Words by Sierra Smith
The travel industry is notorious for being one of the most polluting. Almost one-tenth of the world’s carbon emissions are generated from the travel industry. Which means, ironically, when you’re going out to see the world you can actually be doing it some damage. Reducing your carbon footprint while traveling isn’t just about packing light and bringing a metal straw. It’s all about how you get there, and where you’re staying.
1. Book an Eco-Friendly Hotel
Lengthy hotel stays can have big environmental impacts. The amount of energy hotels use while heating and supplying electricity to their rooms 24 hours a day is substantial. The good news is, more and more hotel chains are introducing eco-friendly initiatives like eliminating single-use plastic bottles and straws, installing low-flow fixtures in their bathrooms, and supplying charging stations for electric vehicles. Make sure to keep these features in mind when booking. If you’re having trouble finding an eco-friendly hotel, you can book a regular one using a service like B’n’T, which plants a tree every time you make a reservation!
2. Turn the Lights Off
Whether your chosen hotel is up to date on its sustainability practices, there are things that you can do during your stay to help out. Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you can suddenly use all the power and water you want. Don’t leave your lights on when you’re not in the room, and keep devices like phone chargers, Bluetooth speakers, and laptops unplugged while they’re not being used.
3. Keep the Cleaning Crew OutOne of the biggest things you can do to promote sustainability in a hotel is to utilize your “Do Not Disturb” sign. It’s estimated that an average hotel will use between 100-200 gallons of water, per room, per day. Just imagine the amount of water you can save by choosing to reuse your towels and linens, instead of letting the cleaning crew wash and replace them each day.
4. Sail on Sustainable Ships
Hotels aren’t the only industry working to become more sustainable. Even big-time luxury cruise lines like Virgin Voyages are using new technologies that turn environmental expenses like heat and wastewater into reusable, clean energy. This is a welcome innovation by Virgin in an industry that has, in the past, been reported to generate over 1 million gallons of wastewater in a week. Cruise ships designed to offset their ecological impact by turning waste into energy is an idea that is sorely needed at a time when our oceans are more polluted than ever.
5. Find Forward-Thinking Flights
Air travel is usually the worst offender, emitting an incredible amount of CO2 directly into the atmosphere. Aviation accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and with the popularity of air travel increasing from year to year, this will only continue to worsen. However, there are certain air travel companies making strides to reduce their effect on the environment by participating in carbon-offsetting programs, investing in biofuels, and introducing recycling programs.
The travel industry certainly has a lot to answer for, but it is good to see some brands working towards a more eco-friendly future. Next time you’re planning a trip, do some research before you book and help reduce your environmental impact.