Reducing your carbon footprint is something that we all need to try to achieve. But this becomes increasingly difficult when tourism is added to the equation. Traveling can be harmful to the environment without us even realizing it. In addition to increased CO2 emissions from aircraft travel, many holiday resorts and hotels are built on natural areas that have become negatively impacted by the tourism industry.
It’s safe to say that most tourists aren’t exactly eco-friendly when it comes to enjoying a holiday abroad and most of the time it’s not their fault. Many people aren’t aware of their impact on the environment, but there are ways you can reduce the effect that mass tourism has on the planet.
What is Sustainable Travel?
Sustainable travel focuses on discovering ways to maintain tourism long-term without causing additional harm to the planet. When you start researching sustainable travel and learn more about it, you’ll soon realize that it doesn’t concentrate on any one particular thing. In fact, it looks at three.
These three things are often referred to as the “three pillars of sustainable travel,” i.e. ecological, economic and social. When you closer at these three pillars, you’ll see that they focus on the following:
- Conserving the Natural Environment
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Supporting Cultural Projects
So, now that we know a little more about sustainable travel, let’s reflect on the things you can do to travel sustainably:
Protect the Natural Environment
When you’re traveling, never leave any rubbish behind when hiking up a mountain or sunbathing on the beach. Litter is a huge problem for many countries, so try to reduce your impact on the natural environment by taking all of your rubbish with you when you leave.
Another great way to help protect the natural environment is by using less plastic. Instead of buying a new bottle of water every time you run out, take a flask and fill it up with water. You can buy a flask with a water filter to be on the safe side and so some research to see if the local tap water is safe to drink.
Support Local Businesses
You can help support local people and their businesses by buying food and groceries etc. from them rather than shopping at huge supermarkets. Local producers often sell their goods at market stalls, so take a look around and try to eat locally grown food as much as possible. This is also a great way to cut back on travel costs while you’re abroad since locally sourced food tends to be cheaper.
Stay in Eco-Friendly Accommodation
Look for sustainable accommodation options that use things like energy-efficient lighting and recycled furniture etc. Camping is another excellent option that can help you to travel more sustainably, make sure you don’t disturb your surroundings and take everything you brought with you.
Amsterdam is already ahead of the curve and leading the way towards more sustainable travel with clean air and cycling being a way of life for the locals. Eco-friendly hotels are huge in the country with many luxury and affordable hotels using things like organic towels and recycled furniture. Sustainable accommodation doesn’t end there either. Over 60% of household waste is recycled or reused, which makes Amsterdam one of the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly countries in the world.
Use Alternative Means of Transport
Flying is one of the most convenient and accessible means of transport. But there’s still plenty of other ways you can help reduce your carbon footprint while you’re still on the ground. Taking public transportation is recommended because it saves fuel and helps to reduce the number of cars and vehicles on the roads.
You can also travel more sustainably by cycling or walking when possible. Again, Amsterdam is a huge advocate for cycling, and you’re likely to find more cyclists on the roads than drivers. But the rest of the world is still playing catch up, so if you can walk or cycle instead of taking a taxi or private car, you’ll be doing the planet a massive favor.As you can see, sustainable travel IS possible. You just need to know how and then be willing to go out and do it. Although it might feel like you can’t do much to help the environment on your own, even the smallest action can make a difference. So, the next time you’re traveling to foreign countries and experiencing new cultures, ask yourself if you can be more sustainable somehow and then follow suit!