We can all make our next vacation greener! Here are ways to green it up whether you're on a trip or at home!
1. Bring reusable water bottles.
You may need them even in airports. For example, As of August 2019, San Francisco’s airport banned the sale of plastic bottles of water.
2. Pack lighter and do laundry on your trip.
It's not as horrible as it sounds. Some accommodations may have laundry facilities, or you can find a laundry that will wash and dry your clothes by the pound or kilo. You get your clothes cleaned and you support the local economy.
3. Bring toiletries in reusable containers.
Hotels are ditching the little bottles of toiletries to avoid waste (but, it's probably saving the hotels money, too).
4. Reuse your hotel towels.
Do you really need a fresh towel every day? Do you do it at home?
5. Stay at accommodations that promote sustainability.
And how do you find out if a resort is sustainable? Well you can look to see if a hotel, tour operator, etc., has a Global Tourism Sustainability Certification (GTSC), but that can be costly for some smaller hotels. It may be easier to communicate directly with the hotel to ask about their practices - if they landscape with native plants, conserve energy, etc., and with operators to see if they deal with local businesses or take other sustainable measures. Here’s more on the GTS Council.
6. Use reef safe sunscreen.
Sunscreen with chemicals like oxybenzone gets into the water when you swim, which in turn gets absorbed by the coral and disrupts the coral's reproduction and growth cycles, leading to bleaching. Here's my depressing post on the topic.
7. Eat local.
Shipping/trucking creates more pollution the farther it has to go.
8. Eat Seasonally.
For the same reason that you want to eat local.
9. Stop with the straws...and plastic utensils...and other
In Tahiti, I was in a (really local) restaurant and people were bringing their own take out containers!
And even if you're not traveling, you can cut back on that stuff, too. For example, Wawa and Starbucks* give discounts on beverages when you bring a reusable cup.
*Starbucks has temporarily suspended the program in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Read the story.
10. On roadtrips, put sandwiches in reusable containers instead of plastic wrap, and bring cloth napkins.
I know, these things are inconvenient, but...
11. Get rid of all of the crap in your trunk (I’m guilty of this).
12. Be more mindful of your surroundings.
We all like clean parks and places that haven't been trampled. Just sayin’...
13. Pay the carbon offset when flying.
Flying creates a lot of carbon emissions. According to a 2019 Washington Post article, "flights were responsible for 2.4% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.” That percentage is only expected to increase in the future.
In light of the this growing problem, the United Nations created the Carbon Offset Reduction and Scheme In Aviation (CORSIA). The purpose of the initiative is to help airlines offset their environmental impact by mandating that airlines buy carbon emissions reduction offsets. Check out the Washington Post article – it’s really great!
What's a carbon offset? According to a 2018 article on Wired, “Carbon offsets ... are financial contributions to projects that help reduce CO2 emissions in various industries, or encourage new sustainable energy projects in an effort to balance out the damage your flight does to the planet.”