Okay, this all may sound like I’m trying to prevent you from having fun overseas. I’m not, as realistically I know you’ll probably still travel, but I do think that we all have a responsibility to try and be as green as we can while we’re taking a trip. If you’re going to use the planet as your playground, the very least you can do is try and tidy up as you go!
Fly Less, Reduce Carbon Offsetting
First off, carbon offsetting doesn’t mean that you can conveniently forget what harm you’re doing to the environment by flying around the world. The bottom line is that we all need to fly less. However, the likelihood is that you are going to take at least a couple of flights for your trip, so one option at least to try to counterbalance the damage is carbon offsetting. This means calculating your carbon emissions from the length of time you’ll be flying and converting that into monetary total.-->
It might look complicated at first glance, but there are plenty of companies available to help you calculate your emissions quickly and simply and which then give you the option to put this sum towards a green scheme, such as tree planting or solar ovens. There are of websites offering a quick calculation service, such www.co2balance.uk.com, www.climatecare.org and www.carbonfootprint.com
Ironically, the fact that more people than ever before are jetting off around the world has also seen some benefits to the environment. The positive effects of tourism include the preservation of rainforests and protecting animals close to extinction. Without the tourist draw, and revenue, animals such as the elephant or rhino, for example, would almost certainly by teetering on the brink of extinction in Africa and India.
You don’t have to fly! If you are going for a long period of time, you have the luxury of opting for greener modes of transport to get around. Travelling by train is a good alternative. Eurostar claims that it generates ten times less carbon dioxide than planes that fly the same routes, such as London to Paris.
Taking public transport rather than getting around privately wherever you go is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. If you’ve got the time, take buses for overland trips. In cities, hop in a human powered rickshaw rather than a taxi, its carbon neutral, or take a metro if available. Exploring a destination by bike is cheap, green and most of all fun, plus you’re keeping fit too.
And of course the humble foot is a great, and green, mode of transport. A walking trip, such as trekking has many benefits, from to interacting with the environment. Of course, you may have taken a plane to reach your destination, which is detrimental to the environment and means that your trip isn’t truly green, plus some argue that large numbers of walkers can be damaging to the environment, particularly if they leave debris such as plastic water bottles.
Staying Green Where You Stay
One of the best ways of doing your bit for the environment while you’re away is by staying in eco or green accommodation. Hotels are responsible for a huge drain on energy resources, from 24/7 air conditioning, heating and lighting, to mass usage of lots of non-degradable products, like plastic spoons and shampoo bottles.
Eco Hotels of the World (www.ecohotelsoftheworld.com) is independent and offers information on some of the greenest places to stay on the planet. Hotels can’t pay to be on the site and it doesn’t accept commission on bookings, so you know that the editor’s advice really is independent.
Be careful, standards of green accommodation vary around the world. It can be quite tricky to establish what’s authentic and what’s not, particularly if you only information is from a website. The problem is, some hotels are riding the green wave without actually doing anything to lessen their impact on the environment, so in order to be sure it’s a truly green establishment, here a few questions to ask before booking your hotel: