Unless you’re using human power alone, there is some degree of environmental harm with any form of travel. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or car, you will leave a dirty carbon footprint. We love travelling using human power alone, whether it’s by foot or by bike. But you can’t escape the fact that travelling to the other side of the world usually involves powered travel.
According to the World Bank, the carbon footprint for a single passenger flying between New York to San Francisco is almost 0.9-metric-tonnes. To put that in perspective, there are approximately 20,000 planes currently in use around the world, serving three billion passengers per year. And by 2040, that number could more than double to 50,000 planes in our skies.
You may think, then, that driving would be a better alternative to flying. But the longer the distance, the more efficient flying becomes, especially if you drive an older car or a diesel. Driving long distances on your own can be even worse for the environment than flying.
And it’s not just the physical act of travel that impacts the environment. An increase in visitors to a country or a region can negatively impact the economy and ecology of that place. For example, increased footfall to National Parks impacts the vegetation, the air quality, the water table and the habitats of wildlife in the area.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t travel. Travel is essential for adventure and discovery. But by making a few very simple considerations you can make travelling much more sustainable. Most of the below tips are incredibly simple and obvious, but if everyone started applying these simple practices to their travel, the environment would be under much less stress.
It might not always be possible to travel fast and light. Packing for a round the world trip can be tough, however, you should only pack what you need. Additional weight increases the carbon emissions of the plane or car. You can get some more great tips for eco-friendly packing on the Explore website.
When packing for your travels, think about packing sustainably produced clothing and using sustainably manufactured luggage, such as the Smith Rolltop from Millican.
See Millican’s latest short film, Nyfiken here
Share the journey
Travelling via public transport is one of the best ways to cut your carbon footprint whilst travelling. By sharing the ride you’ll not only reduce the carbon emissions from private travel, you’ll also experience the real side of a country which will enrich your experience.
Where possible, book direct flights. Take off and landing use the most fuel, so by only taking off once and landing once, you can half your carbon footprint for a single journey.
Say no to plastic
We’ve spoken before about how plastics are filling up our landfill sites and polluting our oceans, but we can’t stress it enough. Avoid using plastic bags by carrying a canvas tote with you when shopping, and fill a flask up with water to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles being used. You could even take a thermal flask to the local coffee shop and invest in a Lifestraw bottle so you can fill up from any water source in the wild without fear of getting ill.
Eat and drink locally
By supporting local vendors on your travels, you’ll not only support the country’s economy but also look after the environment. For example, shipping western food and drink to Asia costs a lot and creates a lot of carbon emissions.
If you’re planning to go hiking on your travels, stick to marked paths where possible to avoid damaging the habitats of wildlife. It goes without saying, but take any litter home with you and pick up any litter you do see out in the wilderness.
Don’t exploit wildlife
Many Asian countries still exploit animals for financial gain. For example, elephant rides in Thailand and Sri Lanka, are common. These beautiful creatures are being held captive and tortured on a daily basis so that ignorant tourists can get a photograph. Do not support animal cruelty and research any wildlife tour you plan to go on.
There are many other simple changes you can implement to reduce your carbon footprint. But with these few tips in mind, you can become a more responsible traveller and leave our beautiful planet to be enjoyed by others.