Traveling and getting in contact with new cultures and places is one of the most amazing things in life, but it also comes with responsibilities. Tourism can many times be damaging to local communities, increasing pollution, natural habitat loss, and uncareful urban sprawls. Being a sustainable traveler means you will do all you can to make the impacts of your adventure as minimal as possible to the world, always looking to preserve the environment you are exploring. To celebrate Earth’s Day we prepared a list of 6 actions you can start taking today to make your trips around the world more eco-consciously:
1. Understand how your actions can affect the places you visit
Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN Environment Program as the type of tourism that takes into account all the future and immediate impacts it can cause on the economy, environment, or social aspects of your host community. It embraces all parts of a touristic experience, starting with the type of transport you will use during your travel, the accommodation you will choose, how you behave when in contact with the natural environment of that area, and so on.
The travel industry has a huge role to play toward a more sustainable future, so it’s very important that all sides do their part to create a more eco-friendly tourism. Keep in mind that your actions today will impact the world immediately and in the future. When we talk about a sustainable traveler, we are talking about someone who tries to minimize the negative impacts tourism can cause in big or small communities around the world. As little as it seems, any action, when taken by more and more informed people, can make a big change for future generations.
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Single-use plastic is one of the big contributors to environmental pollution of the oceans and increasingly floods around the world, it takes hundreds of years to completely decompose and will keep being a problem for much longer than you can imagine. Many countries have started to take action regarding the use of plastic, but things like water bottles and disposable cups are still highly used on a daily basis by locals and tourists. Do your part by avoiding single-use plastic when it’s possible, bring a reusable bottle so you can refill water wherever you are, or start using a thermal mug for your coffee - besides being eco-friendly it will also keep your drink hot for longer. When shopping for souvenirs or groceries, bring a tote bag with you so no plastic bags will be needed, and try to always look out for businesses that are investing in recyclable alternatives for their products and avoiding the unnecessary use of plastic.
3. Embrace the “Leave No Trace” mindset
The idea behind the Leave no Trace organization is to create Outdoor Ethics Education Programmes and promote a more eco-friendly attitude toward the planet and its natural resources. They follow seven main principles that can be followed by anyone willing to make their part in living a more sustainable lifestyle:
- Always plan ahead of your trips and prepare;
- Respect Farm animals, Wildlife, and their habitats;
- Use durable sources when camping and traveling;
- Leave any natural things you find where they belong, don’t take anything with you
- Dispose of any waste appropriately in a correct place;
- Be considerate of others visiting the place with you, and after you;
- Avoid using fire and always minimize its effects when in use;
To learn more about the organizations and the programs that they offer, as well as voluntary jobs to clean public spaces in many cities around the world, you can check the “Leave no Trace” website.
4. Choose accommodations that are taking actions to minimize their carbon footprint
A sustainable traveler will look out for accommodations that take actions towards Sustainable Tourism and that are open about how they are working to minimize their impacts on the planet and promote a more eco-conscious attitude for their business. Simple actions such as avoiding the use of plastic, trying to minimize as much as possible the use of paper with some creative solutions, recycling their waste appropriately, and having a selective collection station can be good reasons to choose a place to stay during your next trip.
As a hospitality company, Canbe is fully conscious of our responsibility to help for a greener future and is working hard to educate guests and staff on a more sustainable mindset. Following our “Go Green, Go Further” program we have started important changes since 2020, looking to minimize our carbon footprint on the planet. There is still a long way to go, but in the last year, we managed to save 55 thousand sheets of paper after starting to use a digital signature instead of asking guests to sign on printed paper. This is just one example of how small attitudes can make big changes. You can learn more about what we have been doing to be a more sustainable business on our “sustainability” page.
5. Use efficient modes of transportation whenever you can
Another way to make your part in helping the planet while traveling is by prioritizing the use of carbon-free transports whenever you can. When going short distances, try to cycle or walk instead of getting a car or a bus; if really needed, use public transport rather than private ones; if you are thinking about renting a car during your trip, give preference to the electric/hybrid models.
In Ireland, you can find electric charges around the whole country, which makes it easier to invest in renting an electric car while you are here. Plan ahead and make sure to be close to the charging stations when you start to run low on battery, you can find the ones near you with a quick search on Google Maps. When staying in Dublin, try to explore the city by cycling through it, you can use the Dublin Bike system to rent a bike for a few hours paying just as much as you would for a bus, plus there are cycling paths on all the main streets.
6. Support local communities/shops
Tourism generates a source of income for many families around the world, so it’s important that you as a tourist keep supporting local businesses from the places you are visiting. Prioritize spending your money during trips to support the place’s cultural heritage, whether by buying from local artists or giving preference to restaurants that serve traditional dishes with locally-sourced ingredients.
Happy Earth Day! Let’s all be more sustainable travelers :)