It’s a sad fact that travelling is bad for the environment. However by making small, low effort changes to how and what we do when we travel, we can actually majorly counteract and minimise our negative impact on the planet.
Here are just five things that I am doing both at home and abroad in an attempt to be a more environmentally friendly traveller. I hope you consider adopting some, if not all of these easy ways too!
1. download Ecosia As your search engine
It literally works as your homepage in place of Google so when you’re researching or booking your trip, instead of adding profits to a tech giant, you are donating (and the best bit of all – without even realising) to a charity! I love the little feature at the top which shows you a little icon of how many trees you have ‘planted’. It really makes you feel like you’re making a little difference. In only a couple of months I have personally contributed to the planting of over 280 trees (and counting)!
Ecosia has all the same features and search power as Google and in fact I actually prefer it (as when you go onto ‘maps’ for example, you can choose whether you go on Bing or Google Maps, giving you that little bit more choice).
It’s such a simple and brainless way to counteract carbon emissions. If there is just one thing you need to do today, it’s installing Ecosia on your PC or laptop!
2. Use a LifeStraw Go Bottle
The LifeStraw Go is probably my favourite, most useful travel purchase of all time. I honestly don’t know how I coped for so many years without it!
The LifeStraw is a patented micro-filtration system that kills 99.9% of bacteria, meaning you can drink literally any quality of water (so long as it isn’t saltwater). Yup – even toilet water if you so desired. It has literally been a lifesaver at times when I have been hiking and run out of drinking water or even when I’ve got back from a night out with an unbearable thirst in a country with unsafe tap water and no shops around!
Although it is unfortunately made from plastic (LifeStraw – please make a metal one!) taking this travelling has drastically cut down on the amount of single use plastic bottles I am purchasing. I’m not only using less plastic when I travel, I’m also saving myself money too. Bottled water definitely adds up, even in the cheapest of countries!
LifeStraw have a ‘giveback’ programme meaning with every purchase, they either donate a LifeStraw product to a third world country to provide safe drinking water, or your purchase helps to fund the many humanitarian projects they are leading across the world. It’s refreshing to see a company with such socially conscious values at their core.
Oh – and the taste of cold, fresh, natural water from a waterfall or stream is heavenly!
You can purchase a LifeStraw Go bottle here.
3. Eat Vegetarian or Vegan Whilst Travelling
Meat (especially red meat) is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases into the environment. The most common misconception is that it’s just the large amount of methane the animals (especially cows) release – but this is not wholly true. It is actually the devastating deforestation that is occurring to both graze the vast amount of animals we are consuming and also to grow their food. Trees are literally being ripped down across the world to satisfy billions of people’s unhealthy diets.
I do try and cook vegetarian food at home and only eat meat when I am out, but in all honesty I struggle as I like meat. However when I travel, I find I have more time to really invest in eating a completely vegetarian or sometimes vegan diet. It is especially easy in vegetarian-friendly countries such as Sri Lanka or Malaysia, where a lot of the population don’t eat meat anyway (mainly for religious or hygiene purposes). Avoiding meat travelling is also a great way to avoid getting sick and try some really flavoursome new food. When I was in Sri Lanka, I met quite a few people who got food poisoning and I was totally fine for my whole 3 week trip as I didn’t touch meat once.
This is just one small way you can reduce your carbon footprint abroad – even if you struggle to do it at home.
4. Use Eco/Reef-Friendly Sunscreen
I cringe when I see people smothering themselves in sunscreen and then jumping into the ocean to swim or even worse, to dive or snorkel. Sunscreen is super toxic and I don’t think many people realise how harmful it is for sea organisms, especially coral which is already facing bleaching from rising sea temperatures.
Wearing a t-shirt to minimise the amount of skin exposed to the sun when in the water is one way to reduce sunscreen use, but the best way is to invest in some eco-friendly sunscreen. They are often made with zinc oxide and other natural ingredients so are way better for your skin too.
I especially love Surf Durt as not only is it made from 11 totally natural ingredients, it also comes in a super cool little bamboo pot. I’ve tried a few eco-sunscreens but they have either been too thick to apply properly or have literally turned you white. This one melts in like beeswax and has a creamy golden tinge, so looks and feels nice on the skin.
Be aware of natural plant oils such as lavender and eucalyptus though. These oils can be found in many organic sunscreens but they are actually toxic to reef organisms as well. Just because it’s ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s 100% reef safe so look out for this, or a stamp of approval on the bottle from a marine organisation before you buy.
5. Pay to Offset Your Carbon Emission
According to Qantas and Jetstar, only one in ten passengers will pay to counteract their flight’s carbon emissions. I have to admit that only until recently I was also one of the 9 who didn’t.
Always the cynic, I have never trusted that airlines firstly work it out accurately, let alone give all the money they say they do to an environmental charity. However especially with a recent shift in the general public’s consciousness of this topic, airlines are becoming a lot more transparent about the carbon emissions flights produce and have teamed up with some really efficient charities. It’s in their best interest to encourage carbon neutral flying and they do actually donate 100% of your contribution to minimise your greenhouse gas impact.
Again, it’s just an easy extra click at the checkout and so although it will make your ticket a bit more expensive, no additional effort is needed at all.
I hope you found some of these easy tips useful. Thanks for reading!
(This post contains affiliate links meaning should you purchase a product via this link, I’ll earn a tiney tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!)