two people on a beach

If crystal blue waters become jet black, we’ve failed as humans…

Even if humanity doesn’t always make it feel that way, the world is an extraordinary place and must be explored. In pursuit of understanding, beauty, culture and crystal clear waters, travel is the greatest journey anyone can embark on, and unlike many things in life, it never leaves you. Unfortunately, the trails of waste we create as we navigate the globe don’t either. Tourism, and the travel industries that support it are some of the most wasteful industries, and if we really want crystal blue waters, perfect beaches, beautiful wildlife and natural wonders to carry on in all their boundless glory, it’s important to take care of the planet, any way we can. Next time you set out on your travels, consider these small steps to help do your part. And we’ll try not to mention flying less – even though we probably should.

a jacuzzi in a hotel roomTowels

You may have seen notices in hotels asking you to reuse towels. Although it certainly doesn’t hurt them, this is not just a money and time saving trick from your favorite hotel mega corp. Reusing towels saves huge amounts of water and electricity in each room, and when you think about hotel rooms and suites globally, it really adds up. Do you really need your towels washed every single day? Hotel rooms are wonderfully dry spaces, so hanging up a towel in the morning generally means dry towels for pre dinner shower. Hotels need to make their instructions clearer, too.

a plate of food with chopsticksLocal

Eating and drinking local is just the best. Not only is it generally the best way to tantalize your taste buds and expand your palate, but by eating and drinking the local produce – you help local communities and farmers prosper, all while simultaneously cutting down on the carbon footprint caused by importing things on planes, trains, cars and camels. Plus, it probably tastes better! Fresh is good.

a group of boats on a riverB’n’Tree

Next time you booking a trip, head to B’n’Tree first. You can click through their links to most of your favorite travel booking sites, like TripAdvisor, Agoda and more – and every time you make a booking, they plant a tree – for free. This is a wonderful concept and helpful in so many ways – so for the same price, why wouldn’t you! We love this.

a water fall in a glass domeWater

Water is essential to life, but plastic is not. You should take a reusable water bottle with you wherever you travel, even if it’s just to the office. A reusable water bottle is perfect for keeping hydrated while flying, and you can take it through security empty and fill it up the other side for free. We love the T2 flasks as they keep your drink hot or cold for hours. And by hot or cold, we really mean it. Whatever temperature you close the bottle at will be the temperature you get about 4 hours later. But don’t stop there. Keep track of how long you spend in the shower, and even if your hotel offers a crazy jacuzzi tub, think of how much water you may be wasting. And the easiest one of all? Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. Those minutes matter.

a field of pink flowersBrands

Some hotels, airlines, restaurants and travel brands take their global environmental impact very seriously, either through charitable causes or direct initiatives to cut down on waste. Many of the best hotel brands use local materials to build hotels, local produce to feed guests and local staff to tend to the properties. The best airlines suggest donations to offset your carbon footprint on each flight, or have committed to aircraft which reduce fuel consumption, noise and other earth friendly initiatives. No matter how much you hate cardboard straws, every little bit helps. Qantas, Virgin Atlantic1Hotels, Six Senses and Singita are just a few travel brands heavily committed to  offsetting their impact. If this kinda stuff matters to you, do some quick research and see which companies are on the same page.

a bag with a variety of items on itPackaging

Some of the most beautiful, dreamy destinations in the world happen to be small remote islands, many of which don’t have the same waste management facilities larger resort style places would. If you’re lucky enough to head to one of these destinations (or just anywhere), be mindful of how much waste you are unnecessarily leaving behind. What comes with you should leave with you. The more remote the location, the more important it is to bring that empty deodorant home with you, rather than just chucking it.

a close up of a jet engineGetting Around

When it comes to seeing the very best of the world, we just can’t avoid taking planes, trains, busses or cars to get there – yet. But when you arrive, there are lots of fun options which not only help your carbon footprint, but your step count too. Next time you’re in a major city, try a bicycle tour instead of bus tour, try walking to your meeting instead of taxiing or take that offer from your colleague to at least double up on the cab. It’s been said that taking one singular less flight per person, per year can greatly offset the world’s carbon footprint. If the direct option is the same price as the connection, do the right thing, even if you’re obsessed with points.

a river with a city and mountains in the backgroundBags

Plastic bags are a leading cause in the increasing number of endangered species and can take hundreds of years to decompose in nature. If you love to shop, and we’ll assume you just might – bring your own totes around with you. Not only can they come in handy when you need to carry extras as hand luggage, but whenever you’re out and about shopping around the world, you can refuse a plastic bag. You can find so many styles, colors and patterns all at easy prices, so there should be no excuse. And before you play the “wasted luggage space card” try folding one up.

a cup of coffee with a latte artRubbish

Whether you’re wandering along a soft, sandy beach half way around the world or walking your dog in a local park, if you see rubbish on the ground, pick it up and put in the trash. Or better yet, recycle it. Don’t be the lazy person that assumes someone else will. That’s how fish and other vital animals die. If every one person did this, the world would be a better place. And even simpler – don’t ever litter!

a man and woman standing next to luggageTravel Light

Traveling carry on only is more than just a pipe dream. It’s actually really easy if you pack your carry on correctly. Not only will you save yourself some travel bucks allowing you to splurge on things at your destination, you’ll also help cut down on waste and fuel consumption. The lighter the load, the less fuel needs to be loaded and burned, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why that’s a good thing. If this happened on every flight, global oil consumption would reduce drastically. Won’t it be nice when electric planes take flight?

What’s The Best Eco Friendly Place You’ve Ever Stayed?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Post should be titled “10 steps to be hypocritically smug and self righteous while having the carbon footprint of a small town”

    1. I’ll do anything I can to help protect what’s left of this world beautiful, even if it’s a small impact, it sounds like it’s doing a lot more good than you.

      1. Yeah right. Small actions are irrelevant if your big actions don’t change. I’m sure you are of the ilk that believes CO2 is an evil molecule that will result in the oceans boiling away, yet you continue to engage in the most CO2 intensive activity on earth. But if reusing towels soothes your guilt, then good for you. I don’t need to be told to not be wasteful and use resources efficiently. I just do it because it’s common sense, not because I believe that it will save the earth or give me an unearned sense of self satisfaction.

        1. So just for an abundance of clarity: you’re giving me s**t for encouraging people to do the same things you say you do automatically, because of “common sense”? I’m failing to see the harm in helping encourage others to be as wise and sensical as you are…

          And as if you don’t travel.

          Unlike other interactions today, this is why I do consider deleting the comments section. I’ve wasted far too many breaths of CO2 on this useless commentary.

  2. I think this was a wonderful article. We must all do our part to make the world a better place. And, by being mindful and following your suggestions we can all contribute.

  3. I’m not sure it matters anymore. We’ve already passed the tipping point with no sign of slowing down. My view is to consume as much as I can. If I don’t, it’s just more for someone else to consume.

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