25 Aug Is eco-friendly travel a myth?
Predictions suggest that by 2050, a massive 40% of the world’s carbon emissions will be generated thanks to tourism.
Now that’s a stat that will make even the biggest sun lover do a double-take. Most of us know by now that flying and the travel industry aren’t exactly great for the planet. But with lockdown restrictions lifting and Brits able to head off abroad once more, it’s got us thinking:
Is sustainable travel possible? Or do those two terms just contradict each other?
Truth is, there’s often a huge crossover between being an eco-warrior and wanting to see different countries, cultures and all of the natural beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. After all, those with a sustainable lifestyle love the earth enough to make serious changes to the way that they live, so inevitably want to enjoy it to its fullest. But is it possible to explore the world, without damaging it in some way?
The travel industry: It gets worse and worse
Not so long ago, a holiday for many Brits meant jumping in the car and going to some beautiful location here in the UK for a week. And holidays abroad were often few and far between.
However, with flights being cheaper and more accessible than ever, the way that we enjoy holidays is changing. Trips overseas have been steadily increasing year on year, with UK residents taking 1 million more holidays in 2019 than 2018! Even more shockingly, between 2012 and 2017, trips abroad skyrocketed by 29%. Clearly we’re a nation that loves escaping our drizzly weather...
Whilst it’s great that more people are able to explore the world, the rise in flights obviously also means that our carbon footprints are growing. After all, a plane produces a bit over 53 pounds of the stuff per mile. That’s a lot of CO2 when you think about how many planes you see zipping across the sky every day.
Too often, holidays also mean jumping in taxis instead of on unfamiliar public transport links, long trips to airports, cranking up the aircon and getting the most out of the mini toiletries in hotel rooms, the packaging of which inevitably ends up in landfill. It really is an absolute minefield when it comes to trying to be sustainable!
Green travel tips – how to travel more sustainably
There are definitely things that we can do to be more sustainable when it comes to travelling though. Here are just a few of the ways to cut down your carbon footprint and waste when planning a holiday:
- Ditch flying
You knew that this one was coming! Where possible, opt for trains, cars, boats or any other type of public transport that isn’t a plane. This will drastically lower the carbon emissions that you contribute and make your holiday far greener.
Take a trip to Paris from London, as just one example. By plane, this would produce 244kg of CO2. On the Eurostar, it would produce just 22kg of CO2. That’s a 91% decrease!.
2. Travel Less
Simply cut your holidays down or enjoy the hundreds of beautiful locations within your own country! Create a UK bucket list and start exploring all the amazing attractions the country has to offer. A great trip doesn’t have to mean one that takes you overseas.
3. Embrace public transport
Try your best to learn about the public transport options in the location you’re travelling to before you get there. That way you can feel confident jumping on board the bus, train or metro and are less likely to use unsustainable alternatives like taxis and Ubers.
4. Don't let your eco habits slip
Whether it’s taking a bottle with you, always carrying a reusable travel mug or using solid shampoo bars, don’t let your eco-lifestyle slip, just because you’re in a new place! Whilst the change in scenery may get you out of routine, you can still embrace your sustainable switches whilst abroad.
Could travel be the key to a more sustainable world?
All of the above tips are great when it comes to reducing your negative impact on the planet whilst travelling. But they certainly won’t make all of your trips impact-free. Your journey will still produce CO2 (unless you decide to cycle to the Bahamas!), you may forget your reusable bottle thanks to jet lag and some things will be completely out of your control in a country you don’t know.
No, travel can’t be 100% sustainable. And that’s okay.
We believe that it’s our responsibility to try our best to preserve the earth, but we don’t think that we have to commit to never going abroad in order to do this. In fact, we think that travel itself plays an important role in the environmental movement.
If you see the natural beauty that the world has to offer, are you not more likely to want to look after it?
Equally, if you’re sat on a stunning beach and see plastic bottles washing up on the shore, are you not more likely to want to make a change?
Truth is, travel can make our desire to save the planet stronger. And when you view it this way, holidays almost become a tool within the sustainability movement, to encourage everyone to look after the world that they love exploring.
Whilst travel cannot possibly be 100% sustainable, not much can! Simply existing in the modern world makes being eco-friendly a challenge. However, we think that experiencing the earth is important for the human experience and even more so for those doing their bit to save the planet. As with all things then, it’s important to lower our impacts as much as possible, whilst still enjoying the world around us.
Guest blog written by the wonderful Bethany Austin from Terra.