Look into the history, culture, natural environment and customs. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective so engage in local culture.
Follow these 10 simple and easy guidelines to help make a major difference in reducing your travel footprint.
1. Research your Destination
Find out as much as possible. Look into the history, culture, natural environment and customs. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective so engage in local culture. Remember that eating local foods, shopping in local markets, using local tour operators and attending local festivals are all part of experiencing the culture and supporting local economies thus enhancing destination sustainability.
2. Keep it Clean
Discard waste in recycle bins or in litter bins or keep it with you until you can. Do not leave any waste in natural areas and do not litter, even left over fruits can be harmful to the local eco system. It is essential that you do NOT transport any fresh food items from country to country. Eggs and seeds hidden in fresh produce can have devastating consequences on micro eco systems.
3. Keep the Air Clean
Leave the car behind, if only for a day. Walk, cycle or use public transport to get around. Not only does this mean exciting and unexpected experiences with the locals, it gives you a rest in order to see it all! Why not take the bus, train, walk or bike. You’ll see a lot more and it’s cheaper!
4. Buy Smart
Shop local and try to use responsible local products and services, they give a flavour of the area and help support local communities. Many destinations are fortunate to have some fantastic producers of food, drink, arts and crafts. Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin and check that you can recycle the packaging. Avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources and report poaching and other illegal activities to the local authorities. Thank suppliers for their green measures, or don’t be afraid to ask why they don’t have a green programme. Support organic, toxin free and fair traded products and adopt Locavorean principles.
5. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Try to avoid overly packaged goods and say no to that extra carrier bag. Put clean, squashed aluminium cans, glass, paper, card and batteries in the correct bin. Take home items which are not recyclable locally (i.e. plastic and tetra packs) but can be commonly recycled in urban areas.
6. Save Energy
Reduce energy by switching off lights when you leave the room, turning down heaters that are not needed, closing doors and windows if heating is on. Wear more clothes rather than switching heating on in the first place. Avoid leaving appliances on standby and try to unplug appliances, such as TVs, as they can use as much as 40 watts per hour even when they are turned off! Use air-con only if a necessity and switch it off when vacating the room. Keep curtains closed during the day when vacating rooms to help keep the room cool in summer.
7. Save Water
Many regions across the globe suffer from chronic water shortages. A basic although habitual one – do not leave taps running whilst brushing your teeth or shaving and let management know if taps are dripping. Try not to shower for more than six minutes and for those who enjoy a bath everyday on holiday, try and make it every second day! Please, please, do not discard any harmful products into basins, toliets or drainage.
8. Reduce your footprint
The reality is that we are not going to stop flying, so when you fly consider offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight and pack light – lighter bags mean lighter planes, which use less fuel. Support airlines with transparent intensive carbon reduction programmes and fleet. Many airlines still operate “ghost” flights – an absolute no no and grounds for immediate boycott! Print only what you need to print, squeeze more information onto the page and print on both sides of the paper. Try to purchase electronic tickets and utilize online confirmations. In some cases you can now save travel documents to your mobile devices. Stay at a certified sustainable hotel and upon arrival participate in low-carbon activities such as trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, kayaking, rafting, caving, snorkelling, swimming, concerts, theatre and language and cooking courses, to help reduce your carbon footprint.
9. Respect and Protect
Respect local culture and traditions and be sensitive to the needs of the local communities. We all love a market but try to determine the market. Some markets rip us off and we need to haggle, some markets are desperate to make a sale – try not to take advantage.
Protect local plant and animal life. Be careful where you tread and use paths and trails responsibly.
10. Donate and Share
At the end of your trip leave clothes, shoes and any other items that you can not take with you or no longer need with the hotel and make sure the hotel donates to a local shelter or charity.