Even though humanity suffered, nature thrived. We have seen that when human activities pause, the quality of both air and water improves. Animals returning to the city, air pollution decreased, canals being cleared. For a long time, we have done more harm than good.
We all leave a footprint behind. It reflects in the companies we support, the way we commute, our diet and our waste. Just to name a few. Increased consciousness on the way we travel is one step in the right direction. How can we make sure we take this as an unexpected opportunity to leave some of the old ways behind?
Stay within borders
After a year of traveling within our own countries, we might have realized that often we don’t need to travel abroad to enjoy some time away from home. We have beautiful towns, coastlines and nature to discover and you might have just started to appreciate this. There is no need to change this once we are allowed to air travel again. Instead of booking all your holidays outside the borders of your own country, plan a few staycations as well. They can differ from one or two-day trips closeby to a proper break exploring a region nearby.
With airlines close to bankruptcy, it’s very likely that ticket prices will be sky-high. This will make us rethink why we need that flight in the first place and whereto. You will see that many destinations are easily reached by car or train. It will reduce your carbon footprint dramatically! There are beautiful trips to make by train, hopping from one beautiful place to another. Another way of eco-friendly transportation is cycling. When road tripping by car, try to cover small distances by renting a bike. No emissions, no resources being used and it’s great for your physical condition.
If it’s not possible and taking a flight is required, offset your emissions. With some airlines and travel organizations, you can immediately indicate when booking that you want to compensate for CO2 emissions from your flight. You then pay an amount on top of the travel sum. The airline or travel organization transfers this to a company that provides climate compensation. You can also arrange your climate compensation yourself via the internet. You transfer an amount with which trees are planted or projects for sustainable energy are financed.
Support the right businesses
Many local businesses have suffered from a year without tourists. Cities, regions and even countries highly depend on temporary visitors spending money. Soon they will need us more than ever before. But we have the possibility to support businesses that try to reduce their carbon footprint. We already help the environment by just rethinking where our money goes. What does your travel insurance agency do to reduce its footprint? Is your bank investing in the right initiatives? Are you supporting businesses that are mindful and efficient about what goes to landfills? Does your car rental compensate for your emissions? Look into hotels that are reducing their footprints by the way they recycle their waste, the food they offer and the amount of plastic used. Support countries that make eco-friendly traveling easier, encouraging others to do the same.
Other ways of supporting locals are by buying fruit and vegetables from the market and ask which ones are seasonal and locally produced. Locally sourced food will also generally result in a lower footprint as it helps the environment by cutting down on the packaging, transport and high-intensity farming process needed for out-of-season foods. And it’s cheaper. Ask them how they would prepare it and what to combine it with. It’s the best way to learn about the local cuisine!
Your own behavior
Of course, it all starts with the way you behave. Re-use your bathroom towel and only throw the used ones on the floor to be replaced. Don’t use the mini toiletries as they are thrown away once opened. Don’t fill up your breakfast plate while only eating half of it. Limit your overall waste and recycle where possible.
Want more inspiration on changing your perspective? Read more on what the African philosophy of Ubuntu teaches us about genuine relationships.
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Interview: In pursuit of a truly slow life at The Kip in Sri Lanka