Go green: 15 simple tips for eco-friendly travel May 26, 2015 06:55

As we gear up for vacations over the upcoming long weekend (and many there are this year), do pause to consider if you can make your travel plans a little kinder on the Earth. Global travel isn’t easy on the environment but there are things we can do to reduce the size of our eco-footprint without cancelling our plans. 

Here are 15 simple tips from us to help make your trip that bit greener –

Before you go

1.  Consider flying economy instead of first-class.

The smaller your airplane seat, the more bang for fuel’s buck, the smaller your carbon footprint.

2.  Be picky about your hotel and tour providers.

Check that your hotel and tour providers share your environmental ethics.  Where you can, look for companies that hire locals, have a long-term affiliation with the community, take the effort to reduce their energy consumption or conserve the natural environment.

3.  Pack light.

Less weight = less fuel = less environment impact.  Works for planes, trains, buses, cars, you, everything.  So just do it.  Life’s just easier when you travel light.

4.  Eschew those travel size containers.

You know those travel size toiletries they sell at the pharmacies and supermarkets to make life easier for you?  Well, they don’t really make life easier for Earth.  All those resources gone into making tiny tubes, jars and bottles that last you a handful of days but live forever (well, almost) thereafter in a useless state.

Try instead:   If this is not your only holiday ever, consider buying a set of refillable bottles that you can reuse again and again every trip.  Bonus: You can now bring along your favorite brands wherever you go, even if they don’t sell travel-sizes!

5.  Choose eco-disposables for the baby.

We get it, cloth diapering can be hard to keep up when you're away from home.  But instead of discarding your environmental values along with the diaper, consider buying eco-friendly disposable diapers that leave a far smaller eco-footprint than traditional disposables!

What makes a disposable diaper green(-er)?  Look out for diapers that are free of chlorine, latex, artificial dyes or perfumes (chemicals that can harm the environment and your child) and made from sustainable resources.

(For more on this, see here.)

6.  Have a reusable water bottle handy.

Your eco-friendly habits don’t have to stay at home!  Use your bottle on the plane to save on the multiple disposable (small) cups they serve you – just be careful not to store water in it until you finish all the necessary airport clearances.  At your destination, have your bottle ready for the tap (if safe in the country) or water coolers.

Even if you end up having to buy water, you can get a full gallon-size to fill your reusable bottle with – that’s still less plastic waste than many smaller disposable bottles!

If you haven’t already got a reusable water bottle, we have great suggestions for you right here.    

7.  Bring along a reusable shopping bag.

Not only does that keep you from accumulating extra packaging waste along the way (you know you’ll dump it by the end of the trip to save on luggage weight), it frees up your hands for more shopping!  It also tends to make for a easy beach bag – I love multitaskers.

8.  Suspend newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip.

Saves the trees, and it’s safer anyway – a pile of uncollected newspapers tells unsavoury characters that your house has been left unwatched and is ready for invasion.

9.  Unplug non-essential electronic appliances at home.

Appliances like the TV, sound systems or the oven continue to suck electricity even when turned off – so just unplug them altogether.  You don’t need to run two “homes” on your bill.

While you’re there

10.  Go green.

Literally.  Try public transport, cycling or walking where possible.  Helps with the additional calories consumed – and in some cities, the traffic – too.

If you have to drive, there’s always a way to drive greener – get the smallest vehicle you need, avoid idling, keep your tires properly inflated and try to stick to the speed limit!

11. Take only maps and brochures you need. And share if you’re in a group.

And when you’re done, recycle them – or better still, save them for your next trip!

12.  You don’t need to return to a brightly-lit and perfectly-cooled room.

I know some hotel guests like to insert a business card into the keycard slot just to keep the electricity going when out and about.  Is that really necessary?  Just because you’re not actually paying for it, doesn’t mean the Earth isn’t!

13.  Support the hotel’s green efforts!

Oh, don’t be a skeptic.  Sure, washing sheets and towels less regularly saves hotels money – but what’s wrong with doing the environment good doing you good too?  Reuse towels and sheets if you can!  And watch your own water usage – it’s a scarce resource in some countries (including Singapore, really).

14.  Leave those stones untouched.

And the seashells.  These seemingly-useless inanimate objects do play a part in preserving their environments.  For example, shells provide homes and hiding places for marine organisms, contribute to the global carbon balance and help prevent beach erosion.  So leave them in their natural homes.  If you have to take anything, make it a photograph instead.

15.  Leave those unopened toiletries at the hotel.

So it can be used by the next guest.  Less usage = less wastage.

There you go - not that much to add to your to-do list, but what a difference it can make. 

Now, if you are also looking to green up your household routine while on the ground, check out our tried-and-tested natural cleaning DIY recipes here!