5 Easy Ideas for being Green & Travelling Clean
We live in an age where words like “eco-friendly”, “going green” and “offsetting carbon emissions” are often paraded about on the back of selling something instead of the greater good of the environment. While we agree with the sentiment, we’re an even greater believer that the decision to travel green should be engrained in the mindset of the traveller… And that’s going to take a little more than “paying X to offset your carbon emissions” next time you book flights online.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be travelling. In fact, most ecologists agree that travelling helps raise crucial awareness and appreciation of the earth. So instead of giving you a bunch of difficult to action, costly and incalculable lessons in eco-friendly travel, we’ve singled out five things you can start doing straight away on your own. We truly believe this goes a whole lot further than adding a number to the cost of your airline tickets next time your travel.
1. Regular water ain’t gonna kill ya
If you can do just one thing for the environment when you travel our advice is don’t buy bottled water. There are multiple benefits in doing so – you won’t be wasting precious resources (tap/drinking fountain water is just fine) and you won’t be adding even more plastic to the ecosystem (studies indicate that it can take up to 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose).
Opt for reusable bottles like the Bobble water bottle (uses a carbon filter built into the cap), stainless steel Hydro Flasks and Camelbak bottles. They’re widely available and have fast become a hip fashion accessory for environmentally, health conscious globetrotters and desk jockeys the world over. While the initial cash output is higher than what you’d pay for standard still water; all of them provide a handy, lasting water storage solution as well as a pleasant drinking experience when you travel.
2. Become a Public Transport Queen
While you might not be used to relying on public transport at home we encourage you to explore the train, bus and taxi networks of your next destination. And when you’re not riding shotgun with the locals then think with your feet and walk as much as you can. After all… hiring a car is just way too expensive these days.
3. Recharge and harness the power of the sun
If you’re spending a good deal of time away from a mains power supply then rechargeable batteries might be a better option for you if you’re looking to improve your eco-friendly street cred and save some money while you’re at it. In the long run they’re cheaper and more conservational than their disposable counterparts. Be on the lookout for Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries. They have a better life and performance than Nicads and don't contain as many toxic heavy metals.
And if you’re really serious about reducing your carbon footprint then invest in a solar cell charger to recharge your batteries next time you hit the road. A solar cell provides clean, efficient and near limitless power for your tech toys. Modern devices are small, lightweight and compact and take about 6 hours to charge your batteries give or take and depending on the amount of direct sunlight it’s exposed to.
4. Buy Local
Here in South Africa we have the Proudly South African campaign that encourages citizens to buy locally manufactured products for the good of the economy. Why not do the same when you travel? Often the most unique souvenirs you find abroad are those made by the natives. You’ll be helping the economy in your destination while lessening the environmental impact of buying mass-produced, imported goods.
Besides, there’s nothing worse than buying a wood carving from Zanzibar only to discover the “Made in China” engraving on the bottom.
5. Shift your mindset
On a final note, this whole concept of going green and being environmentally friendly is going to take a radical mind shift from everyone if it’s going to make an impact… and not only when it comes to travel. If ideas like the ones mentioned above are really going to make a difference then you’re going to have to incorporate a similar way of thinking into every aspect of your daily life.