Every journey begins with a single step – and if I’m entirely honest, this month’s travel linkup on green travel and being more sustainable was more of a challenge than usual. It’s never been the most important consideration when we’re planning travel – we can definitely do some work on that.
We try and do our very best on a human scale; we don’t own a car and use public transport when at home and travelling where possible (not to mention the wai-wai express – that’s walking to non-NZers), reduce/reuse/recycle as much as we possibly can, and we adopted a small wild animal into our home – who definitely has a zero carbon paw-print. (She’s also worn a bell for years to protect birds & local animals – now she’s a bit too old and lazy.)
Considering sustainability and being eco-friendly seems like a paradox when you’ve got a severe case of wanderlust – those flights aren’t good for the planet… but there are definitely changes that can be made.
One question that’s been in my mind, is how do you recognize it when a company that offers “Green Travel” experiences is, in fact, just greenwashing? (Greenwashing is defined as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” In other words, greenwashing is about using marketing strategies in an effort to deceive customers into believing that a company’s products, activities, or policies are genuinely eco-friendly when they really aren’t.) It simply comes down to researching better.
Planting trees via web searches – literal green travel
The concept is simple, you use Ecosia to search the web in place of Google, Yahoo or any other providers out there. Any and all ad revenue Ecosia makes goes straight into planting trees across the world. To date, they’ve planted over 54 million trees – and on top of that, every search with Ecosia actually removes approximately 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. ⠀
How? Their blog states that, ‘on average, it takes around 50 searches to finance the planting of a new tree. An average tree planted by Ecosia will remove around 50 kg of CO2 from the air during its lifetime’. How cool is that!?
Catch the train/drive/ferry – moving sustainably
We’re always slipping off around the UK – it’s a country rich with heritage, history and beautiful natural landscapes. I don’t love anything more than watching the countryside slip by from a train seat, going on a road trip with friends or catching a ferry somewhere sunny. If you fancy a little inspiration, these are some of my favourite no-car daytrips from London.
(Interesting fact: If you’re travelling with family or friends and the destination is within driving distance, perhaps you should consider taking a road trip. But if you’re travelling by yourself, it can actually be much more eco-friendly to fly!)
Ditch Plastic Straws, Single-Use Plastic Bags and disposable water bottles
97% of the time we really don’t need to be using them at all (it’s totally different for people less able-bodied who often need to use straws) but with a mindset shift and a little bit of planning, we can cut back drastically on using straws (using paper straws is just shifting the problem to our trees – I’m loving my retractable metal Last Straw), plastic bags and disposable water bottles – though it does pay (excuse the pun) to investigate which countries will charge you for tap water in restaurants and bars. *cough* Cologne *cough*.
Offset the jetset – sky high sustainability
Keeping your carbon footprint low when you’re flying internationally is almost impossible, but there are a number of offset programmes providing an opportunity to help neutralise our impact. Choose a project with Gold Standard certification, recognised by Greenpeace, Worldwide Welfare Foundation and Friends of the Earth for their genuine value. Try MyClimate.org
Eating & drinking locally – the tasty way to green travel
Sure, you can get just about any drink/food anywhere, any time of the year – but one of the best thing about travelling is sampling local flavours. If you enjoy local cuisine, sip local brews and raise glasses of wine from growers in the same country, you’re not only getting a real taste of the locale, but your food miles are likely to be pretty low as well!
A little closer to home…
Giving a third of our back lawn over to bee friendly plants
Longtime blog readers will know that I’m a huge bee advocate – I’ve done urban beekeeping courses, have a fascination for bee-friendly buildings – especially hotels like the Lancaster London – and I’ve rescued a few nectar drunk bees over the years. So, it was just an extension of this when deciding what to do with a sloping lawn end, we decided to let the wildflowers proliferate for the bees. If you don’t have garden enough to do this, even window boxes can help to add greenery in a world where vegetation is sadly being given over to gravel.
Home or away, I’ll definitely be redoubling our efforts to offset some of the environmental effects our adventuring has, and keep green travel in mind.
What are your green travel hacks?
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