Travel is a privilege that many of us pursue and put on a pedestal – a rolling list of exotic places to check off this lifetime, and maybe the next. While we’re all for acting on a nagging sense of wanderlust, these days, what’s been weighing on our minds more is the declining state of Earth. Even if you’re not up to date on the latest environmental issues (and there are many), surely you’ve already heard elsewhere that our glaciers are fast melting, our animals are going extinct at an alarming rate unlike previous generations, and pollution is at an all-time high. Just that day I read that giraffes are officially categorised as endangered species, and it made my heart sink a little.
It got me thinking – especially after my recent trip to South America where I lived pretty much off-the-grid and so close to nature (visualise a countryside cottage with a private lake half the size of MacRitchie Reservoir, complete with wild ducks, chickens, monkeys and dogs) – if there’s anything I could do at all the help preserve the beauty I was graced with. All that, without giving up on travel entirely because, god forbids, right? Recently I’ve also read that tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is quite startling – but this isn’t one of those articles where the writer stands on a moral high ground and point a finger at the world. I’m just bummed that in order to see the rest of the world, the planet literally has to pay for us. Surely there must be simple steps we can take to do good by Earth while racking up those miles?
Simple Ways to Make Your Travel Greener
Give away fresh groceries or freeze leftover foods.
Travelling sustainably starts at home, before you even leave for the airport. We know it can be hard to gauge how much to cook for each meal sometimes, and there’s bound to be leftover food or fresh produce you’ve not gotten round to using, stored away in your fridge. Instead of letting them rot in storage during your time away, why not extend your neighbourly goodwill and share them? IUIGA has a variety of food storage containers that are perfect for this. Though it may not amount to much money, food waste has a more significant environmental cost. In fact, a shocking 20% of the food goes to landfill, where it’s unable to decompose because it’s trapped in inorganic matter (read: plastic bags). These preserved organics then release methane, which is a huge contributor to climate change!
Put your home to sleep while you’re away.
Before hitting the road, allow your home sweet home to catch up on those zzz’s and recalibrate. Make sure you turn off all lights and unplug – not just switch off – your electronics. This helps to reset the vibrational energy of your home while you’re away, ensuring you return to a less hazardous environment.
Bringing along your zero-waste kit can’t hurt.
I’ve always lamented at the sheer amount of waste produced during a single flight. If – like me – you die a little inside every time your flight neighbour asks for water and get it served in a plastic cup, only to be thrown away after a single use, carrying your own sustainable cutleries, bottle and straw is a great way to feel better about contributing to a greener Earth. It helps you clear your conscience… Well, a little. Thankfully, these wares are seldom bulky, which means they take up almost no space at all in your carry-on, like this IUIGA Flat Water Bottle! Psst. You’ll probably be doing some shopping too, so don’t forget to bring a few reusable bags! They’ve always come in super handy for me.
Provenance is key. Support local craft, shop at local markets, and eat local produce.
Whenever I travel, I always love buying from local craftsmen because there’s sentimentality tied to the piece of handicraft. It also has a lot to do with respecting provenance. Aside from being an object of wonderful storytelling and memories, supporting local small businesseses also help the community to thrive sustainably in the long run.
Did you know: when you buy an imported item, it actually causes more harm than good? Not only does buying local craft reduce the pollution from transporting the goods, it also supports real people and everyday families – not some large, faceless, multi-national corporations. Plus, local crafts have that extra charm, making them the perfect souvenirs for your friends and family back home! This limited edition red IUIGA luggage is the best way to lug those goodies back home.
Take the road less travelled, by bike or on foot.
Each time you find yourself at a new place, grow that adventurous spirit of yours a little more, and explore what the area has to offer. Walk as the locals do, or rent a bike to explore further! You never know what the next turn might bring, or what worlds may collide in that unassuming building down the street. To be able to mingle with the locals always bring me a new perspective to life and a certain joy within.
Leave the seashells at the beach.
Though they are pretty to keep, don’t pick the seashells, flowers or leaves from their natural habitats. It may seem like a small and harmless gesture, but it damages the ecosystem and puts the animals who need them at risk.
Don’t engage in animal activities or support wildlife products.
This is almost a duh by now, but it can be surprisingly difficult to truly commit to when you’re faced with an activity that promises you an unsurpassed close encounter with wild animals. Except, you need to ask yourself this: at what cost?
For safety reasons, most wild animals involved are heavily-drugged for these photoshoots. We’d also ask you to avoid animal rides as well, because the training behind closed doors is physically harmful and emotional wrecking for these gentle beings (just search them on YouTube and you’ll never unsee the truth). And while we’re at it, it’s also important to boycott all wildlife products such as ivory, shell, skins, and furs etc. for obvious reasons.
Opt for eco-friendly accommodations.
Convenience often comes at the expense of the environment when it comes to accommodations, but some hotels are implementing systems to reduce their impact. For example, Listol Hotel in Vancouver uses solar panels and a heat-capture program to reduce its energy footprint. It also features restaurants that boast sustainable, local menus, and has been zero waste since 2011. Way to go!
Until the aviation industry comes up with radical methods to travel sustainably, there’s little we can do about that. But next time you’re travelling, remember this article for the simple, easy-to-commit ways you can follow to be a more responsible traveller than your last trip. After all, regardless of where your wanderlust may transport you to, we can’t escape this planet, so don’t you want to save it?
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