Is Sustainable Traveling Possible and How to Offset My Carbon Footprint?
Before we talk about sustainability in travel, the question is what does sustainable mean in travel? Sustainability in general means meeting the needs without compromising the ability to continue over a long period. In relation to the environment, it also means being responsible to conserve natural resources and protect global ecosystems for now and the future. “Sustainable Travel” and “Eco Tourism” have been discussed a lot recently since Global Warming and Climate Change became worldwide challenging issue.
What impact TRAVELING has on Climate Change?
Tourism sector is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions which causes global warming. When we travel, carbon emissions are generated throughout our trips. While flying by plane is the largest contributor, any other activities such as using air-con and riding on a taxi generate carbon emissions as well.
Other indirect contributors are:
- Developing roads and accommodations also cause degrading ecosystems that leads to global warming
- Toiletries, food, and other guest amenity wastes send to landfills
Can traveling be sustainable?
Tourism has been and will be vital for economic growth around the world and there are many benefits on host destinations. While traveling also gives us many physical and mental benefits, we will continue traveling.
If we look at only how much greenhouse gas is produced, traveling always has negative impact on climate change. However, there are ways that tourism can be maintained long-term without harming natural and cultural environments. Stop traveling is not the solution to save the planet.
How to turn your trip better for the environment?
Make your trip closer to your home as possible
The farther from home you travel, the more fuel you burn. Before deciding you destination, think about the purpose of your trip. For example, if what you want is a spa resort by beach, you may find a perfect place close to your hometown instead flying to another country.
Think about whether it is possible to do something similar that just doesn’t involve flying. Is there anything closer by that enables you to do something similar? For example, have a quiet time, enjoy time with your family, have a fan…
Discover Different Types of Vacations
Reassess how you get there
We try to get to the main destination as quickly and cheaply as possible. Flying is usually the fastest option, but are there any better ways to travel? Especially for medium to short distance travels, you will reduce significant carbon footprint by getting onto a coach or a train. Ground transports are usually cheaper and sometimes faster than air travel for shorter distances. You can also look at fully escorted or semi assisted train travel. Going slowly often can actually make your vacation more relaxing and stress free.
Do not waste
It is easy to chose convenience over sustainability while traveling. Because you are on the vacation, items like disposable food containers, plastic water bottles, and throwing left over food sound normal. But just acknowledge that waste is a significant invisible burden in the tourism industry. Both solid wastes created by tourists and the act of wasting natural resources put a strain on local communities. In many places, limited resources are often prioritized for tourists and diverted away from local people while locals need to manage the waste travelers left.
Here’re some you can do:
- Carry a reusable water bottle
- Bring zero waste and non-toxic products
- Buy food only you eat
- Shop ethically: Think twice if you need it
- Go paperless: You can switch to digital planners and map
Locally produced food
It may be surprising, but food production is a major impact on the environment and how you eat matters. Look for local food whenever possible as it can have a smaller carbon footprint than imported ingredients. However, what you eat is much more important. Try eating less of what requires a lot of resources to produce such as beef and lamb. Almost every restaurant now offers plant-based options or seafood options. There’s always something we can do.
Offset your carbon emissions
There are a few things you can do to offset your carbon emissions from your travel. For example, growing your own vegetable, composting at home, repurposing materials, collecting rubbish from ocean, etc.
The easiest way is to buy carbon offset. For example, donating to the organization who plant trees on behalf of you. Investing in a good carbon offset project will probably help to do some good somewhere. But it is hard to be sure the planted tree will permanently absorb the emissions and it won’t make the emissions from your travel go away.
While having travel restrictions and environmental challenges, find the pleasures of traveling slowly and discover what you have been missing on our own doorsteps. We still have a freedom to travel anywhere but just be aware of the environmental impact and do your best to protect it.