The desire to travel and explore is once again on our minds, with many of us currently looking to embrace our own beautiful home countries. More than ever, we are also aware of our planet and the impact of our actions upon it – for better or for worse. Sustainable and even ‘regenerative’ travel is possible, if we do it consciously.
A large amount of our travel carbon footprint is generated when we are moving from one location to another. If you do have a choice, taking a longdistance train or bus is a more planetfriendly option compared to a private car or an airplane. Depending on your travel destination, an eco-friendly mode of transportation may be impossible to select. You could then choose to offset your carbon emissions instead. There are many large certifiers who offer this, or you can use an online calculator and donate to an organisation (of your choice) which is working to capture carbon or generate renewable energy.
Choosing to stay in sustainable accommodation has an impact on both the environment and the local community. There are sustainable stays available for all budgets – from camping to hostels and luxurious resorts. However, it is necessary to do your research and make sure you are not simply being ‘greenwashed’. To make an informed choice, check out the accommodation’s website and look for a ‘Sustainability’ page. Or call them and ask – do they employ local staff and products? What kind of energy do they use? Do they have a waste - and water-recycling system? What do they do to invest in and support the surrounding community?
At your destination, walk or take public transport to get around. Also, don’t forget to pack reusable items. Bring a KeepCup, water bottle, reusable cutlery and tote bag to keep your plastic usage to a minimum.
Have a Positive Impact
The way we interact with the local community dictates the impact of our stay.
Support local businesses: This can include going to the local farmers’ market, buying in independent shops and having meals in local cafes.
Eco-tours: Choose tours that are environmentally sustainable and preferably employ local guides. By supporting these businesses, you’ll be contributing to the conservation of a culture that prioritises living in harmony with the land.
Wildlife sanctuaries: There are many wildlife sanctuaries focused on conservation and carbon-footprint reduction. The visiting fee supports the many initiatives which are being run from these locations.
I’ve always loved this saying when it comes to visiting the beach – “Take only photos, leave only footprints.” I believe this can be expanded to encapsulate ecoconscious travel too.
Let’s keep in mind the following when we travel: “Move consciously, stay sustainably, tread lightly and make a positive impact.
Emily Fletcher is the founder and head of Research & Education of the Australian Clean + Conscious Awards.