Have you ever wondered what sort of impact traveling has on the world’s environment, and thus, the beings which inhabit it? While traveling can do wonders for our minds and enrich our lives, it can also have a negative impact on our big, beautiful earth. That’s why I’ve put together a big ole’ list of 20 ecotourism and eco-friendly travel tips, so you can be a more green traveler…
Psst. This post on eco-friendly travel tips contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.
When you’re on a plane, you might not really think about what the jet fuel is doing to the atmosphere (me included!). Or when you’re in the hotel bar and order a drink, you may not give a second thought to where the straw in your glass is going once it’s empty.
All day, everyday, people are traveling and enjoying life.
Whether it be traveling to a new continent for a new adventure or traveling to a nearby city for a business meeting. While going to new places and experiencing new things can open our minds and expand our horizons, it can also have a negative impact on our beautiful earth.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is eco-friendly travel, otherwise known as “green” travel?
- 2 20 EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE ECOTOURISM & BE A MORE GREEN TRAVELER
- 2.1 Say “no” to straws.
- 2.2 Take a walk.
- 2.3 Slow travel is the way to go.
- 2.4 Think before you slather.
- 2.5 Car share.
- 2.6 Minimize your food consumption.
- 2.7 Say no to plastic water bottles.
- 2.8 Support the real local economy.
- 2.9 Never — ever — buy wildlife products.
- 2.10 Support organizations that encourage sustainability.
- 2.11 Throw out those plastic toothbrushes.
- 2.12 Avoid the plane and take the train.
- 2.13 Donate to local charities.
- 2.14 Pass on the hotel room maid service.
- 2.15 Book non-stop flights rather than indirect ones.
- 2.16 Recycle everywhere and anywhere you go.
- 2.17 Research future accommodations sustainability efforts.
- 2.18 Don’t stray from the trail.
- 2.19 Never feed wildlife.
- 2.20 Do not ride or in any way exploit wildlife.
What is eco-friendly travel, otherwise known as “green” travel?
Green travel is a sort of broad term with two different sections, but according to the this definition…
“[green travel] refers first and foremost to responsible travel practices that pay attention to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. It can also refer to eco-tourism, which involves responsible travel specifically to natural areas” (Greatist.com, 2013).
Ultimately, green travel could be labeled as “moral” travel, as it focuses on ensuring that all travel is undertaken in an environmentally responsible manner.
In other words, leaving as little of an impact on the places you visit and protecting the environment — both at home and abroad.
20 EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE ECOTOURISM & BE A MORE GREEN TRAVELER
Say “no” to straws.
If you’re wanting to not contribute to our global plastic problem and reduce your plastic consumption, saying “no” to straws is one of the easiest ways to do it! Straws are a big no-no if you want to be the ultimate green traveler, as they are super disposable and fill up the landfills like crazy.
So, at your next get together or when you’re at the bar ordering a drink, say no to the straw and sip instead.
Take a walk.
If you’re exploring a new city or just exploring your backyard, instead of driving your car or taking a bus, why not walk? You’ll not only save on unnecessary pollution, it’s also good exercise! And you’ll likely notice more — like a new boutique or a hidden statue! — than if you were cruising by in a car or on a bus.
Slow travel is the way to go.
This goes along with taking into account the pollution which is unavoidable with most means of transportation. If you have the available time, why not consider traveling more slower than usual?
It allows you to save on costs, minimize the amount of pollution from transportation (like flights, buses, cars, etc.), and you’ll get to see more than if you were traveling at the speed of light!
Additionally, if the opportunity is there, take trains over planes. You’ll significantly reduce your CO2 footprint and it’ll most likely be a more memorable journey compared to flying in a plane, as you’ll actually be able to see the surrounding landscape.
Think before you slather.
Before you slather on your sunscreen, have you thought about what’s in it? Sunscreens with toxic chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate are extremely harmful to the ocean.
Consider swapping it out for a non-toxic, natural sunscreen, usually made out of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. You’ll not only protect your skin, but reduce your impact on the oceans inhabitants and plants. Read more about the impacts of harmful sunscreen here.
I recommend this reef-safe sunscreen to all my readers!
I think we can all agree that less cars on the road equals less pollution. That’s why a great way to be an ec0-friendly traveler is to reap the benefits of car-sharing!
Minimize your food consumption.
This includes passing on the elaborate breakfasts just to have a more “Instagram-worthy” photo.
I see this all the time on Instagram and it grinds my gears. Social media “influencers” and “Instagram-famous” people ordering up a huge amount of food for breakfast/lunch/dinner just to take a picture. They’re surrounded by vast amounts of colorful plates and pretty food — though, realistically, one or even two people can’t scarf down what’s in front of them.
Can you imagine how much food is wasted only to get a pretty photo? It’s not sustainable or eco-friendly travel in any way. Think of all that food going to people who will actually eat it!
Say no to plastic water bottles.
I think we can all agree that plastic water bottles are — amongst other things — destroying this planet. Did you know that 1,500 water bottles are consumed every second? Holy smokes! Y’all, we need to do something about this. I need you right now to make a pledge to say no to every water bottle you see.
Instead, get this reusable water bottle or, if you’re somewhere where you are unable to drink the tap water, check out this water bottle with a filter. You’ll be glad to know you’re lessening your plastic impact on the earth!
To read more on plastic-free travel, check out this post on 8 plastic-reducing tips and this post on how to implement #PlasticFreeJuly every month!
Support the real local economy.
Wherever you’re traveling, make a point to support the local community, also known as the local economy.
Instead of purchasing you’re souvenirs at a typical souvenir shop, buy them from a small, local shop in a not-so-known neighborhood. You’ll be supporting a local family, as well as putting your money into the local economy.
Never — ever — buy wildlife products.
Everyday, we’re faced with choices regarding the purchases we may make — what you might not know is that those purchases could have a harmful impact on wildlife.
While in the Caribbean you see shelves full of coral decorations and tortoise shell accessories. Or in antique shop, you find a unique Ivory tusk intricately designed. Or in Australia, you find a surf shop filled with shark teeth necklaces.
The fact is, we all need to refrain from purchasing these sorts of products. This demand continues to feed wildlife crime and destroys populations of elephants, marine turtles, rhinos, and tigers, amongst other species. Be a good little traveler from here on out and forego any wildlife products!
In fact, this is something an “animal lover” would never do! You can read more about that on my big fat list of unethical animal encounters to avoid.
Support organizations that encourage sustainability.
Whenever you’re deciding on a tour group, organization, etc., pick one that encourages sustainability. For example, a company which supports the local community by investing in the area, contributing to preservation, hiring local staff, and sources local supplies.
A company which goes out of their way to reduce their negative environmental impact by creating conservation measures, practices RRR (reduce, reuse, recycle), plants trees to offset impact, offers incentives to staff to carpool, etc.
There’s so many ways a company can promote sustainability! So definitely choose one which is doing at least one (or all!) of these things. Here’s a list of companies which promote sustainable tourism.
Throw out those plastic toothbrushes.
Haven’t you heard? Considering 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the U.S., which is enough to stretch around the world 4 times, and most plastic toothbrushes are made out of polypropylene and nylon, which is non-renewable fossil fuels, the time for plastic toothbrushes is out!
Do what you can for the world and make the switch to a bamboo toothbrush. It’s such an easy swap, you won’t even notice a difference! Here’s the bamboo toothbrush I personally use.
Avoid the plane and take the train.
We all know planes release a good amount of pollution, right? Well, one way to cut down on your particular impact by plane pollution is to opt for taking the train instead! Trains use remarkably less fuel and have a significantly smaller impact on the environment compared to planes.
In fact, according to this source, you’ll cut carbon dioxide (CO2) by half if you take the train over a plane. Awesome, right? Not only will you be adopting a more eco-friendly travel transportation, you’ll also likely get better views, more space, and less hassle!
Want to know where I find my train tickets at the best price? The Trainline.com — always! You can read more about my favorite travel resources and recommendations here.
Donate to local charities.
Remember how eco-travel and green travel is all about environment, social, and economical responsibility?By donating to local charities, you’re supporting the social and economical parts of that!
You’ll not only be giving back to the community, but supporting local families, making sure they have what they need, and supporting local preservation acts.
Pass on the hotel room maid service.
By passing on hotel room maid service, you’ll not only save them some time but you’ll also save water, resources, and energy.
So, when you’re at your next destination, do the world a favor and stick that “do not disturb” sign on your door to pass on the maid service! Or, if you’re at one the popular chain hotels, you’ll find they have you hang up the towels to pass on towel washing.
Book non-stop flights rather than indirect ones.
If you don’t have the option of taking an alternative mode of transportation, like a bus or train, opt for taking a non-stop flight to reduce your environmental impact. Indirect flights are not only more of a hassle (because who enjoys layovers, right?), they put out more chemicals and fuel pollution than non-stop flights.
It’s completely understandable if you are on a budget and can’t afford non-stop flights, but if you do have the means, booking non-stop flights is a great way to practice green travel!
Don’t forget — a sustainable traveler would never go on a cruise! Here’s why.
Recycle everywhere and anywhere you go.
Recycling isn’t just for families or individuals who live in a set location; whether you’re traveling across the United States or backpacking around Europe, you have the opportunity to recycle everywhere you go!
So, the next time you buy a pack of canned beer or sip on a water bottle, do the earth a favor and recycle the materials once you’re finished.
Research future accommodations sustainability efforts.
When booking your next trip, consider booking an accommodation which focuses on sustainability efforts. For example, they use bamboo straws instead of plastic straws, they compost leftover produce, recycle all disposable materials, reduce their water consumption, and more.
Don’t stray from the trail.
When hiking around a national park or natural reservation, take care in staying on the designated trail. The trails are there for a reason, as some plant species are extremely delicate and won’t grow when trampled on by people.
For example, Bluebonnets first grow underneath the ground and take a good long while to have the strength to sprout. If people continue stepping on the ground their trying to sprout in, they can’t grow — and that’s no fun!
Never feed wildlife.
I know, I know — we all love when animals come up to us and we feel like we’re out of a Disney movie making friends. But that just isn’t meant to happen in the real world. Animals are meant to stay in the wild and when humans start giving them food, the animals become more accustomed to being fed by humans — which is bad, bad, bad.
Why is it bad, you might ask? Because when animals start to rely on humans for food, they forget how to forge for themselves. They could easily die due to not being able to actually feed themselves.
Additionally, humans are ultimately the most dangerous things towards all animals.
For example, in Yosemite National Park, park rangers tell you to throw rocks and yell at bears to scare them away because if a bear becomes to friendly towards humans, it usually ends up being shot and killed, as it’s a danger towards park guests.
So, case in point, never — ever — feed the wildlife. Just keep your distance and admire from afar!
Do not ride or in any way exploit wildlife.
Similar to not feeding or approaching wildlife, you should never exploit it either. This means no swimming with dolphins in pools, riding elephants in Asia, going to zoos, taking pictures with drugged tigers in Thailand, own any exotic pets, and more.
Animals are meant to live separate lives away from humans, so don’t exploit them in any way. Here’s a peek into the commercial exploitation of animals.
And if you really want to go far in not exploiting wildlife, the best way would be to go vegan! Many vegans do everything in their power to not harm animals — this means buying cruelty-free products, abstaining from any foods containing animal, and not buying any animal products, like fur.
As mentioned earlier, I have a big massive list of unethical animal encounters to avoid if you’re an “animal lover.” You can check out that post here.
There are my 20 best ways to practice ecotourism and be a more green traveler! I love focusing my efforts of sustainable travel, responsible tourism, and doing what I can for this big, beautiful earth, while traveling and at home. So… let me ask you…
What changes are you going to make to take the right steps towards eco-friendly travel?
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