Reducing our carbon footprint is a key issue in preserving the environment and conserving our planet's precious resources. As travel is a major source of pollution, it is essential to rethink our ways of doing things in order to reduce the harmful effects of the tourism industry. But how can we travel while minimizing our environmental impact? Here are some tips to adopt a more conscious tourism and reduce our carbon footprint, especially when traveling abroad.
1. Opt for more ecological means of transportation
Local tourism should be prioritized to limit long trips that emit lots of greenhouse gases which are harmful to the environment. Indeed, transportation is an element that weighs heavily in the carbon balance of our trips1. So, when possible, we avoid taking the plane to get to our destination. However, if we want to travel abroad and air travel is the only option, here are some tips to reduce our impact: travel lighter, choose an economy class seat (a business class seat has a carbon footprint nearly double than an economy class seat due to occupancy on the plane), take a direct flight and select an airline based on their social and environmental responsibility policies.
The way we get around the region we are visiting also has a direct impact on our carbon footprint. Public transportation is a good option to discover a city, reduce our impact and meet new people. In fact, in addition to being more economical, it is much more ecological than renting a car2. It also allows you to discover the local transportation in the area. In addition, there are several applications that offer carpooling options: a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture!
To respect the environment, biking and walking should be considered. These active modes of transportation allow you to discover the area at your own pace, avoid urban traffic and save the environment; they surely are optimal options! For more athletic people, it is also possible to try cyclotourism or long-distance hiking.
2. Go zero waste
If you are already adopting a daily zero-waste lifestyle, continue these good practices abroad. If you're less familiar, here are some tips for limiting your waste in another country (and at home!):
- Have a reusable bag for your various purchases
- Bring a reusable water bottle (and sometimes a filter) and a coffee/tea cup
- Bring reusable containers for your leftover food
- Have an ecological toiletry kit (bar soap, toothpaste, etc.)
- Visit local markets and bulk grocery stores to limit plastic packaging
- Recycle whenever possible
3. Eat local
A great way to discover another culture is to taste the flavors of the region. To do so, choose local and seasonal products to reduce your ecological footprint and encourage the local economy. It's also an opportunity to encourage small local restaurants rather than investing in large, polluting chains. Since the agri-food industry produces a lot of greenhouse gases, try to reduce your consumption of animal products as well.
4. Favour eco-responsible activities
Biking, hiking, snorkeling, museums, cooking classes... a wide range of activities are available to you for a more ecological trip. Mass tourism is good for the local economy but brings with it its own set of negative environmental issues, so it's important to rethink our choice of activities. Many local organizations offer cultural experiences that have a positive impact on the local economy without destroying environmental resources. If you have a choice between an ATV tour or a guided hike with a local, for example, choose the second option to enjoy the tranquility of nature, meet local people and reduce your impact!
5. Encourage local artisans
Who doesn't like to bring back souvenirs from their travels to remember beautiful moments and share with friends and family? This is a must when traveling abroad, but it deserves some thought. Forget about plastic objects made from petroleum by multinationals and prioritize souvenirs made by local artists, using local materials. This will encourage the local economy and will certainly make the souvenir more valuable. There is no need to buy excessively; limit your consumption and encourage local!
It is by adopting more ecological habits that we will inspire sustainable tourism, all together! Each simple gesture makes a difference for the planet.f
This article was written by Sarah Leduc in collaboration with The Climate Reality Project. You can also read this article on the Vaolo website: https://vaolo.com/en/blog/five-tips-for-an-eco-responsible-trip/