How to be an eco-traveller
// Eco-conscious tips for traveling //
Whether it’s near or far, Kiwis love to travel and get out an explore world. When you’re at home it’s relatively easy, but when you travel and your routine gets thrown out the window, it can be harder to practice eco-friendly habits.
So here are 15 tips we’ve picked up along the way to help you be an eco-friendlier traveler.
1) Take a reusable water bottle. Aluminum or BPA-free plastic bottles are great. In some places where the tap water isn’t safe to drink you can buy big bottles of water and decant it into your reusable one. A 1.5l bottle of water replaces up to 6 smaller bottles.
2) Eat in and choose places with real plates, cutlery and glasses. Eating local produce is a great way to cut food miles. And if you have leftovers, ask the restaurant what they do with them (for example some places may feed local dogs with leftover meat) or you can take them with you – chances are there will be a local organisation who can use them or a hungry person on the street who will be more than happy to take them off your hands.
3) Refuse straws. If you are going somewhere where they don’t speak English, there are some great translation apps available, so download one before you go and practice the statement. Or load it onto your phone (take a photo) and show it to your server when you order. If you really love straws, then take your own reusable ones with you (just don’t leave them behind).
4) Pick up rubbish. It may only be one piece. It may feel like you are totally wasting your time in the face of all the litter around you, but that is one less piece that will end up in the waterways. And who knows who you might inspire with your actions.
5) Take a reusable shopping bag. These are usually light-weight and easy to roll up and tuck somewhere handy. You can use them not just for groceries, but for any shopping you do.
6) If you’re a coffee drinker, take a reusable coffee mug. If you are going somewhere where the coffee isn’t that great you can always take your own coffee plunger (stainless steel is great) and if necessary, take your own ground coffee too.
7) BYO shampoo, conditioner and soap - shampoo and conditioner bars are perfect because they won't leak! Hotel toiletries are handy if you have forgotten yours, but they are also very wasteful. If you do use them take any leftover leftover soap, shampoo, or toothpaste with you. These are great to have in your toilet bag for your next trip, and it saves unused portions being thrown away. You can also reuse the bottles.
8) Travel like a local. In many cities and countries public transport is a great, cheap and efficient way to get around. Even better, it helps cut down on emissions from cars and private transport. Even better, if you can walk between places it’s a great way to get some exercise, cut your carbon emissions and see more of where you are staying.
9) Turn off the lights and air conditioning when you leave the room. Don’t get fresh towels until you need them – you don’t wash your towels every day at home, so why do it when you travel? Hanging your towels up after use is a sign that you would like to use them again.
10) Get your room serviced every few days or once for your visit. This cuts down on both the cleaning products and chemicals used in your room, as well as electricity used for washing and vacuuming. To do this just hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel room door.
11) Ladies, a menstrual cup is a great option to use over disposable sanitary items. Hot water and soap are all you need to keep it safe, but if you are stuck somewhere without running water or the water is a bit dodgy you can use bottled water to rinse it). Or you can make a vinegar / water solution to take with you and spray it or rinse it with that.
12) Support businesses and accommodation who hire locals and use local produce and products.
13) Return maps, brochures, and other tourist info once you’re finished with them so that someone else can use them.
14) If you are snorkeling or swimming near coral reef areas ensure your sunscreen isn’t going to harm these areas. Many sunscreens are causing coral to bleach and die.
15) And of course, before you head off make sure you unplug or switch off everything at home that doesn’t need to be on (such as TVs, alarm clocks, phone chargers, microwave, etc.). Even if you’re not using something, just having it plugged in seeps energy from the grid, so unplugging doesn’t just help save electricity, it also helps save you money on your power bills.
Remember, whatever actions you do take help, add up to make a big difference.