Contributed by guest author Hannah Wing from Cotopaxi
Traveling is an incredible way to see the world, gain an understanding of other cultures, and acquire a rich variety of experiences. However, travel is one of the biggest sins contributing to our individual carbon footprints. Here are a few tips to help you save the earth while you explore it.
Buy Carbon Offset
Air travel makes the biggest impact on the environment, but is nearly impossible to avoid–you can’t exactly walk or drive over an ocean. Luckily, more and more airlines are offering carbon offsets. For a small fee, you can fund an action that will remove the amount of carbon that was released by your portion of the flight, such as planting a tree or supporting more energy-efficient technologies.
Choose Accommodations Wisely
Many lodging options are making an effort to go green. Do a little research before deciding on your place of temporary residence so you can support environmentally responsible businesses. Your ecotourist destination is one Internet search away.
Practice Eco-friendly Land Travel
Once you get to your destination, ditch the taxi or the rental car whenever possible. Take public transportation if it’s available. Or, even better, get to know the area personally by traveling on foot or by bike.
Unplug Before You Leave
One of the biggest ways to save energy during your travels actually happens before you set foot out the door. Unplug any appliances that sap electricity even while not in use, such as microwaves, televisions, alarm clocks, lamps, and computers. Make sure all lights and heating/AC units are off before you go, and put a hold on your newspaper subscription.
Keep Up Good Habits
Don’t forget to keep doing the little things, even when you’re far from home. Try to take shorter showers (especially in areas where water is scarce), opt for a reusable water bottle over plastic ones, and be sure to turn off the lights and air conditioning before you leave for the day. If you’re staying at a hotel, request for your linens to be changed every few days rather than every morning.
Careful What You Buy
In a lot of places you’ll be visiting, tourism is one of the driving forces of the economy, so be conscious about where you’re spending your money. Try to support local businesses and restaurants–not only is this socially sustainable, but it cuts down on environmental hazards associated with mass production and transportation. Choose souvenirs that are made locally as well, but be sure they aren’t made from protected animal or plant products.
Travel should offer respite from everyday stresses, so don’t let guilt tarnish your adventures. Take a little care to be conscientious, and the only mark you’ll leave is a good impression on the people and places you encounter.
Hannah Wing is a Cotopaxi staff writer. Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty relief, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.