Last year, London hit 98 degrees Fahrenheit during July, making it the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. Further from our doorstep, across the world first-ever recordings – from Washington’s Olympic National Park’s rainforest catching fire to California’s worst drought in a Millennium – took place. When it comes to the climate crisis we are all culpable. Every year, the average person in the UK produces about 12.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – a figure that keeps climbing. As our interest in travel and tourism continues to rise also and we go from one far-off country to the next, adopting a lighter carbon footprint while you explore should no longer be a second thought. Follow our simple steps to a more sustainable travelling style.
Try to avoid flying
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the aviation industry ‘accounts for 4 to 9 percent of the total climate change impact of human activity.’ It’s been estimated that one return flight from London to New York will consume approximately 2.25 tonnes of greenhouse gases. Now more than ever, seems like a great time to look into a staycation. If you must fly, try to reduce your impact by taking the train to near by countries or booking direct flights instead of multiple connections, and offset your emissions by opting for an ethical aviation company.
Pick your destination wisely
Thanks to the Internet you can find out a wealth of material about a place before you even arrive. One thing you should include is their track record. The non-profit organisation Ethical Traveler ranks destinations every year by their environmental protection standards, social welfare and human rights records. Where is at the top of their list for 2016? Monogolia, Panama, Cabo Verde and many more. This list will only continue to grow if people consciously choose to visit these countries to support sustainable tourism industries and their success will encourage other destinations to follow suit as our collective carbon footprint falls.
How green is your accommodation?
There are over 140 environmental certification schemes worldwide, all with one aim in mind: to make hospitality greener. Among them, the most respected include the Green Key eco label in Europe, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the States, and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) in the UK. They look for the hotel’s use of renewable energy, if they recycle, use everyday environmentally cleaning products and offer more earth-friendly options to guests (like not changing bed linen daily). If your hotel of choice has been given the sustainability stamp of approval, go ahead and book.
Think of everything
Keep in mind the sustainability practices you’ve implemented at home. From asking for your sheets not to be changed daily and taking short showers to keeping your air-con use to a minimum, it all adds up. If you decide to take a tour make sure your guide (always best to go local) proudly promotes ethical practices, respects nature and uses green office products. More importantly, look around you to see how energy is being produced and if the locals are suffering from a water shortage, it’ll make you think twice about using up too much.
Use local transport
While renting a car may feel like the easiest option when reaching your destination, unless it’s electric, it’s not the kindest to nature. According to the European Commission*, ‘cars are responsible for around 12 percent of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide…’ Instead cycle the city, take a train with the locals or simply walk.