Your eco-friendly guide to travelling the globe like a #boss
Travelling can inherently be environmentally destructive. The carbon dioxide released from airplanes, the absence of recycling bins in many small towns, and the requirement for diesel fuel on long journeys is a damaging combination.
Luckily, there are many simple actions you can take to reduce your footprint and travel in an eco-friendly fashion.
Green Your Hygiene
I debated purchasing a shampoo bar for a few months before finally taking the plunge. I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made both financially and environmentally.
I chose a Lush shampoo bar and purchased the storage tin. It’s been almost three months with the same shampoo bar (I normally would have bought two bottles of shampoo in this timeframe).
I also recommend buying a bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste in a reusable container, and makeup with limited packaging. My final hygiene tip is to take shorter showers. You hear this frequently, but try to make an effort in places like the outback where water must often be brought in and treated to be safe to use.
When eating out or purchasing produce, choose local and organic as often as possible and support restaurants and café that go the extra mile in their sustainable practices.
In addition to the impact that what you eat has on the environment, how you eat also has a big influence. Not only will reusable products save you money in the long term, but you’ll reduce the number of single-use plastics you use.
Bring these items with you to reduce your use:
- Reusable Water Bottle – I recommend a Hydroflask because they keep liquids cold for 12 hours. You can always add a little personality by covering your water bottle in stickers from the places you visit.
- Straw for takeaway drinks – I learned the hard way that a straw cleaner is a necessity to avoid a moldy situation
- A Cutlery Set – you’ll never have to use a flimsy plastic fork again!
- Canvas Shopping Bag – you never know when you’ll buy groceries or end up with your hands full. Luckily, you can find a bag for $1 at just about any supermarket in Australia!
It’s always smart to carry copies of documents such as your passport, visa, medical documents, birth certificate, and credit cards. Instead of printing documents and storing them in your bag, keep a digital copy stored on your laptop or phone so you have access when needed. For any mailing lists you may be on, switch to the digital newsletters.
Every kilo on an airplane means more CO2 is being used to transport the plane. Pack light to reduce your footprint. Although it’s inevitable that your belongings will grow as you pick up souvenirs along the way, keep in mind that every kilo counts.
Use Public Transit
Sure, Uber is almost always easier. But a good ol’ bus or train is always cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Sydney’s Opal Card and either Google Maps or the Opal app makes it simple to get anywhere in the city via public transit. Busses even have places to keep your luggage while riding and trains run from the airport directly to central station.
Flip the Switch
Arguably, this is the simplest thing you can do. If you leave your hostel room and no one else is in the room, turn off the light. If you aren’t using the outlets in your room to charge anything, flip the switch to turn them off.
If you’re brushing your teeth, turn off the water. In other words, if you aren’t using it at that exact moment, flip the switch so you aren’t using any unnecessary resources.
Cost Offset Your Trip
When booking flights for most airlines, there is an option to add a few dollars to your price to help the airline offset the environmental destruction caused by your trip. It might cost a little more, but every little bit counts!
Ask Tour Companies What They Do
A majority of the tours I have been on did not separate recyclables from trash. Before you book your tours, call the companies and ask what they do to reduce their environmental impact. You may just encourage them to change their behavior.
Bringing home a little piece of each place you visit is a fundamental part of traveling. Shopping secondhand is one way to remember your experiences with less of an environmental impact and more of a story to tell. Vintage shops are abundant in Sydney’s Newtown and in Byron Bay, but my favorite spot to shop secondhand is at Glebe Markets, which operate every Saturday morning. The options and vendors change weekly, so you’re almost guaranteed to find a little piece of Australia to wear with pride.
Follow the Path Most Traveled
Exploring the natural landscapes of the places I travel is one of my favorite pastimes. Although it’s fantastic to try new things in life, following the established path when hiking is compulsory.
Not only will this prevent you from getting lost in the Australian wilderness where everything is trying to kill you (I’m talking about you, snakes and spiders), but you won’t destroy thriving plants and animal habitats by trampling with your feet. Finally, please take your rubbish, and any rubbish you find along the way, with you! Nature thanks you in advance.
Traveling doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive. Although these tips just scrape the surface, they will help reduce your carbon footprint. What do you do to travel in an eco-friendly fashion?
by Janine Denney-Mazzilli
Hi there! My name is Janine and I am a self-professed, travel obsessed foodie from Seattle. I recently graduated the University of Washington and am now living my Australian dream on a working holiday! Follow along on @janini133