World Environment Day takes place annually on the 5th of June, led by the United Nations Environment Programme. It has taken place every year since 1974 and has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet. It is regarded as a global platform for inspiring positive change, with over 150 countries participating, including governments, businesses, civil society, schools, celebrities, cities, and communities, all coming together to raise awareness and celebrate environmental action. You can find out more here.
At the heart of World Environment Day is inspiring people to make positive changes to live more sustainably. Being environmentally conscious on our travels is a great way to play our part to help protect the planet. We have put together our top tips for simple changes you can make for more sustainable travel.
Tip One: Enjoy Local Food & Drink
Eating local and organic isn’t just on-trend, it has a positive social and environmental impact. When you go on holiday you can keep this up by choosing restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients and try to avoid imported food or drinks – enjoy the local wine and seasonal fruit for example. If you want to go one step further, avoid places with buffets as often these end up with lots of food waste which is bad for the planet, and try to make sure any fish you eat is line-caught or sustainably farmed.
Tip Two: Pack Light
Taking lighter luggage on holiday is not only friendlier on your wallet – no hefty baggage charges, it also helps the planet. Every extra kilo of weight that is taken on a plane requires a balance of fuel for take-off, which is constantly increasing as planes require a faster speed to ascend in hotter temperatures, and global temperatures are on the rise. Where possible try to stick to a carry-on case and plan carefully with what you pack and think about how many new things you buy. A huge amount is spent every year on new holiday clothes that are only worn once before being discarded, to reduce this you can buy pre-loved or simply just try to buy less for holidays and reuse items from previous years instead.
Tip Three: Reduce Waste
An easy way to help protect the planet when you go on holiday is to limit the number of ‘travel-sized’ items with refillable containers that you buy. Why not save the ones from previous trips and refill them, or if you don’t have those repurpose things like old contact-lens cases or other small containers and fill them from your bigger bottles to take on your trip. Try to take a reusable bag away with you so you can avoid using plastic carrier bags – this can also double up as a beach bag! And remember to pack a refillable water bottle and coffee cup, easy ways to reduce the number of plastic bottles and cups you need to use whilst away.
Tip Four: Think About Your Transport Options
There's been lots in the media lately on celebrities trying to reduce their international travel to cut their carbon impact, and increasingly people are choosing to go flight-free or minimising their aero footprint when they go on holiday. It’s not only better for the environment, but it’s also a brilliant way to slow down and take in the scenery and experiences that we might otherwise miss. Why not leave the car hire and opt for a bike instead, or island-hop in a wind-powered sailboat instead of a cruise ship. There are specialist tour operators who promote land-based domestic travel wherever possible — whether it’s by electric car, bike, or even kayak, and there are increasing numbers of European destinations that are now accessible by rail. To check how much cutting back on flights can help the planet, log on to ecopassenger.org to see how much you save on emissions.
Tip Five: Think About Water Use
While it is a nice treat to have fresh sheets and towels in a hotel every day, it's not a necessity, and forgoing it can significantly reduce the hotel's water and energy consumption, particularly important in countries with low rainfall. You can advise the reception desk not to replace your towels and linen each day without having to worry about the daily maid service.
Tip Six: Look for Accreditations
Finally, if you want to ensure that the company you travel with behaves responsibly check for proof. The ‘B Corp’ certification is an easy way to do this and means that the business is publicly and legally liable to uphold the highest social and environmental values, in every facet of their company; you can see how they score in the B Corporation directory. For eco-hotels, its certifications including EarthCheck, The Long Run, Breeam (Building Research Establishment Assessment Method), and Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) help to separate those making bold claims from those hotels really doing good.