A guest blog by Gemma Harris
It's holiday season - hooray!
Innovation and technology have shrunk our world, allowing us to travel to near enough all of its corners. Today, with the rise in eco-tourism and green holidays, we are becoming more socially and environmentally conscious than ever, but how do we continue this momentum to ensure that we travel lighter and reduce our environmental impact?
Here are a few ideas:
Deciding where to go
Deciding where you are going to go on holiday is the most exciting, but it can also be the most damaging. Some countries are being affected by environmental pressures more so than others, especially those with fragile ecosystems. You can reduce your environmental impact by choosing your destination wisely. The non-profit organisation, Ethical Traveller produces an annual list of the 10 best countries to visit in terms of social and environmental factors. If you usually travel with a tour operator, when planning your holiday check out the company’s green initiatives or look up operators via Responsible Travel. If you want to add another dimension and purpose to your holiday, there are also plenty of conservation volunteer projects to get involved with.
Of course, the other thing to consider is the impact of the journey (see below) and a ‘staycation’ is of course a good option to reduce the impact.
Start as you mean to go on. Before heading off, be conscientious in your packing. Eliminate single use plastic from your luggage, pick your toiletries wisely, take your own reusable shopping bag for any souvenirs you pick up and pack a reusable water bottle, so that you can make sure you say no to plastic when on holiday. In terms of clothing, there are an increasing number of environmentally friendly clothing brands, for summer holidays try out sustainable swimwear brands such as Stay Wild Swim.
You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to know that probably the single biggest impact in the world of holidaying is the carbon emissions through air travel. Although it isn’t always viable, try to look at different options on your journey. Switching air travel for driving or train travel means less environmental impact. If there isn’t another option for travel then at least choose to fly non-stop, which is more efficient. When you are at your destination, choose public transport or human powered ways to explore to keep your impacts low. And, you can always offset the carbon impact of your journey too.
Before you book your accommodation, do your homework, see what the place is doing to reduce their environmental impacts. Worldwide, there is now an increasing range of eco-friendly accommodations, from tree houses, lodges to hotels. From solar powered energy, no plastic policies, serving local produce, being built from recycled materials to water saving techniques there are various methods in which accommodations are implementing to create a greener stay for their guests. Check out the Eco B&B platform, which has a selection of searchable sustainable accommodation.
Be aware of the things that you do when you are away and how they are impacting the environment. The greenest thing you can do on holiday is to enjoy your surroundings by getting in touch with nature and relaxing. Choose lower impact activities such as walking, cycling and camping. Be mindful of responsible sightseeing which support the local community and protect the sights. On holiday, eating and drinking are usually part of the experience, so to ensure your impact is minimal always choose to eat locally and sustainably, not only will this immerse yourself in the local culture, it is better for the environment. Many of us find ourselves by the sea and eating lots of fish, so make sure you check out the MCS Good Fish Guide so you know what fish to avoid.
Going to the beach?
If your holiday is by the sea you can always take two minutes to do a #2minutebeachclean (https://beachclean.net/ ). This project which Sea-Changers part funded during it’s set up is based on the belief that every piece of litter removed from the beach matters. So it doesn’t matter if you do 2 minutes or 30. Each and every piece of marine plastic removed from the beach is a piece that will no longer go on to kill. Thousands of people all over the globe have used their hashtag for their beach cleaning activities, thereby raising awareness as well as removing litter.
Finally, when it comes to souvenirs to remind you of your holiday, there are also some things to think about. The World Wildlife Fund has provided some tips to help you avoid unsustainable and damaging holiday purchases.