Five ways to reduce your environmental footprint when travelling overseas

The battle to save our environment has reached almost critical proportions and it is now up to every individual to take responsibility for the carbon footprint left in their wake. Air travel, as well as many other forms of transport, is a major source of concern among environmentalists and those who travel overseas should ensure that as much of their journey as possible is also as ‘green’ as possible.  If even the smallest effort is made by every overseas traveller, the impact on our environment can be significant. Here are five ways in which overseas travellers can make their contribution to a cleaner and healthier planet.

Accommodation

Thankfully many hotels have heeded the call to save the planet’s natural resources by reducing water and energy usage and keeping the amount of solid waste that they produce to a minimum. A number of online sites provide information on ‘green hotels’ that are to be congratulated for their efforts in this regard. These establishments use low-energy light bulbs and avoid wasteful product packaging wherever possible. Some will provide drinking water on request only. These are only a few of many measures that create a safer and healthier environment for staff and guests.

Transportation

At destinations where the public transport system is reliable, this should be used. Renting a car should be done as a last resort and, when it cannot be avoided, car hire companies such as National Car, that provide highly reliable and fuel-efficient vehicles, should be considered. Walking is a great way of experiencing the landscape of foreign destinations. If greater distances are involved, then cycling provides a wonderful and sustainable method of transport. Both of these healthier options will help to burn off those extra calories that can be accumulated by trying out foreign cuisines.

Restaurants

Many restaurants can be found around the world that are committed to obtaining their foods from sustainable sources. This includes wines sourced from biodynamic vineyards; even furniture will have been manufactured from reclaimed materials. Diners are assured that products are both local and seasonal, as well as having been prepared in the most fuel-efficient manner possible without sacrificing on flavour.

Consider the supply chain involved with bringing food to your plate – eating like a local is usually the best way to reduce your footprint. If you’re travelling in the East and eating imported Western food, thats going to have a long and potentially environmentally damaging supply chain. Eating local food prepared with fresh local ingrediants is the best way to not only ensure the food your eating isn’t putting unneccesary strain on the environment but also that you’re experiencing the true taste of your destination.

Toiletries

Most hotels will provide essentials such as shampoo and toothpaste, so that bringing your own is really just wasteful, extra packaging. If circumstances demand that you bring your own, then use refillable bottles wherever possible.

When staying in hotels, reuse towels rather than leaving them out for cleaning each day.

Shopping

The cheap, plastic souvenirs that are purchased by most travellers usually end up being discarded at some point. Sharing everyday items such as newspapers or magazines with fellow travellers, or dropping them into a recycling bin when done will reduce your carbon footprint.

Joining the rapidly expanding and worldwide community of environmentally aware overseas travellers is a means for every individual to make a contribution to the well-being of our planet. In exchange, humanity will receive cleaner air and water and the promise of many healthy tomorrows.

About the author: John is a travel writer from the UK with an interest in green issues.

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