Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers

Traversing the world brings about a challenge when looking to keep your environmental impact to a minimum. Luckily travelers across the continents are committed to keeping that carbon foot down while still seeing the sights, connecting with different cultures and broadening their horizons. I’ve connected with half a dozen travelers who, like yourself, want to pursue a more Eco-friendly approach to travel. Here are their green and Eco-friendly tips for travelers.

 

Travel with a Reusables Kit

From Monica Rosquillas of Girl for a Clean World

A lot of waste can be avoided when we use our own reusables. You can customize your kit depending on the type of travel you’ll be doing and how long you’ll be doing it for. One reusable water bottle can save hundreds of plastic ones, a reusable bag is essential for shopping at the market, getting take-out or buying souvenirs, and a cutlery set will come in handy when visiting food fairs and outdoor markets. To reduce even further, pack what you already have at home, perhaps a jar or camping utensils, instead of buying something new.

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Bring Your Own Reusable Utensils 

From Andrea Sanders of Be Zero 

Echoing Monica’s advice, Andrea added: Small, portable and lightweight utensils are one of the easiest ways to refuse single-use plastics. I’ve been using this stainless steel folding spork for over 3 years now. It’s a perfect blend of a fork and a spoon! Which makes it easier to carry on planes as well!

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Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Bring Your Own Waterbottle

Becky the Traveller

One thing I always pack when I go on a trip is my Sigg water bottle. It stops the need for buying plastic bottles whilst I’m away, so great for the environment. And of course, in countries where you can drink the tap water, it saves me money too! If I am visiting somewhere the drinking water isn’t safe then I always carry with my water purification tablets. So I’m only 30 minutes away from clean water!

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Scan and Refuse 

From Andrea Sanders of Be Zero 

Anytime I’m outside my normal arena, I always do a pre-scan of the establishment we are thinking of eating or drinking at. Are there real plates, silverware, and glasses available? Are there straws in all the drinks? Does their take out come in styrofoam? If it looks like I can’t get a non-disposable utensil, cup, or plates then I’ll make sure to refuse the disposables and opt for any real counterpart or use my own. Trash is going to happen, so don’t get down if you get a straw even if you asked for none. If an establishment looks like they only rely on disposables then I’ll find another place. If there is not another place, then I’ll ask them if they can put my food or drink in my own containers.

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Refuse Disposable Plastics

From Monica Rosquillas of Girl for a Clean World

Continuing Andrea’s advice, Monica added: Even if you aren’t carrying a reusables kit, there are many opportunities to avoid waste, especially disposable plastics. For example: when eating out at restaurants, always ask for no straw, choose restaurants that serve food without disposables, ask for no bags when shopping, ask for a glass of water instead of buying a bottle and choose local fruit instead of prepackaged snacks. You might start out refusing only straws, and after a few days, you’ll realize how much plastic we use and find more opportunities to refuse it. Waste created on our travels doesn’t come back with us and we should be conscious about that. Communication can be seen as a barrier, or as an opportunity to learn a bit of the local language and engage with locals.

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Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Skip the BioPlastics 

From Chantae Reden of Chantae was Here

Did you know that bioplastics are often just as bad as plastic? Though they may be marketed as a much green and eco-friendly product, many bioplastics need very specific conditions to decompose (that include being picked up and brought back to the company that makes them) or break down into microplastics. The best thing you can do is avoid plastic altogether. Refuse plastic products — even if they claim to be eco-friendly — and bring your own containers instead.

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Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Conserve Natural Resources

From Monica Rosquillas of Girl for a Clean World

When staying at a hotel, Airbnb, or guesthouse, it’s easy to forget about our water and energy use, after all, we don’t have to pay for it out of pocket. However, it’s just as important to conserve natural resources when staying at a hotel as we do at home. Conserve local water by taking short showers, skipping baths, and reusing hotel towels more than once. Save energy by turning off the AC when not in the room, or better yet, choose a fan room instead. Use public transportation or better yet, bike or walk around the town or city.

 

Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Take Washing to a New Eco-Friendly Level

Rohan of Travels of a Bookpacker

For washing on longer trips take a waterproof bag. There are ones specifically made for washing with scrubbers on the inside but a normal one works as well. Put the clothes water and washing powder inside and shake it around like the barrel of a washing machine.

 

To be more eco-friendly we use soap nuts, natural washing seeds that can be used multiple times, instead of powder or detergent. Soap nuts are a berry shell which contains natural detergent. Five or six of them added to a load of washing creates enough ‘soap’ to wash the clothes. The clothes don’t require rinsing and come out smelling completely neutral. Each soap nut can be used up to 10 times and they are also great for sensitive skin.

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Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Know What’s in Your Sunscreen

From Chantae Reden of Chantae was Here

If you’re going to a tropical destination with coral reefs, you need to be mindful of the sunscreen you’re putting on before jumping into the water. Most sunscreen brands — especially the big name ones — contain oxybenzone, a chemical that damages coral reefs. Remember that anything you put on your skin or hair washes off into the water. Invest in a reef-safe sunscreen or buy a rash guard and pair of leggings. It’s the best way you can protect fragile reefs as well as your skin.

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Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Avoid Collecting Sand or Rocks as Souvineers 

From Ketki of Explore with Ecokats

As travelers, we always want to take back home a souvenir as a memory from the trip. Though fridge magnets, artifacts, and jewelry are the most common souvenirs, people tend to pick up naturally present no cost stuff from nature. These may include sand or shell from beaches, volcanic rocks, wood/flowers/leaves from national parks.

It is best to avoid taking any of these back home. Shells, sand, and stones help stabilize the ecology around them – they may help anchor seagrass; provide homes or hiding places for crustaceans. When rocks break down they provide nutrients for the soil and organisms living in the area. Seeds from plants also help in maintaining the indigenous of the area and it is best to leave them where they were found.

 

US Customs also tends to question passengers if carrying soil, sand, fruit or seeds. If found carrying any these items, they most likely confiscate them as they are considered to hold bugs, seeds, bacteria, etc. in it.

 

 

Green & Eco-Friendly Tips for Travelers by Travelers

Consider These 4 Points When Visiting Animals 

From Manini of The Manini Experience

Animal tourism has become increasingly under fire in the last few years and for good reason. Animals have been exploited for human entertainment for centuries and the general masses are finally becoming more aware of the horrific conditions these poor souls are having to endure. Travelers can do their part in minimizing demand and the negative impact of animal tourism by considering these guidelines when choosing their excursions and even destinations.
  1. Avoid activities that allow direct contact with exotic animals as much as possible and more than anything never ride an animal. There are plenty of ethical elephant sanctuaries out there and none of them will ever have you ride those beautiful, large, yet fragile creatures. Even seemingly harmless things like cage diving with sharks and swimming with whales could potentially disrupt their food sources, times of rest and daily habits. You are better off doing a pelagic shark dive or land-based whale-watching.
  2. If a naturally aggressive animal is docile around large groups of people it isn’t because they were bottle-fed by a human, it’s likely because they have been beaten into submission and often drugged into lethargic apathy. It’s not natural so it should set off alarms in your head.
  3. Does the attraction or organization employ locals? This is less about the animals than it is about the sustainability of the community you are visiting. Many large animal “charities” that many people donate money to employ non-locals and pay them outrageous salaries so make sure you do your research (if they are a true non-profit, this information will be accessible online), so as to be sure that your time and money is truly going toward helping the people or animals that they claim.
  4. ASK. Don’t be afraid to inquire where they obtain their animals, where their money goes, and what they are doing to achieve the altruism that they claim. Many organizations claim to be working toward the greater good yet they do damage in their wake. Some zoos claim to be working toward conservation through money raised by ticket sales, but are they really? They still hold intelligent animals such as gorillas captive against their will. These are the organizations that it is our job as sustainable travelers to weed out.

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Book Differently

From Jessie of Epicure & Culture

For those wanting to travel in a more eco-friendly manner, utilize online platforms dedicated to reducing your carbon footprint on the road. While Ecosia is a search engine (similar to Google) that donates 80% of its surplus advertizing income to plant trees, BookDifferent is a hotel-booking platform that compares the carbon footprint of different properties, and also donates 50% of its commissions to charities like Amnesty International and Greenpeace. By using platforms like these, you can start doing your part even before taking off!

Put A Pin In It! 

Enjoy this? Why not share it to help more travelers pick up a few tips and tricks from being green on the road. If we missed something, let us know in the comments. Always excited to hear how fellow wanderlusts are staying eco-friendly on the go.