The effects of travel on the environment
The effects of global warming are undeniable - the polar ice sheets are melting, sea levels are rising, and there are obvious increases in average temperatures across the world. Scientists warn that if temperatures continue to rise, there will be devastating, irreversible environmental consequences. It’s therefore time we all take responsibility for our planet and join the battle against climate change. The world cannot get on track towards a sustainable future without changes by individuals, and lifestyle changes make a big difference.
Some greenhouse emissions are unavoidable when travelling, but there are a number of things you can do to reduce environmental harm. Our guest blogger, Ella Hendrix, provided some tips on how you can become a more energy efficient traveller:
Remember that green travel starts before you leave the house
Before you head off on your next adventure, make sure that you unplug all appliances from the wall, turn all lights off, and lower the temperature on your thermostat. This will ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible and not wasting energy while you’re away.
Choose your mode of transport wisely
As well as doing some research to try and fly on airplanes that are more energy efficient, you could travel to the airport via train. At Southampton airport, the train station is located right outside, so it’s 99 steps from train to plane.
It’s now possible to calculate the carbon footprint of your flight using apps such as MyClimate, which also offer advice on how to travel greener.
When travelling, it may not always be possible to find recycling facilities but you should always ask your hotel about their recycling programme, and recycle as much as possible. The energy experts at EPC For You explain how “recycling is an important way to reduce your carbon footprint as it ensures that less energy is used in the production, transportation, and disposal of products - this means less greenhouse gas emissions.”
Reduce water wastage
You don’t wash your towels every day at home, so why do it when you travel? Many hotels now offer linen reuse programmes; hanging up your towels after each use, is a universal sign that you’d like to use them again. Reusing your towels and only requesting a change of bedsheets a couple of times a week, saves significant water, and is a simple way to help the environment.
Eat local food
Eat locally sourced food and avoid anything that’s been imported. This is a great way to experience a new culture, reduce the carbon footprint of food transportation, and support the local economy.
Choose environmentally friendly accommodation
There are increasing options for environmentally friendly accommodation that have been certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. You can now opt for accommodation that uses renewable energy, has been built with renewable materials, and has effective waste management systems.
Reduce plastic usage
Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the sea. This disrupts ecosystems and harms marine animals. Ocean Crusaders explain how “100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are just the ones found.”
Plastic bottles account for a large amount of the overall plastic that ends up in our oceans. When travelling, bring a reusable water bottle that you can fill up, instead of buying plastic water bottles. Many airports now offer free drinking water - this saves you money and helps the environment! You should also carry a reusable bag to avoid having to use plastic bags, when buying souvenirs or shopping. This will help you produce less waste and therefore reduces your environmental impact.
Southampton Airport works closely with its business partners to reduce the use of plastic, for example by replacing plastic straws to paper, using recyclable cups at their Costa and wooden cutlery for takeaway at The Olive Tree restaurant. They also have a water fountain located airside, so travelers can fill up their bottles instead of buying new ones.
It is extremely important, especially given the current environmental decline, to be conscious of your own habits when travelling. While some greenhouse emissions are unavoidable, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of emissions you contribute. Try some of the tips mentioned above while you’re out on your next adventure, and do your bit to help the environment.