slowly suffocate or starve (birds, camels, turtles, fish, etc).


Turtle swimming in ocean

Hermit crab

What’s more, plastic is made from oil, so using less plastic helps preserve natural resources.

The manufacture of plastic involves many chemicals, many of which have not been sufficiently tested for their toxicological impact on humans or animals. To find out more about the dangers of plastic visit this article by Environmental Health News, citing over 60 scientists around the world.

So, keep our beaches gorgeous and clean, and keep our marine life safe. Use reusable plastic or none at all!


Gorgeous Oman beach

Coral

  1. Utilise eco-friendly gadgets.

From solar-powered phones to backpacks that charge your electronic devices, rechargeable batteries and e-book readers, there are numerous ways to reduce your impact on the environment through innovative applications of technology.

  1. Walk, cycle, use public transport or consider a hybrid car.

It’s pretty easy to put this green travel tip into practice. I’ve mentioned the couple who walked across the African continent, as an inspiring example of how anything is possible. However, for most people walking across a continent is too much to even contemplate (let alone attempt), so simply consider trying to walk more while exploring a destination.

You can also be more eco-friendly by renting a bicycle, motorbike/scooter or hybrid car. Using public transport such as local buses or trains, also dramatically reduces your carbon footprint. Of course you could choose to not travel at all and rather explore your local area, or simply stay at one destination and explore it more thoroughly.

If you have to fly, book direct flights as taking off and landing uses more fuel.

  1. Engage in eco-friendly activities

Taking advantage of activities that do not compromise the environment such as sailing, cycling, windsurfing, surfing, skiing, diving or snorkelling, and hiking are wonderful ways to get to know a destination.

Try and avoid any activities that inflict damage, and while hiking use established tracks and paths. Obviously anything powered by fossil fuels such as speedboats, helicopter rides and the like are best avoided.

  1. Eat less (or no) meat.

While we all know that global warming is one of society’s biggest issues, it may surprise you to hear that the United Nations has identified animal agriculture as the largest single contributor to global warming.

According to a new report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), livestock generate a whopping 18 percent of human-related greenhouse gas emissions, even more than the gas-guzzling transportation industry.

In fact, the report states that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's lunch (a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards) releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles. Shockingly, despite statistics such as these, global consumption of meat is forecast to double by 2050.

So, I have to conclude that the most important (and neglected) green travel tip to keep mind (whether at home or abroad) is:

By not eating meat and animal products, or limiting our consumption of these products, we reduce our carbon footprint dramatically.

Find out why eating vegan, and more raw, uncooked food is the most sustainable for the environment.

You can also read up on the Longevity Diet, where some of the world's longest-living cultures are compared for similarities, find out all the Raw Food Diet Benefits, as well as all you need to know about Raw Food Health, and even learn whether human's are in fact carnivores, or even omnivores.

Alternatively, check out the articles on green camping and how to pack light, to ensure your trip causes the least possible harm to the environment.


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