responsible travellersustainable travel

Seven simple sustainable travel tips to be a responsible traveller

As a traveller , I am always trying to look inward and see how I can practise sustainable travel. My personal desires and selfish needs to explore new destinations has often come in way of polluting the environment with my presence. I am so focussed on travelling that I rarely pause to wonder how much of my carbon footprint is scattered around the world. And that is when I slowly started making little changes to the way I travel. I confess that I am no eco warrior and I have a long way to go, but I often try to see how  I can be a little bit more of a responsible traveller. In the last few years, I have made these seven simple changes and I would like to share these sustainable travel tips with you.

Carry your own Litter

When I was in Tokyo, my guide collected small pieces of paper and other garbage material and put them in a little pouch in her bag. I asked her why she was collecting the same and she mentioned that she would thrown them in her bin at home. The streets of Tokyo did not have bins as they were banned recently fearing security issues but that made the citizens only more responsible They carried their thrash home as a part of sustainable travel practise. I slowly started practising the same . When I am on the roads in interior India or in a train journey or camping in the hills or wandering around forests, I avoid littering the place. It is my way of respecting the sanctity of a destination and be a responsible traveller.  Whatever the trash maybe – a chocolate wrapper or a piece of paper, they are all tucked away in paper bags and stored in my backpack to be thrown in trash later. Of late I am even trying to cut down buying junk food on the road so that I can avoid littering.

Say no to plastic

We hear this so often and yet I do not understand why it is such a difficult task. I must confess that I used to carry a few plastic bags with me. I used to recycle them and I let them be. But before I knew it, they were everywhere. I made a conscious decision and replaced them with cloth and paper bags, especially when I travel. I try to religiously follow the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and I ensure that there is no additional plastic at home or while  I travel.

Plastic is a non-biodegradable material, something that does not decompose naturally. So, it means it exists forever. Anything made of plastic, whether a bottle or a bag, ends up polluting the land as well as the sea. If figures are to be considered,  8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the sea alone. I do not know how and when plastic became an integral part of our lives, but it is time we slowly let it go.  This is one of the cardinal rules of sustainable travel and if we can slowly eliminate as much as plastic from our lives, we would be doing ourselves a great favour.

Pic Courtesy – riekephotos, shuterstock

Sip it !

A major way of becoming an eco-friendly traveler is to ‘Sip the liquid and don’t Suck it’. Yes, it means you say a big ‘No to Straws’. Do away from using plastic straws when consuming your beverages. Avoid buying the packaged drinks that come with these straws and if you are served these in a train, then bring them home. The neighbourhood tender coconut vendor has a huge collection of straws and I cringe when I see these used straws spread all over the ground below the coconuts. This is one of the simplest sustainable travel tips that you can practise and can train even your kids to avoid the straws or carry your own, if you have no choice.

Carry your own water bottle

I must confess that I have been guilty of buying packaged water, especially when am on a road trip in interior India and I often leave the bottles in the car or in the hotel. And I pledged to myself that this habit has to go. So I carry my own reusable water bottle with me or in case I forget, I reuse the same water bottle with me all the time. Almost every hotel or restaurant are fitted with good water purifiers and they provide you with  filter water and you can refill them when required.  If you have a good refillable bottle, you can make use of the best water purifiers to get safe and healthy drinking water even while you’re on the go. As a responsible traveller, this is one of the biggest services that you can give to your environment.

Pic Courtesy – Lester Balajadia, shutterstock

Conserve Water And Save Energy

Water and Energy are two most important factors for human survival. And as the population is increasing, these vital necessities are getting violated. Thus, even while enjoying are trips, we should make all possible efforts to save the environment.Energy is required to produce fresh water and electricity. Some easy steps such as reduce your shower time, turn off the lights when you leave and also unplug any electronics that you’re not using. To conserve water it is important that you do things to protect the local water sources. Do not dispose any harmful chemicals and dangerous waste materials like paint, oil, ammonia on the ground because it will seep into the groundwater.

Consider your Luggage

Though usually, when we travel we do make sure that we carry less, but more often than not unintentionally, we dump too much into our bags. Reducing the luggage, both in dimension as well as weight, is one of the important sustainable travel tips to be a responsible traveller. The less the luggage, the less the consumption of fuel will be. This regards any means of transport you use such as bus, car, airplane and more.

 Go Local

This is one of my personal favourites and my smallest contribution as a responsible traveller. I try to always buy local produce, local souvenirs, work with local guides and tour operators and help them sustain. I like to bring home local arts and crafts, fabrics and small artefacts created and carved by the artisans. As a traveller, it is my way of ensuring that I support communities that produce local and eco friendly goods as well. There is no greater fulfilment than going local and meeting these people and listening to their stories and supporting their endeavours.

These are some of my small but significant sustainable travel tips to be a responsible traveller. It is all about doing my part to protect the climate, environment and thus making sure the earth is happy! We are all responsible for the carbon footprint we leave wherever we go.

 

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