Over 10 million Australians travel each year. Travel can expand our minds, promote intercultural understanding and provide a lifetime of memories. Unfortunately, travel can also cause damaging effects on the environment. Being an environmentally conscious traveller doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money or make a lot of difficult changes. It just means you are mindful of the environmental impact you might have when visiting a county.
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Jürgen Himmelmann CEO of The Global Work & Travel Co., are an eco-friendly company who have put together their top tips to help you minimise your environmental impact and become a conscientious traveller.
DITCH THE BUCKET-LIST MENTALITY
Do your bit to combat over-tourism by ditching the bucket-list ‘things to do before you die,’ mentality and blaze your own trail somewhere less obvious. Travel to places who are leading the way in sustainability such as Peru, Iceland, or Finland. To find a destination that’s officially certified as taking sustainability issues seriously, visit the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council).
OPT FOR ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
More environmentally friendly accommodation options are available to travellers than ever before. This types of accommodation offers renewable energy and often has an effective waste management system in place. The Global Work & Travel Co. can help you source eco-friendly certified hotels. If you stay in a regular hotel, you can help the environment by minimising your towel usage, and ask staff if they can only re-make your bed every two or three days instead of each day.
STOP USING ‘ONE-USE’ PLASTICS
Plastic waste, especially in developing countries is an enormous problem. These underdeveloped countries do not have the facilities to dispose of waste properly and safely. For countries where water is safe to drink, purchase a reusable water bottle and fill it up along your way.
There are also so many other ways you can reduce the waste you leave behind. For example, when you go shopping, take your own vegetable and shopping bags, or carry a backpack to store them in. When flying, you can help reduce one-use plastics by refusing to use the headphones and amenities on board as these are often wrapped in plastic.
CHOOSE SUNSCREEN WISELY
Yes, harmful chemicals from sunscreen can leach into our oceans and damage coral. The Great Barrier Reef especially draws millions of visitors to the area from all over the world each year. Snorkelers and scuba-divers alike can swim alongside the thousands of species that call the reef their home. However, the ecosystem is fragile and when you swim with sunscreen on, chemicals like Oxybenzone can seep into the water, where they are absorbed by coral. The best way around this? Wear biodegradable sunscreen, or wear sun-protective clothing instead.
TOTE AROUND A REUSABLE STRAW
Reusable straws are popping up everywhere as bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and others choose to eliminate them, and cities across the country begin to ban them. Pack a reusable one in your carry-on if you’re not sure about your destination’s stance on the straws.
WALK OR TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WHEN POSSIBLE
Taking public transport in a foreign country is an adventure on its own. When it comes to the environment, travelling by bus, subway or tram is a much more eco-friendly option than taking a short-haul flight or car. A positive is that you’ll save money by walking places or buying a pass. Walking also means you’ll get to see way more sites, ships, and hidden treasures you would otherwise miss while traveling in the back of a car.
While most of these suggestions are applicable to your daily lives, these are particularly helpful to make sure you leave the smallest impact when you’re travelling. Before you head on your next adventure, consider these tips.