Want to go green when you travel but not sure how to? Doing your bit for the environment is fine when you’re at home: recycling, using energy efficient light bulbs, washing your clothes at low temperatures, and walking/cycling to work are all relatively easily-executed examples of eco-friendly living. However what do you do when you travel? An eco-friendly holiday doesn’t just start when you reach your destination. It begins a lot earlier. If you’re travelling green – or thinking about travelling green -consider the following before you do.
Where are you going? If you are thinking of going abroad, why? Consider visiting places of interest closer to home, which can be reached by train, or bike, instead of by aeroplane, car, or boat. Many worldly people have never seen the beauty of their own country, opting instead for holidays in other parts of the world. This is not just a pity in terms of what they are missing out on, but on how much harsher on the environment, air travel is.
How are you getting there? If travelling by car, can you carpool? Otherwise known as car-sharing, lift-sharing, or ridesharing, ads for drivers and passengers can be found in local papers and online fairly easily. You could even team up with family, friends or neighbours and make a party of it. Alternatively, can you rent (or even borrow!) an electric, electric-hybrid, or biodiesel car, which will reduce your fuel cost substantially in addition to your CO2 emissions. Word of warning: do make a reservation! There is currently a variety of hybrid cars in circulation, however as the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, and Nissan Altima are the lowest in the price bracket, they tend to be the most popular, so sell out the fastest. If air travel is your only practical means of getting to your destination, then give a thought to airlines who have adopted eco-friendly policies, anything from waste disposal and carbon offset schemes (British Airways), to purchasing more environmentally-friendly aircraft (Air One), to conserving fuel and tailoring routings to be greener (American Airlines). Airlines, being the worst culprits, have a lot more to account for, due to the emission of additional chemicals into the air along with CO2. In addition, the extent of the damage done by this cocktail of chemicals is increased because of the altitude at which they are dispelled from the aircraft. To see what is being done within the aviation industry to combat this, take a look at www.enviro.aero
Going green for cruise companies is less a priority – at least for the moment – and only a few such as Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises have adopted any policies that detract from the amount of waste dumped into the sea, and CO2 emission discharged into the atmosphere each sailing. However, small sailing vessels, such as hybrid catamarans and yachts – some even manufactured from recycled materials – are a greener alternative, though tend to be on the pricier end to rent.
Where will you stay? Nowadays it’s hard to find a hotel or even a chain of hotels that won’t have at least a small eco-friendly policy in place whether it’s offering you the option of having your towels changed less frequently or putting a newspaper in a common room, however some places just try harder than others. Examples of places that tick all the boxes are Rainbow Retreat in Tasmania, Australia, the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, in Pattaya, Thailand, the Gaia Napa Valley, California, U.S., and the Cote How Organic Guest House in Cumbria, U.K. For a comprehensive listing of hotels and to what extent they are “green” in virtually any country, visit www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com
Offset Your Carbon Emissions Sometimes it’s just not possible or feasible to do things exactly the way you’d like, in which case, why not simply offset your carbon? Paying to fund a programme that helps the environment is an easy way to neutralise your carbon emissions and you can find a multitude of options available online to help you do so. In many cases, it’s a small sum to pay to take the greatest load off your mind.