Happy (almost) Earth Day lovelies! On this awesome occasion, I just wanted to do a little post about how to give back to this beautiful Earth of ours to lessen our negative impact especially while traveling. This Earth belongs to all of us and it's a group effort to keep it better than how we came into it! It's our daily responsibility to be seriously cautious of our own action. As much as it is amazing to travel and explore the world, it is not always sustainable and sometimes we contribute to really negative problems without even thinking about it fully.
"Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein." Prophet Mohammad
Before I start telling you about the ways to be sustainable, let's define the word:
Sustainability is "the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance"
In this post I will be sharing seven ways that help me travel more sustainably. In all honesty, I do not always follow all of these ways, but I do try my best to do so and to contribute positively to this planet. Additionally, sustainable travel is really good for budgets too!
#1 Travel on land
I am guilty of taking a few planes a year when travelling and the fuel of those planes is the worst thing ever and I wish I could travel more by trains and buses. To relieve my conscious, I do two things: I pay a tiny amount to offset my journey's carbon footprints even Ryanair offers this option now and take public transports when I arrive to my destination. I know sometimes public transports takes a little longer, but it has its benefits; it's better for the environment, it's much cheaper than private transportation and it also helps you get to know the destination you are travelling to differently.
“You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system.” Erol Ozan
#2 Group your destinations
If you can, plan your travels in groups. If you know that you will be in Europe in a specific time, maybe you can go to more than one destination at once. For example, on my last trip to Algarve in Portugal, I decided to prolong my trip to explore the whole area fully before returning back home instead of going to the same place more than once. I know this is a subject to flexible times, but it is worth the consideration.
#3 Live your life like plastic does not exit
Have you seen all the very sad photo from the plastic filled Indonesian beaches? Or have you seen the story abut the whale that died from eating 30 plastic bags? As you can see plastic is a gigantic problem and it makes me so mad. My life still includes plastic, but I am slowly trying to rid my life or minimise the usage of plastic. It is VERY difficult. Grocery shopping alone causes like a half bin of plastic wastage. There are a few little things to consider while travelling to use less plastic:
- Take a glass water bottle with you and refill it if the water tap is safe to drink instead of buying bottled water. You can add a slice of lemon, mint leave or cucumber pieces for the taste.
- Take your travel mug/flask with you for your tea/coffee. I only recently thought of this when I saw another traveller do it and I LOVE the idea especially if you want a tea on the go.
- Make sure to tell your waiter that you don't want a straw for your drink. It is the most useless piece of plastic and it's not even reusable. If you must, pack a straw with you to reuse.
- Pack an extra cloth bag for all your gift shopping so you don't get any plastic bags with your goodies.
- If you plan to making your own lunch sandwiches, you can buy some of the Bee Wax food wrappings, which I LOVE and actually use them to cover all my food at home too!
By the way if you do see plastic thrown on the beach or the road, try to take it to a recycling bin!
“Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah).” (Prophet Mohammad - Authenticated by Al-Albani)
Bonus: Be aware of regular wastage
Adding to waste lands is something we all should consider and as women we have one monthly wastage, which is period products. Using pads and tampons is not only semi harmful to you, but it adds to the mountain of wastage in this world. I switched to using menstrual cups and yes it was very weird when I started and it took about three periods for my body to fully get used to it and I feel like it's the best thing I have done! Plus it makes my travels easier during my period times because I don't have to pack so many products and only my cup and reusable bottle of water to wash up!
#4 Choose Eco-friendly accommodation
This is still difficult to find in some countries, but it is a great option when applicable. It takes a little bit longer to search for the right eco friendly lodge or hotel, but they do exist. Having the word eco in the title is not enough, you have to look at how they are environmentally friendly and the efforts they are making for that claim to be true. Some options can be found on booking.com but with some more vigorous search.
#5 Give back to the locals
I don't mean money or goods. I mean valuable business. Research your accommodation and your tour operators and make sure you are supporting small local businesses and local charities that work with communities. G adventures work with local businesses and organise home stays so that is a good option to start with if you had no idea where to start.
You can also purchase gifts from local artists and crafters to support their traditional craft or their artistic vision. This might be a little pricey, but it will make a difference to them and you. I was very pleased when I got a handmade brooch from Vilnius!
#6 Be aware of your food
When you are travelling to a new destination, eat the locally grown seasonal produce because that encourages the country to grow its own produce and it supports local farmers. Additionally, it is usually cheaper and fresher and has much more nutritional values to eat based on seasons.
Eat The Seasons is a good website that tells you what grows when
Another cool way is to make use of lunch offers in different countries such as the Czech Republic. Most restaurants have a lunch offer, where they cook one special and serve it for a very affordable price. It's usually a good choice to go for since it has already been cooked and it will save you some money too!
#7 Leave the animals be
Sustainability is not only about using less plastic, it is a wholesome way of living and caring for the planet. One thing some people forget is the beautiful animals we have on this Earth. I know some countries are known for some amazing animals. When I went to Sri Lanka, I really wanted to see the elephants for example, but you have to be extremely careful when it comes to seeing animals. Going to a nature reserve in the wild is your best bet. Zoos and other places where they hold animals in captivity are usually horrible for the poor animals. Even whale and dolphin watching can be dangerous for them so research a lot before you go ahead with this.
Another thing to consider when it comes to animals is buying them as trophies or being products that come from wild life. No one in this life needs an alligator bag, a fox fur scarf or ivory. If you want more infromation about wild animal products or news, the national geographic wild watch is a good source for it.
“Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.” Prophet Mohammad. Ps. "Just cause" in reference to food.
I hope you find ways useful and I hope we all can implement them. If you have any more ideas please share them in the comments below!