5 Practical Ideas To Help Lessen The Environmental Impact Of Traveling

July 25, 2018

Here are some practical ideas to help us lessen the environmental impact of travel and tourism.

Environmental sustainability in light of the worldwide travel boom is a concept that has enjoyed much attention for quite a time now. It entails the huge responsibility of balancing travel as a lifestyle vis-a-vis environmental sustainability so that the generations to come may still enjoy the beauty of the natural wonders around the world.

How to lessen the environmental impact of traveling
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5 Practical Ideas To Help Lessen The Environmental Impact Of Traveling

    Travel and its impact on the environment 


    How do we really balance travel and its impact on the environment? With the surge in travelers, the first to suffer is the natural surroundings. 

    The huge influx of people would inevitably result in an increase in human waste; from the travelers themselves to the businesses operating within tourist destinations that go all-out in ensuring the utmost comfort of guests. Striving to keep a balance between traveling and environmental sustainability is a challenge that may seem simple but is actually complicated.

    For example, a hotel is an environmental disruption no matter how eco-friendly it claims its operations to be. The fact that it is in existence is already a burden to the environment from the very moment of its construction because it produces many kinds of waste and expends energy.

    Sustainable tourism


    The tourism sector is an important industry that contributes hugely to national coffers. Tourism brings livelihood to host communities. 

    In fact, the World Tourism Organization states that sustainable tourism takes into account not only the environmental impact of tourism but the social and economic aspects as well. 

    Personally, I would provide the biggest weight to environmental impact because if the environment suffers, both social and economic components of tourism will naturally be affected negatively.

    In the Philippines, it is utterly depressing to see beaches, mountains, and riversides littered with plastic. When we went to Boracay late last year, I was able to fish out plastic potato chip wrappers, shampoo sachets, and discarded nylon ropes from the beach. 

    I wish discipline could be taught but, alas, that is not the case. I just hope that responsible tourism will soon become a buzzword among many Filipinos and travelers, in general.

    Some say that the most environmentally sound solution would be not to travel at all. But as we all know, that is impossible. The best solution would be to adopt a travel lifestyle that is geared towards environmental sustainability.

    It does not have to be a complicated routine; as with all other endeavors, it’s OK if you start small. In fact, that’s the best way to do it. As you go along the way, you can learn, adjust, and start adapting other best practices related to environmental sustainability.

    Some suggestions on how to travel responsibly


    Responsible traveling is not at all that hard, especially with many shops offering environment-friendly products. If you are thinking of shifting to an environmentally-aware lifestyle, here are five ways to start you off your journey in responsible traveling:

    1. Bring reusable bottles or water container when you travel


    You do not need any special product to be able to do this. There are countless water bottle brands available in the market today. Some are made of durable plastic but if you would like to decrease your plastic usage, you may opt for a metal or glass container. 

    If you want to keep your drinks hot or cold for an extended period of time, then a thermally insulated water bottle is the best solution for you. By doing this, you could reduce your consumption of bottled water and, consequently, also lessen your expenses.

    2. Use canvass bags for keeping your used clothes


    There was a time when buying plastic bags (either garbage bags or used grocery bags) was part of our pre-travel checklist so that we would have something to put our used clothes in. 

    However, we found that it was more practical, not to mention more environmentally-sound, to bring canvass bags that we can re-use. As an option, you can also bring your old paper bags.

    3. Switch to eco-friendly sunscreen or use rash guard instead


    This is something that I have just discovered recently. I never realized that the sunscreens that we used to slather liberally on our skin to protect ourselves from sunburn contained chemicals that were harmful to corals. 

    Specifically, avoid sunscreen brands that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, among other harmful chemicals that are detrimental to the marine ecosystem.

    4. Invest in reusable cups and straws


    This is something that I have just discovered lately; collapsible spill-proof silicone cups and metal straws. 

    These are made of durable and biodegradable materials, which means that they will decompose in the soil. You would be surprised that the cups pictured above, for example, are made of wheat straws, which means that they are food-grade. Nonetheless, they are extremely sturdy and wouldn't break easily.

    5. Make eco-friendly toothbrush a part of your travel kit


    Oral health practitioners recommend replacing toothbrushes every three months so imagine the sheer amount of plastic waste this would generate. 

    It’s a good thing that there are eco-friendly toothbrushes that are now available in the market. These environmentally-friendly mouth cleaners are commonly made of wood or bamboo. 

    Although the bristles may not be 100% biodegradable, some manufacturers are trying to source alternative materials to make these toothbrushes completely biodegradable. Still, it’s a big step towards reducing plastic waste.

    Epilogue


    There was a time in my life when, if asked about my advocacy, I would readily say that it was environmental preservation but over the course of years, I became less conscious of it. 

    However, traveling has given me a renewed appreciation for the environment. In the end, let us keep in mind that travel does not have to be detrimental, both to our surroundings and our fellow people.

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you book or purchase anything through one of those links, we may earn a small commission but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are ours and we only promote products that we use.
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    11 comments

    1. I think there has been a recent trend of more sustainable products and items in the market. Although it's a bit more expensive, it's much more sustainable and environment-friendly!

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    2. These are all great suggestions! We've been trying to be conscious of our carbon footprint for years now, and it's always been hard to do that when traveling.

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    3. It would be really wonderful if people all over the world were more aware of how their actions effect our world.

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    4. We are doing most of these things. I love that we can practice sustainability even when we travel.

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    5. These are great points for being eco-friendly while traveling! I try to be as sustainable as possible and I will have to add some of these.

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    6. Travel does open your eyes to the importance of a healthy environment. And taking these steps, even if they seem small, can have a positive impact.

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    7. These tips are great. I am doing a few already but a few are new to me!

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    8. Great tips! I try to do a lot of these and I think every little bit helps!

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    9. These are not difficult to do. Bringing reusable cups, cloth bags, and choosing a good sunscreen is something we all should do when going on a vacation.

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    10. What. a great list of ideas! I absolutely love the eco friendly toothbrush. Keeping these in mind for later!

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    11. Reusable cups and straws are the way to go now! The olden days of using disposables is hurting us so much and the environment itself, has had enough!

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