5 EASY ways to be more eco friendly while traveling!
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Having grown up in a house with a dad who studied Environmental Science in college and is super passionate about recycling, being earth conscience has been ingrained in me from a very young age. I think this rising awareness in being eco-friendly (I’ve noticed it here in the US especially in this past year!) is GREAT, and especially when it’s coming from the younger generations who want to protect the earth they’ll be on for the next six or more decades.
So why should YOU be more eco-conscious? Well first off, whether you’re a traveler or a nature lover or just a person that lives on this planet, it’s your planet and your home. Why wouldn’t you want to protect it for yourself, your descendants, and all the creatures that live on it? Plus it’s not hard to make a few eco-friendly changes to your lifestyle, and I promise that even a little bit goes a long way!
Travelling can have an especially big environmental impact, but it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint while exploring the world, or even just your own neighborhood. Here are just a few ways to do that:
Bring a reusable water bottle
I know this is on every list ever, but I truly think this is one of the easiest things you can do, plus it’ll save you money! Drinking fountains are plentiful, especially near pedestrian heavy streets and in museums and airports. In Rome, you can even drink clean water from their public fountains. Obviously, there are places where it isn’t safe to drink tap water, so make sure you research before you go. Even if it is not, many hotels or resorts will have filtered water available on site for guests where you can fill up your water bottle before leaving for a day of adventuring!
Take overland transport rather than flying
I know it can be hard to pass up on that £10 Ryanair flight from London to Edinburgh, but flying creates a much bigger carbon footprint than taking a train or a bus. For shorter journeys, consider taking a bus or train. This is a great way to see the passing scenery, can cost the same or less than flying, and often take about the same amount of time once you factor in check-in and deplaning times.
Walk or bike around a city
Once you’re in a city, consider walking or renting a bike rather than taking the metro or public bus system. I know many cities offer free or cheap bike rentals – you often just have to create an account online or through their app, and in some places, the rental is free as long as you return your bike and get a new one within a certain time span. Walking is always free, and I know I love getting lost exploring a city on foot. It’s a great way to find those hidden side streets and sites you would miss on the metro.
Bring reusable straws and silverware
These take up little to no room in a purse or backpack, and then you have them available when you need silverware for your picnic under the Eiffel Tower, instead of having to grab plastic disposables. Just be aware that metal forks on airplanes can violate TSA guidelines – I was fine with my metal cutlery set for several plane trips within the US but got my metal fork confiscated at the airport in Fiji. I would recommend at least a bamboo fork for this reason or putting your metal silverware set in your checked bag. I just got into reusable straws this summer, and I love them! I have one each in my car, purse, and backpack so I always have one handy. If you don’t carry these, you can also get a collapsible straw that clips onto your keyring!
Say no to that plastic bag!
I’ve found this to be very easy in Europe, where many grocery stores charge around the equivalent of 10¢ for a plastic bag. If you’re only getting a few items, try to fit them in your purse or backpack, or better yet, bring a collapsible reusable bag from home. If you absolutely need a plastic bag from the store, repurpose it after unpacking your groceries. They’re very versatile and can be reused multiple times before being recycled. Now that you have that bag, bring it back to the store for your next shopping trip, use it for your dirty laundry, or to wrap up wet swimsuits or shoes! I often buy one of the cheaper reusable shopping totes on trips, then continue to use it at home as a fun, useful souvenir. I still use the Tesco bag from my study abroad for my weekly grocery shop at home!
Of course, there are many other ways to be more eco-conscious, both at home and while traveling, but these are five easy ways that popped into mind! In the future, I would love to expand on the topic more, as it’s something I’m definitely passionate about! Even if it’s simple as reusing a plastic bag, just remember that every bit counts.
What are your favorite ways to be a bit more eco-friendly? Let me know in the comments!