Green is the new black, especially where travel is concerned. Sustainable travel is a concept that is here to stay and will only grow in popularity.
Thank goodness for this. The world is a pretty rad place and we should all be doing our bit to take better care of it.
Human beings have unfortunately had a largely negative impact on the earth’s ecosystem and when travelling, it does largely feel like a case of “last chance to see”. That’s one of the reasons I chose to make it such a priority in my life.
I am not however, here to preach. Rather, I’m far more interested in figuring out some sort of solution.
I do spend a lot of time wondering if all my travel is doing more harm than good, but then, I want to get out there and see the world. So, in an effort to find balance, I’m looking at how I can travel in a more sustainable manner.
Question is, how does one go about doing this?
What is Sustainable Travel?
It’s a catchphrase that’s being thrown quite a bit. Yet, what does sustainable travel actually mean?
As I understand it, you’re travelling sustainably if you’re leaving minimal damage behind. So that the sights that you see can be witnessed and appreciated by others, long after you’ve passed on by.
Which is a lot harder to do than it sounds.
What’s the Point in Trying?!
I know a lot of people who have taken a nihilistic approach to the state of our world today.
“The world’s already fucked. We should just give up, stop trying to change anything.”
No way! Fuck that, I say. The planet is worth fighting for and I strongly believe that it starts with the individual.
How Can You Travel Sustainably?
So let’s have a look at the ways that you alone can do your bit to start travelling in a more sustainable manner.
Embrace Slow Travel
One of the most important things to remember is that travel should never be viewed as a race, to see who can get to the finish line first (one of the many reasons I abhor the concept of “country counting”, which is particularly prevalent among Australians).
Rather than city or country hopping, give yourself time to get to know a place properly. Not only will you get to experience it in all it’s glory – you’ll be less likely to burn out along the way.
I understand that not everyone can lead a nomadic lifestyle, nor embrace life as an expat. But don’t discount it.
Travel with a purpose! Volunteering while travelling remains a popular method of giving back while roaming the world, whether that be caring for animals, conservation, or helping out those in need. Look for opportunities that support you in some ways – with food or accommodation. Make sure you do your research in pursuing this. While I’m certainly no expert in the field, I remain dubious of organisations that require payment upfront.
Monitor your waste output
This is one of the most obvious ways you can make an impact as an individual. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Don’t use single use items, such as tissues or plastic cutlery.
- Carry around your own reusable bag and water bottle.
- Use toiletries that are kinder to the environment.
- Think twice about buying stuff you don’t need.
- Buy food that’s not been wrapped in plastic.
- Try to compost your food waste.
And beyond. The sky is the limit.
Opt for alternatives to flying
Argh flying. It’s a tricky one. I know I’ll personally end up using planes for as long as I’m an Australian living abroad, as I won’t be catching a boat back home anytime soon. However, I know it’s time to consider cutting back on those short jaunts overseas to Europe, when I get more than a couple of days off work and feel that familiar itch in my feet.
But, you gotta get from point A to point B. That being said, don’t discount the options that end up spewing far less emissions out into the atmosphere. Buses, trains, car-share, boat, bicycle – pick and choose at will!
As the adage goes – it’s the journey, not the destination. And more often than not, a journey by train can be a helluva lot more pleasant than one by plane.
Do your research when it comes to ecotourism and green products
Some brands and companies are embracing green values, because they know it is the right thing to do. Others are cashing in, because it’s the flavour of the moment. Do your research and keep a strong lookout for bullshit. Beware of greenwashing – brands that pretend to be all environmentally friendly, but aren’t exactly telling the whole truth when it comes down to complete discrepancy.
Do you travel sustainably? What does it mean to you? Simply a fad, or a concept that is here to stay?