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7 Eco-tips for the Conscious Traveller
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Oscar Wilde said we should “live with no excuses and travel with no regrets.” Travelling the world is one of the most satisfying activities a human being can engage in, no doubt. But unfortunately, pollution doesn’t go on holiday as we do. Tourism accounts for nearly one-tenth of the world’s carbon emission. One the biggest challenge for the conscious world gallivanters is to offset the carbon cost of their flying.

Although travelling for leisure used to be relegated to wealthier ends of society, the first two decades of this century have seen travel becoming cheaper, faster and more accessible. According to National Geographic, in 2019, 1.4 billion people set out to explore new shores. The number of worldwide avid travellers is set to increase to 2 billion by 2030, which makes sustainability a pressing matter for the industry. But being sustainable travellers goes well beyond environmental-friendly practices. It entails supporting local communities as well as protecting cultural and natural heritage. Here are a few tips that will get us all excited about this new way of travelling.

Embrace Minimalist Packing

Here’s the challenge. Next time you pack for a short trip, pack no more than three outfits in a 30-45L backpack (accepted as carry-on luggage by most airlines). I recently went away to Italy for a week with what I could fit into a 30L. Much to my amazement, I didn’t miss anything I’d left at home! The lighter the load, the freer you’ll feel; and the lighter the plane, the less it consumes. Obviously this doesn’t apply to longer vacations, in which case, a 60L backpack or one large suitcase should do. And with these minimalist packing tips, I can assure you overpacking will be a habit of the past.

Choose Eco-containers

Those plastic mini-shampoo and conditioner bottles most airports conveniently place in the free duty zone? To be avoided at all costs. They’ll only end up in landfill later. Except if you’re re-using the ones you already have, in which case you’re definitely on the right path. We advocate using any suitable containers you may have until the very end of their product life. If you are in need of new ones, recycled bamboo-based or stainless steel items are the most eco-friendly. Platic-free kitchenware is the greenest option, which you can use to carry around your delicious foreign delicacy of choice.

Privilege Local Destinations

Thanks to low-cost airlines, most of us have all done our share of binge-flying in the last decade. While at the time we might have been oblivious to the long-term impact of it all, we all know better now. Considering its environmental impact, boarding kerosene-fuelled planes to jet off to a different European destination each month isn’t that enjoyable anymore. The good news is that airlines have been experimenting with a low-carbon, biofuel-based mixture, which pollutes 60% than standard fuels. And according to Scientific American, electric planes are in the works. But until this becomes a standardized practice in the industry, flying is still one of the most carbon-heavy activities. So in the near future, choosing a local destination can help decrease the carbon footprint of your holiday.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most exciting perspective if you live in a cold country and crave some sun. But if you are not weather-dependent, there’s plenty of destinations within the British Isles that make for great city and countryside getaways! According to the largest holiday destination engine Hometogo, the UK’s top eco-cities are Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh, all three well-know for their vegan food restaurants, a thriving party scene and access to incredible nature respectively. When it comes to countryside escapes, Devon, Wales and Scotland top the charts, thanks to their National Parks, recycling practices and air quality.

Walk the Slow Travel Path

Slow travel works with the same principles as slow food. The slower the process, the healthier it is. As opposed to the mass-tourist standard of packing as many activities as possible in a short amount of time, choose to connect with the community you are visiting, their culture, their traditions. Or pick a neighbourhood, and research or ask locals to direct you to the most frequent bars, eateries or music venues.

Eat Local, Seasonal and Plant-based

Our purchasing habits can really make a difference to the environment. If you’re in a foreign country, keep your footprint low and eat the most locally and seasonally possible. Buying anything imported from abroad will have a higher carbon footprint. By choosing to do so, your money will also support local businesses, and you’ll get to really digest the culture.

Another relatively simple way of decreasing your carbon footprint is to revel in a plant-based diet. It is no mystery that cattle farming is one of the most environmentally destructive human activities. It is the main force behind the current deforestation practices in the Amazon. And it is also one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases emissions. Need a little inspiration to take the leap of faith? This list of the most eco-friendly vegan and vegetarian cooking holidays around the world is bound to get you hyped.

Splash Out on Luxury Eco-accommodation

Everyone deserves a little luxury every now and then, and hotel stays can be the most relaxing part of the holiday. But locally-owned accommodation will always be more sustainable and authentic. Hotel chains play a big part in the current climate crisis, between the constant air-conditioning, energy-consuming spas and masses of towels washed and dried every day. Fortunately, the latest rise in eco-awareness has been the catalyst for the creation of many eco-lodges. National Geographic has already done the research for you, selecting the very best eco-lodges around the world. Apart from greener accommodation than the norm, many of these businesses are true conservationists efforts, which have aided the recovery of local biodiversity while giving local residents employment.

Last but not least… offset, offset, offset!

The golden rule of travelling sustainably is offsetting your footprint. To do so, you need to calculate exactly how much your getaway is costing the Planet. This Carbon Calculator, which will breakdown the carbon footprint of each of your daily activity, is a good place to start. It also offers the option to donate to certified emissions projects in the UK and abroad, such as tree-planting, local community projects and development of renewable energy sources.

Here at the Boiler House we dearly love to travel. We truly think travelling can become a force for good. After all, how else can we expand our minds and hearts than experiencing different cultures? What better way to realise that we’re all part of the same extended global family? We don’t necessarily advocate for drastic rationing of air travel. However, we love our home, our Planet. And we believe that by being a little more mindful in everything we do, our societies can turn a new, green leaf.

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17 / 12 / 2019 // Written by Sylvia Helen Goodrick
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