It’s 2019, and the topic of sustainability—whether it relates to retail, general living practices, or tourism—is top of mind for most consumers. As a traveler, it might seem like the best way to “go green” is to Uber more, drive less, and recycle when you can. But there are so many other things you can do in addition to become a sustainable traveler who is contributing to a lower carbon footprint and a better world for future generations.
Understanding Your Carbon Footprint
Before you can learn how to reduce your footprint, you need to understand what factors are contributing to it. According to TimeForChange.org, the phrase refers to “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).” Any activity that burns fossil fuels—oil, gas, or coal—releases carbon dioxide and therefore contributes to the problem. For example, driving a car, heating your home, using single-use plastic, eating meat, and using electronics are all activities that contribute some sort of CO2. According to data reported by the International Energy Agency, the countries that contributed most to CO2 emissions in 2016 were China (28%), the United States (15%), India (6%), Russia (4%) and Japan (4%).
How to Travel Sustainably
In order to decrease carbon emissions and ultimately reduce our carbon footprint, tourists need to take a thoughtful, sustainable approach when planning their next trip. The following tips can help reduce your footprint and sustain the environment for travelers of the future:
1. Participate in the “sharing economy” (rides, rooms, electric bikes/ scooters).
2. Walk or bike instead of using engine transportation.
3. If possible, travel over land instead of flying.
4. Unplug your electronics when you leave your hotel room (including air-conditioning).
5. Pack light, stay in one location, and take short trips nearby.
6. Take shorter showers and reuse towels at hotels.
7. Think before you flush because standard toilets use an average of 3.5 gallons of water per flush.
8. Eat local cuisine and purchase locally-made souvenirs.
9. Reduce meat consumption because the preparation of meat products is a major CO2 producer.
10. Use reusable bottles with a built-in filter so you can drink local water.
11. Visit eco-friendly destinations such as Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Australia.
12. Avoid traveling to countries with water scarcity, including Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Jamaica, among others.
13. Eliminate single-use products, like plastic bags or straws, as it takes hundreds of years for them to decompose.
14. Go digital instead of using paper for maps and directions.
15. Donate and give back to communities to offset the impact of your trips.
By making small changes to your routine and being conscious of how you are traveling, you can make a big difference in the health and sustainability of the world.
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