Love the planet? Also love seeing the planet, but don’t know how to do both?
Here are some tips for keeping your carbon footprint low while you travel, reducing waste and keeping the planet happy!
Okay, so this seems like an obvious one. And if you are going to developed countries, it really is; make your own food and put it in lunch boxes, recycle all you can, use reusable coffee cups; the protocol is basically the same as in the UK.
But what if you’re going to a developing country, where waste disposal and recycling can be an issue?
Well, in large cities in most developing countries, there will be waste disposal available, but maybe not recycling. I would say to have a quick google search about the city you are travelling to, and see how good their disposal is.
If you are travelling rurally, however, it may not be so simple. In many rural areas across the globe, there are massive problems with disposing of waste effectively. In these areas I would say that the best way of limiting the amount of landfill waste you produce is by simply cutting down on the amount of waste you produce: use you own water bottle and when buying street food, get it without packaging wherever possible. You will always produce waste, but by being conscious of the amount you produce you can effectively limit this!
2. Conserving water.
Obviously, humans use a lot of water. Most of us, around 153l per day! Many people in the world only live on 10 litres per day, and this amount is almost equal to one toilet flush in the West.
So what can you do?
The obvious ones here are to take shorter showers, not to leave taps on, and make sure they don’t drip. But what else?
Well, there’s this super-cool product I found that reduces water consumption, washes your clothes really quickly AND uses less washing powder!
It’s called the Scrubba, and you can get one here. > https://thescrubba.com
The Scrubba uses an internal washboard and air tight seal to wash your clothes really, really fast – and its light weight and compact – ideal for travelling.
3. Taking a road trip? Think about renting a hybrid.
Hybrids are the way forward, people. If you’re charging at home, it will only cost you £3.00 for a full charge! At rapid charging points, it costs between £6.80-£7.30 (in the UK) for 30 mins charge, which can fill your battery up to 80%!
To put that in perspective, a full tank of petrol costs around €80 euros, according to the European average. So not only are you helping the planet, you’re saving a literal tonne of money too.
For charging points in the UK, visit https://www.zap-map.com/live/
4. Non-stop Flights.
So there are many ways you can cut down on the inevitably massive carbon footprint caused by flying thousands of miles across the world.
One way is attempting to get non-stop flights to countries; if you are going a long way, this can be expensive, however, if you are really keen about lowering your carbon footprint, this is a very effective way of reducing carbon production as the most fuel is used when taking off and landing.
5. Lush Products!
I am a big-time Lush fan. They are awesome on so many levels! They don’t test on animals, they recycle the packaging on many of their products (bring back 6 pots and you get a face mask free), and their shampoo bars and soaps have no packaging; instead you buy a tin which can be reused for every shampoo bar and soap you buy. As the shampoo bars and conditioner bars aren’t liquid, they are ideal for travelling if you are only taking a cabin bag – and they take up far less room than your run-of-the-mill shampoo bottle.
Although the shampoo bars seem a pricey £5.95 on average, this ends up saving money – I usually go through a bottle of shampoo for £3.99 in a month. Lush shampoo bars, although they are more costly, usually last me up to four. And they all smell nice!
6. Carbon offsetting flights.
This is a bit of a contentious issue; carbon offsetting flights can be seen as a way to simply take away the guilt of your carbon footprint, while not actually being effective in cutting it down. Is it actually all a scam for the environmentally conscious and guilty? Is it just sweeping the inevitable guilt at using tonnes of carbon to travel under the rug? Or can it really help?
The way that companies offset carbon emissions is by investing in carbon reducing projects around the globe. From hydroelectric power plants in Turkey to providing carbon efficient cookstoves in Uganda, there are many ways to offset the carbon you produce. These schemes would reduce your carbon footprint by investing in these projects; providing cookstoves helps reduce the amount of carbon produced in countries where wood fires and stoves would be usually used for cooking – which often have a very large footprint.
However, these schemes seem fundamentally flawed to me; you can never really take back the carbon you produce, unless it is via trees – which are being cut down at a higher rate than we can plant them, anyway. So by reducing another’s carbon footprint to offset your own, do you really do anything but simply reduce your own guilt?
The idea that giving someone an efficient stove in Uganda will somehow magically erase the carbon you have produced seems a little absurd; but these schemes do reduce CO2 emissions all around the world – they just can’t get rid of yours.
Some people believe that carbon offsetting even has a negative impact; those who have done it are now absolved of any guilt about their carbon footprint, and so forget about all of the waste they can be producing in-country.
All that being said: these schemes are ultimately effective at reducing global carbon emissions. They may not take away your emissions, but they are certainly worth investing in for a greener planet. And I think as long as you remember this, and keep conscious about other ways you can reduce your footprint, they are quite worthwhile.
At the end of the day, travelling long distances is always going to be bad for the environment; if you have decided to travel, you have already made a decision that will inevitably negatively affect the environment. What is important is that you are conscious and aware of all the ways in which you will have an impact, and try to limit these as much as you can.