Last Sunday was Clean Up Australia Day, when Australians were encouraged to “clean up” and preserve the environment. But the best way to keep Australia clean is to not make a mess in the first place.
Here are a few handy tips to help you become a more environmentally conscious and responsible traveller — all year round.
1. Buy Local
A great way to reduce your waste is by buying local. When you travel, shopping for your food at the local farmers or food markets is always a good idea because you are supporting local and your food will also be fresher because you are buying direct.
Purchasing souvenirs locally from markets or side-of-the-street shops is also a great idea. You will be supporting small businesses and providing them with sometimes much-needed income and stability.
Indulge in a croissant from a local bakery or enjoy a gelato from a family owned ice creamery and buy your fruits and veggies from little stalls set up on the edges of farms.
Choose a locally owned cafe or restaurant. Take the time to sit down and enjoy your coffee or meal, it will be far more relaxing and enjoyable than having it on the go.
Or you can opt for a reusable keep cup so you eliminate the plastic and food packaging waste.
2. Stay at Eco-Friendly Accommodation
Choosing your accommodation is one of the first steps in the planning stage of your trip. Consider choosing eco-friendly accommodation — somewhere that is making positive change for the environment and its people. The horizons of sustainable accommodation and “eco lodges” are expanding, with something for everyone, including green cottages, farm stays, eco hotels, eco-friendly hostels or homestays.
The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. It adds: “Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel.” The International Organisation for Standardisation has created an ISO standard for tourism and related services, focusing on the requirements for “sustainability management system for accommodation establishments”.
This standard relates to all types of organisations in the tourism sector and promotes the “need to address sustainability issues in their practices”.
“The document provides requirements for a sustainability management system for accommodation establishments that wish to develop and implement sustainable policies and objectives in the management of their activities, products and services,” ISO states. The system aims to promote social and sustainable change and contribute to local communities and economies.
These establishments strive to minimise their consumption of natural resources, energy or emissions and take care to reducing the environmental impact during waste treatment.
Eco-friendly accommodation also aims to help society as well as nature, by supporting and building the resident community by consuming the products and services offered by the locals.
Sustainable hotels may also feature low-consumption (energy and water-saving) tips, use organic towels or bed sheets or they seek to reduce the use and reliance of heating and cooling systems.
When you are choosing your next travel destination and accommodation, opt for eco-friendly accommodation that does good by the planet and its people.
3. Bicycles & Public Transport
Be sure to pack your favourite pair of walking shoes and a day pack, as walking is one of the best ways to explore new cities and towns. You can travel at your own pace and explore the places you can’t get to by car or train, it’s great exercise too.
A folding bike or an electric scooter are also great, easy travel options.
Hiring a bicycle can be one of the best ways to get around and explore a city, they are quick and eco-friendly and you don’t need a manual to use one.
Riding a bike instead of using a car makes a significant impact on the environment, as you’re preventing the carbon emissions from being released, you are also improving your overall health and fitness and keeping those holiday calories at bay.
Another positive is that you can avoid the heavy on-road traffic and you don’t need to worry about filling up with petrol, so it reduces your transportation costs.
Public transport is also an awesome way to get around, you can travel by train, bus or ferry and it’s cheaper than a taxi or hire car and can almost always get you to where you want to go. Public transport reduces traffic congestion, ultimately reducing the number of gases released into the air. Flying direct routes is also a good way to minimise your carbon footprint as take-off is when planes produce their greatest emissions. Flying with low-cost airlines is a clever way to travel as the airlines have a higher likelihood of filling their seats which reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
If you need a car, aim to hire the most eco-friendly one available. This could an electric car if it is possible for the destination and resources available, or just choose a car that’s the size you need. There’s no point in hiring a massive car if it’s just for you and a small suitcase.
4. Try Local Experiences
Do your research and try to find local experiences for you to enjoy while travelling. These can include homestays, cultural cooking classes, yoga sessions, surf lessons, local travel tour groups or hiring a local tour guide to take you around an island on their motorbike.
Through seeking out local experiences and adventures you can see firsthand that your money is being injected back into the local economy. Embrace cultural experiences and aim to find a tour company that is owned and operated by the Indigenous community or that give something back to the locals.
Try to find “green” tour companies, they often have a website page dedicated to their sustainably and eco-friendly actions.
It is always nice to embrace the local language, learn a few simple words like hello and thank you.
It’s also a good idea to ensure you are aware of the local customs, religious practices and beliefs, so you don’t go accidentally offending anyone.
Be sure to use these green, sustainable tips when you are planning or enjoying your next trip and create positive change for the planet and its people.