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7 Sustainable Travel Tips for Eco-Conscious Travelers

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Climate change and its impact on our environment are the most pressing issues of our time. We know, based on recent in-depth reports, that if we don’t take drastic, global action now, adapting to these environmental impacts, later on, will be far more difficult.

As individuals, how can we participate in this so-called drastic, global action? We all made small steps to contribute to the larger problem. It’s time we take small steps to contribute to the solution.

Tips for Making Sustainable Travel Your Top Priorities this Year

1. Travel With a Refillable Water Bottle

Traveling with a refillable water bottle is a simple way to minimize waste. There are a variety of reasons to give up plastic bottles, using a reusable water bottle is: cheaper than continually buying water bottles,  BPA free (a plastic that is linked to cancer and hormone problems), and most importantly, dramatically helps alleviate the billions of pounds of trash that end up in our oceans.

Klean Kanteen is a family-owned company that offers stainless steel, BPA free, reusable water bottles. They are durable for all kinds of adventuring and have a cap that can be easily attached to backpacks or luggage.

If you’re in an area where filtering water is essential, consider the LifeStraw water bottles. They offer a straw-filter that allows you to drink from rivers, streams, or waterfalls.

2. Avoid Plastic Straws

Sometimes the environmental issues we face today can feel too large for our comprehension. It’s comparable to a 10,000 piece puzzle without a single indication of where to start. But, there are things we can do on an individual level, small changes can lead to grand impacts.

It’s estimated that we use over 500 million straws every day in America. Most of these straws end up polluting our oceans and killing marine life. You can find out more about plastic pollutions by visiting www.strawlessocean.org.

In the meantime, buy an eco-friendly straw for your next iced coffee. I just ordered mine from FinalStraw, a collapsible straw with a “Suck-ulent Green” case.

3. Invest in Eco-Friendly Travel Accessories

Eco-friendly travel accessories also help lessen the impact on our environment. Eco-friendly travel is not always convenient or easy. It helps to prepare for trips before they start, so you have more control over the types of products you’re packing.

Some of my favorite products to stock up on are the Reusable Makeup Remover Pads from Our Earth Beauty and reusable shopping bags.

4. Travel by Train

Whenever possible, take the train! Rail transport is the most environmentally friendly way to travel, as the greenhouse effect of gas emissions per kilometer is 80% less than cars.

Europe has a wonderful public transportation system, and you can find routes for traveling between countries on websites like GoEuro. Train travel often offers stunning vistas of the places you’re visiting, giving you a much more wholesome perspective on the region you’re traveling through.

Eco-Travel by train
View from the train up Mt. Rigi, Switzerland

5. Choose your Destination Wisely

Where you decide to travel effects the kind of environmental footprint you make. Switzerland is a good example. It is a destination without a landfill, and they have somehow managed to use their trash to improve the environment.

Switzerland is also known for being a top recycler and having the cleanest water in the world. When I lived there, I noticed recycling stations situated on the sidewalks every few blocks, easily accessible to all the residential buildings. And remember what I said about traveling by train? Switzerland’s public transportation infrastructure is intricate, efficient, and (almost) always on time.

6. Support Local Economies

As travelers, we can support the local businesses by choosing to eat in a locally-owned restaurant, buying souvenirs made locally by locals, and participating in tours and activities that are owned and managed by the locals themselves.

Do your research to find tour companies that have local roots, or restaurants that are family-owned. In high-tourist areas, like Machu Picchu in Peru, it can be hard to tell the difference between what is local and what is mass-produced. In some cases, you may not be able to know for sure. But, keeping this kind of thing top of mind will make a difference.

sustainable travel tips eco-friendly travel
A local village outside of Cusco, Peru where residents taught us how they clean, dye, and maintain alpaca hair, turning it into yarn.

7. Pick Up Trash

One of the simplest ways to travel with our environment in mind is to pick up trash along the way. I’ve been on countless hikes where I see energy bar wrappers stuck between rocks and plastic water bottles crunched and discarded.

For a long time, it wasn’t something I noticed or paid attention to. My immediate reaction was not: pick this up and pack it out. Challenge yourself to notice, and challenge yourself to make a difference. On your next adventure, pick up trash along the way and put it where it belongs.

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