Travelling contributes to environmental degradation but you can change that by adopting a sustainable travel habit and being a eco-conscious traveller.
Travelling is one of our favourite pastimes, but this lifestyle is contributing to environmental degradation in many ways. While we can’t control the resources used and waste emitted by the planes and hotels we stay in, we can make some simple travel choices that do less damage to the environment. From reducing carbon footprints to supporting local businesses, here are 8 ways to be an eco-conscious traveller:
1. Support local business
Sustainable travel isn’t always just about the environment. The social aspect of travelling sustainably also encompasses supporting local businesses and their unique culture. When you visit stores run by locals instead of those by large corporations, you directly create a positive impact on the local economy and experience true authenticity of their culture at the same time.
Large chain restaurants have been found to contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. So visit farm-to-table restaurants or those that only use locally grown food instead. This will significantly decrease your food miles, which is the distance your food travels from farm to plate; higher food miles would mean a greater carbon footprint.
Visit local independent businesses to reduce your carbon footprint and support the local community!
2. Respect wildlife
Refrain from buying unethical souvenirs that come from wildlife such as ivory, fur, seashells, and corals. By doing so, you are protecting them from trafficking and endangerment.
You should also always do prior research to ensure that you do not support wildlife tourist spots that exploit animals. True wildlife sanctuaries that have the animals’ best interests will often have a “see no touch” policy, observing them from a distance. It’s also best not to feed any wild animals as this will increase their reliance on humans for food, and in some cases cause them to turn aggressive.
While travelling, avoid activities that include elephant rides. These animals often suffer from many health problems and are kept in terrible living conditions.
3. Take the train instead of plane
A train ride from London to Paris emits 15.2kg of CO2, while a plane ride produces 121.3 kg – a whopping 14 times amount of CO2! Planes require large amounts of fuel, hence the greenhouse gas emissions from flights are one of the largest contributors to global warming.
Reduce your carbon footprint by taking the train instead. On EcoPassenger, you can enter your route information and it’ll calculate the energy resource each transport mode consumes, including the PM emissions that contribute to the haze. Plan your travel routes wisely to reduce your impact on the environment!
4. Hang your towels in hotels
Do you change your towels everyday when you’re at home? If you don’t, you should do the same too while travelling.
When staying in hotels, hang your towels to reuse them. This saves on resources used by hotels for towel washing. According to National Geographic, laundry comes in second for most water usage in hotels. Towel-washing is both an energy and water-intensive process, and unnecessary washes contribute to the mismanagement of our water resources. So remember to hang them if you can!
5. Take leftover toiletries with you
Mini bottles of luxurious shampoos and bath soaps in your hotel bathrooms are huge contributors to landfill waste every year. Once opened, hotels would usually throw them away. To avoid this, bring them home and reuse the bottles for your next trip by filling them up your own shampoo and body wash. Sustainable travel isn’t difficult!
6. Avoid stepping on corals
Thinking of swimming, diving or snorkelling in the ocean? Tour operators often fail to warn tourists not to step or rest on corals on the seabed. This has resulted in poor coral health in many popular tourist destinations. Even touching them should be strictly prohibited, as they’re extremely delicate.
Coral ecosystems are a source of food and habitat for marine life (think rainforests but underwater!), so do your part in conserving our coral reefs by keeping a safe distance from the corals and encouraging your friends to do the same too.
7. Use reef-safe sunscreen
Speaking of corals, do you know that chemicals such as oxybenzone found in sunscreens are extremely harmful to the marine ecosystem?
Coral bleaching can occur when corals absorb certain chemicals present in the sunscreen that we use today. As mentioned, coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, but they are now heavily threatened by our polluted waters. When heading to the beach next time, consider switching to a reef-safe sunscreen like Safe Sea sunscreen instead!
8. BYO (Bring Your Own)
Instead of using single-use disposables, bring your own travel kit and help to reduce landfill waste. Disposables, especially plastics, are a huge environmental problem as they don’t break down easily and sometimes even produce toxic chemicals.
To support sustainable travel, we’ve teamed up with Bamboo Straw Girl! From now to 30 September 2019, we’re giving away 5 sets of YouTrip Eco-Friendly Travel Kit to our Instagram contest winners:
• 1 x Bamboo Straw
• 1 x Beechwood Cutlery Set
• 1 x Collapsible Cup
• 1 x YouTrip Tote Bag
• 1 x YouTrip Passport Cover
• 1 x YouTrip Card Sleeve
• 1 x YouTrip Travel Adaptor
• 1 x YouTrip Travel Pouch
How to win
🌍 1. Comment with your green travel tip on our Instagram post
👫 2. Tag 2 friends
Check out Bamboo Straw Girl for more eco-friendly products like bamboo thermal flask, bamboo hairbrush, and bamboo cutleries. Psst, here’s a YOUTRIP10 promo code for you to get a 10% discount (no min. spend, SGD $10 discount cap) off your total cart! Valid until 23 October 2019.
While keeping these sustainable travel tips in mind for your next trip, don’t forget to bring your YouTrip card along to utilise YouTrip’s Wholesale Exchange Rates for favourable currency exchange rates too!
Enjoy a worldwide fees-less travel experience!