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Be An Eco-Friendly Traveller

Don’t lose your good habits on vacation!

How can you be an eco-friendly traveller? Well, considering the immense amount of carbon emissions generated by air travel (hundreds of pounds of fuel per passenger), the term “eco-friendly traveller†may be a bit of an oxymoron. Still, when on vacation or on business abroad, the search for greener alternatives is not totally hopeless. 

Before You Leave

Packaging, Packaging, Packaging:

Unfortunately, all those cute, miniature-sized toothpastes, shampoos and conditioners create much more waste than regular or refill-sized packages. Instead, opt for products with less packaging, or bottles and boxes that can be re-used.

The Soap Works (http://puresoapworks.com/index.htm) has been making biodegradable, natural bar soaps with absolutely no packaging for 25 years. Their Shampoo & Conditioner bar is perfect for hair washing while travelling, the Carbolic bar repels mosquitoes and other pests, and the Tea Tree bar’s antiseptic properties make it perfect to clean minor cuts and scrapes.

Wysi Wipes (http://www.canawipe.com/home.html) are a great green alternative to pre-moistened cloths, for washing dishes while camping, removing make-up, or cleaning up spills. Rather than using one-time-use facial cleansing wipes that remain in a landfill forever, Wysi Wipes can be washed, re-used, and are eventually biodegradable. They start as tiny tablets that take up no room in a suitcase, but expand many times their original size after adding water.

Natural Remedies:

Products without synthetic ingredients, preservatives, artificial colours and harsh chemicals and pesticides are easier on the environment, and safer for everyone.

Swimming and snorkelling while wearing sunscreens with harsh chemicals are not only dangerous to you, but can harm the fish, coral, and natural environment around you. Sunscreens should be PABA and paraben free. Badger (http://www.badgerbalm.com/default.aspx) or Soleo (http://www.soleousa.com/) are some of the cleanest brands you can find.

Essential oils can be used as natural bug repellents. Citronella, lavender and tea tree are at the top of the list. If you get bitten, tea tree oil works well to soothe the itch. They can also be purchased in ready-made spray forms at your local health food store.

Other natural remedies include: ginger for nausea and motion sickness, probiotics to prevent travellers’ sickness and digestive upsets, and grapefruit seed extract to purify drinking and bathing water.

While You’re There


Everything possible on vacation should be re-used. Pack some cloth bags in your suitcase for shopping and bring your trusty reusable water bottles along as well. Tip: double walled stainless steel canteens keep water cold hours longer in tropical heat than single walled stainless steel, aluminum or plastic (plus, they’re better for you).           

Respect the Local Ecosystem:

Choose hotels, tours and day trips that use environmentally friendly practices. Eat local whenever possible (this is usually much more fun than eating local at home). When in nature, remember the golden rule—take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.

Save Electricity, Water, and Gas:

Just like at home, don’t leave lights, TVs or electric appliances on. Don’t leave the water running or take long showers. If you’re staying in a full-service hotel, refrain from requesting laundry or cleaning services unless absolutely necessary. Or, if you’re doing some sightseeing, take the bus or walk instead of renting a car. You’ll experience more of the culture that way in the process.

On Your Way Home


Believe it or not, a lot of resorts and vacation destinations don’t have the same recycling facilities that we’re used to. So—take it home! Empty packages aren’t heavy, so bringing them home to be recycled isn’t too hard.

Souvenir Shopping:

Although the most environmentally-friendly option is to avoid buying any souvenirs, most people like taking a little something back to remember their trip. If you’re buying souvenirs for yourself or for others, ensure that they’re environmentally responsible choices. For example, make sure they’re actually made in the location you travel to, but don’t damage the local ecosystem (no crocodile skin wallets!). As always, don’t buy anything you don’t need or won’t want in a few years.

Good luck and bon voyage!

User Feedback

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Good Article. I would add to this list that you should consider carefully the accomodation that you use. You can find environmentally friendly hotels using the Green Hotel Association, for example, and it can make a significant difference to the overall footprint of your trip. Doing this will also exert pressure on all hotels/apartments to become more green conscious and force them to change their ways.


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Most people tend to lower their guard and dump good practices they would perform at home when they are on holiday. But the places and environments we visit also need to be protected and so being eco-friendly while traveling is important. One of the things you can be conscious about when on holiday is your consumption of water. Places like Southern California in the US are facing a water shortage and we must conserve water especially in the shower. If you want to be an eco friendly traveler and also conserve water at home please visit http://tr.im/vRHm

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How about this, instead of taking a plane, you take a greyhound bus.. That would give off less pollutants. I think if you are trying to be green, taking a plane anywhere contradicts all of the little things you may do.

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This is absolutely true: the article itself says that "eco-friendly air travel" is a bit of an oxymoron. Nevertheles, flights are inevitable for many people, and there's no reason why even they shouldn't reduce their polluting in little ways. It's not an all-or-nothing deal.

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Respecting the local ecosystem is a really important point. Whilst I was on an adventure trip with the Aussie tour company, Intrepid, in India, they asked to avoid using plastic bags in shops. They even gave us a cotton carrier. The disposal of carrier bags is a problem in India.

They had also tried to reduce the number of plastic drinking bottles by setting up water purifiers at different locations, but this, unfortunately, had proved impracticable.

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To become a responsible traveler takes a lot of courage. "...When in nature, remember the golden rule—take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints..." This should strictly be followed all the time.

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To become a responsible traveler takes a lot of courage. "...When in nature, remember the golden rule—take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints..." This should strictly be followed all the time.

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