Donâ€™t lose your good habits on vacation!
Photo credit: JoshuaDavisPhotography.COM
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 â€œeco-friendly travellerâ€ may be a bit of an oxymoron. Still, when on vacation or on business abroad, the search for greener alternatives is not totally hopeless.Â
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 barâ€™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.
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 travellersâ€™ sickness and digestive upsets, and grapefruit seed extract to purify drinking and bathing water.
While Youâ€™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, theyâ€™re better for you). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
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 ruleâ€”take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.
Save Electricity, Water, and Gas:
Just like at home, donâ€™t leave lights, TVs or electric appliances on. Donâ€™t leave the water running or take long showers. If youâ€™re staying in a full-service hotel, refrain from requesting laundry or cleaning services unless absolutely necessary. Or, if youâ€™re doing some sightseeing, take the bus or walk instead of renting a car. Youâ€™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 donâ€™t have the same recycling facilities that weâ€™re used to. Soâ€”take it home! Empty packages arenâ€™t heavy, so bringing them home to be recycled isnâ€™t too hard.
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 youâ€™re buying souvenirs for yourself or for others, ensure that theyâ€™re environmentally responsible choices. For example, make sure theyâ€™re actually made in the location you travel to, but donâ€™t damage the local ecosystem (no crocodile skin wallets!). As always, donâ€™t buy anything you donâ€™t need or wonâ€™t want in a few years.
Good luck and bon voyage!