Achieving a zero-waste travel lifestyle does not happen overnight. It takes awareness, time, and commitment for the small steps you take to change into a lifestyle. As a traveler, you are more exposed to the detrimental effects of unsustainable practices in various destinations. Whether it’s visiting your favorite tropical island in the Pacific or hiking the Himalayas, the impact we leave behind can create problems in the future. If you’re interested in transitioning into a Zero Waste traveler but is unsure how to, then here’s a cheat sheet you can use:
Find hotels and resorts that advocate eco-conscious ways to protect the environment
There are a lot of resorts who are actively changing the ways they run their businesses. Over the years, they have become more aware of the impact that could harm the environment because ultimately, their biggest asset is the natural attractions within their resorts. You would want to stay in hotels that do not allow single-use plastic. This means using metal or bamboo straws, providing pump bottles of shampoo and shower gels for their guests, and only using paper for takeaway food or drinks.
Tip: Do your own research before your trip. There are a lot of websites that features hotels and resorts that promote sustainability in their businesses.
Bring your own
As you complete your journey into a Zero Waste lifestyle, you will notice that your bag gets heavier because of water containers, straws, and utensils you carry around! This is actually a great way to avoid getting unnecessary containers and bags during your trip!
Pack your own shampoo, facial wash, toothbrush, and body wash! There are lot of traveler sized kits that are not only cheap, but are easy and light to carry in your bag, too. Bringing your own towel to freshen up instead of using facial tissue can also contribute to this advocacy.
Tip: How about trying shampoo bars? These come in small sizes and smell just as good! Another zero waste item you can try are bamboo toothbrushes! These are biodegradable unlike plastic toothbrushes you find in your resorts.
Do not leave anything behind
When you bring your own containers, you lessen the amount of waste you leave behind. This is not an easy practice to get used to, but remember that the environment is degrading at the cost of our convenience. As you walk along the trail or by the beach, remember this simple rule: take three for the sea. Every time your travel, take at least three pieces of waste/garbage, as your contribution to saving the planet.
If you love the planet as much as you love traveling, you will do everything and anything to protect her. These simple steps, no matter how seemingly small, will go a long way when practiced by more travelers everywhere in the world.
Travelling responsibly: 5 Sustainable choices in every traveler’s itinerary
What exactly does sustainable travel mean? This term has gained popularity over the past years, especially to the younger travelers, yet it can sound a little overwhelming and confusing sometimes for people who hear about it the first time. To make it simple, ‘sustainable travel’ means being conscious of the impact of your travel, proactively reducing the negative effect or your travel to the environment and society. Find a way to make a place better after visiting it. So what exactly can you do?
Support the local community (or companies that support local communities)
In every place you travel to, find a way to eat and shop locally. There’s nothing like the excitement of trying a small town’s local delicacy! It’s a great way to understand their culture and history, which ultimately shows that you respect them. Support locally run resorts and hotels, too. You’d be surprised by how much hospitality they give when you stay with them.
Look for eco-friendly tour groups
Most eco-friendly tour groups have an advocacy or a cause. This is what makes joining one a critical step in making sustainable choices when you travel. Not only will you be able to support the locals, you will also support a bigger cause for the environment or for their group.
After your travel, it’s standard to find time to buy souvenirs for friends and family who were not able to join your trip. While it shows a lot of thoughtfulness, ask yourself this: will he or she find use for this item? If you are unsure, then you are probably just buying more items to pile on as clutter. While there are a lot of gifts that could be used more than once, you must ultimately know how to distinguish a ‘want’ from a ‘need’. If you must buy your gifts, don’t forget to bring an ecobag!
We all know that beef has one of the highest carbon footprint. Skipping burgers and steaks might not seem like you’re creating a lot of impact, but with the commitment to make it a lifestyle, you may actually be making a difference. If you’re not completely convinced yet, why not try going ‘meat-less’ on some of your vacation days? It’s healthy, earth-friendly, and it will definitely make you feel good and energized! It’s also a good opportunity to try local fruits and vegetables during your trip.
Reduce carbon emissions by taking public transportation or walking to your next stop
Go see town and take an adventure by trying local public transportation! Or better yet- walk the scenic route to your next destination. It’s a good workout, too! If you have the choice between taking a short haul flight or traveling by public bus, subway, or train, then take the latter because it produces less carbon.
It will take a lot to get used to but the first step- being eco-conscious- is already a long way. Change the way your travel and inspire others to do the same 🙂
Chris Gannon lives in Fort Lauderdale with his wife and 2 young daughters and is the Editor-in-Chief at Clean Finds. He enjoys helping readers learn more about living responsibly by writing primarily about conscious consumerism, green business trends, and environmental conservation.