Earth Day has inspired people around the globe to go green. The organization's leaders think that small eco-friendly decisions can add up to a massive difference to the planet and estimate they've prompted more than 2.5 billion green acts since their inception.
With leaders in the travel industry taking major steps to lower their carbon footprint, there's never been a much better time for you to get involved. But how to begin, particularly when you're watching your pennies? Be assured, being a budget traveler doesn't need to cost the earth and being eco-friendly doesn't need to empty your wallet. Here are seven easy ideas to make a real difference on your next holiday.
1. Where to get your water
There continue to be lots of places where it's unsafe to drink plain tap water, but constantly buying plastic bottles in the shop is a big no-no. Investing in a water filtration is a fantastic way to continually have water that is clean to hand and you can re-use it on any future adventures. Water purification tablets are also a budget-friendly option or you could research some local solutions. In Southeast Asia for example you can use an application to find water refill stations in more than ten countries.
2. Eat and drink locally
Step away from Starbucks and McDonald's and look for the very best in local produce. Jonathan Engels from Green Global Travel recommends seeking out traditional dishes which have a tendency to use local ingredients. "The beauty of ethical eating while we're traveling", he says, "is it encourages us to try what's around the menu instead of eating stuff imported to recreate the same unhealthy food we try to avoid at home." Street food is always a cheap method to experience the best an area has to offer and if you go searching for vegetarian, even better. During the night, choose local craft brews or wines.
3. Airplane tips for saving carbon and money
Believe it or not, it is possible to make flights a little greener. Did you know flying top class can be more than five times as heavy on carbon per person based on a 2013 study by the World Bank?
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So squish into economy and feel a bit more virtuous. You can also help by taking direct flights and packing as light as possible to cut down around the weight from the airplane, thus saving fuel – and baggage charges. Deciding on the best airport may also make an impact. The Center for Responsible Travel recommends Seattle-Tacoma, Baltimore-Washington and Bay area International as green airports which are doing their bit.
4. Slow down your travels
The 'travel' a part of holidays is how even the most eco-conscious travelers can fall down. Where possible, choose the train instead of a flight. Inside a comprehensive analysis, the Union of Concerned Scientists said "those seeking a carbon bargain should seriously consider rail and motorcoach travel," with rail especially suitable for long distances. When you need to get a flight for any trip, try to stay for longer; you'll save money on those pesky airline taxes and expenses and keep your weekend trips for staycations.
5. Do not disturb
One of the simplest ways travelers might help environmental surroundings is as simple as hanging up a 'Don't Disturb sign on their door, according to Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Travel Media. "You're saving the electricity required to vacuum, the water required to wash linens and clean bathrooms, not to mention the tough chemicals utilized in the cleaning process," i was told that. "On top of that, some hotel chains will reward you for selecting not to have your living space cleaned."
6. Interact ethically with animals
Sadly, there are many unethical animal attractions and otherwise well-meaning tourists could be charmed through the prospect of the amazing image. World Animal Protection even made a Wildlife Selfie Code to help travelers make the right choices. "Only take photos a high level safe distance from a pet, they can move freely, and they're in their natural home" they advise. Always seek information before booking on any animal-related tour or attraction; simply because it's 'sanctuary' in the name does not mean they're animal-friendly.
7. Ask for eco-friendly options
Continuing the popularity for more sustainable, eco-friendly travel is really in your hands. The planet Travel and Tourism Council says "providing tour operators and destinations with feedback may be the number one way travelers can request the modification they wish to see." They recommend leaving positive reviews when something is done right or contacting places via social networking beforehand to look at their eco-credentials. "If a travel provider is not providing you with sustainable options," they say, "demand to know why."