As I travel the world, I get to see all kinds of bad behavior. Most of the time it’s loud tourists disturbing the peace of others that really used to grind my gears (my daily meditation practice helped a lot!) Something else that really lights a fire under my rump is all of the plain wasteful and unsustainable practices I witness. Unfortunately, many hotels simply don’t have the systems in place to be eco-friendly, such as using plastic bottles, come on people! Luckily, my whole life is built around minimalism and having a small footprint (my feet aren’t small.) I try to make the most out of having the least. It gets me all excited! Read more about minimalism and a lot more life changing information to better yourself in my book How to Live Abroad and Thrive with Passive Income.
Most of these should be common sense, but sometimes common sense isn’t so common so read up!
We only get this one planet, so let’s take care of it!
1. Damn planes!
Unfortunately planes are one of the worst carbon dioxide emitters out there. Apparently, flying for long distances is still better than driving, as planes require less fuel once they’re cruising. However, for shorter distances it’s better to drive. The point is to avoid flying when possible, and to take alternate modes of transport such as trains when you can.
BONUS: When you plan your extensive travels, make sure you do it in a way that you get the most efficient travel route as possible. Instead of bouncing all over the place and taking unneeded flights, try to combine everything into one shot to get the most bang for your buck and not be wasteful.
2. Single-use items = the devil
When you’re on the go, it’s quite hard to avoid using single-use items, unless you are a smarty pants and you’ve prepared in advance! The fact that you’re reading this shows that you care, so go ahead and prepare multiple-use items such as a wooden toothbrush, reusable cloth bag, metal straw, metal fork, travel mug, and a handkerchief. If you’re forced to use a single-use item, try to use it as many times as possible before ultimately recycling it.
3. Walk you sad sack!
Don’t be lazy! Once you’re in a city or place where things are relatively nearby, get a little exercise and walk. It’s way better for your physical and mental health, and you will get to experience more of your destination. Of course, you’ll also save some extra ching ching!
4. Plastic kills
Sadly, nearly everything we consume these days is in some sort of plastic packaging. To top it off, news is coming out that a lot of what we thought was being recycled, wasn’t. Therefore, it’s best to avoid plastic as much as possible from the start. This is where that reusable cloth bag will come in handy, keep it with you at all times. Another horrible one is bottled water at hotels. If the the tap water is safe to drink, drink up!
5. Stop printing
Printing boarding passes is one thing but no need if you can use an electronic ticket on your phone. Time and time again I see people that have a huge folder of printed documents for their trip because they printed their entire itineraries, boarding passes, hotel confirmations, etc. Not only is this wasting ink and paper it’s also wasting electricity. Skip the printing when possible!
6. Embrace minimalism
Minimalism is basically de-cluttering your life in a way that removes stress, making life easier to manage. Once you’ve embraced minimalism, you won’t have the urge to constantly consume new products. This will greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Before buying new, try and fix what you already have, or buy something secondhand. If it’s something you only need for a short time, consider borrowing it from a friend. Embracing minimalism is great for your mental health and if you’d like to read more about it and all of it’s benefits, read my book here.
7. Waste less water
Instead of taking long wasteful showers, shorten them up. Also, only turn on the water to half-strength to greatly reduce your water usage. Flush the toilet less (if it’s not super unpleasant) and turn off the sink in between your uses, such as brushing your teeth or doing some other sort of self-care. We need to remember that running the water is forcing a pump to work, using electricity as well as the energy required to clean the water in the first place. It can be easy to ignore all that goes on behind the scenes for the magical clean water that comes out of the tap.
8. Turn it off!
It’s sad to think how much electricity goes to waste, especially in hotels. The best thing that you can do to reduce this is to make sure you turn everything off when you leave your hotel room. When you’re out and about, also turn your phone to airplane mode to save battery for less power consumption. Life is better when you’re in the moment anyways!
9. Eat for the world
Cut back on your red meat consumption which is better for your health and will greatly reduce your carbon footprint. This doesn’t mean you have to cut it out completely, just reduce portions, and source it ethically. Eating foods that take less energy to make (basically anything that is less processed and more natural) will reduce waste.
10. Adapt to your climate
The next time you’re very cold, put on more layers of clothes. The next time you’re hot, take off some clothes. Simple but it avoids relying on the super electricity sucker that is an air conditioner or heater.
11. Waste less food
There’s so much food waste on the planet, and as you know, it took lots of energy to get the food to you in the first place. Plus, when the food you don’t eat breaks down it creates more carbon dioxide. It’s better to just eat the correct amount from the start. Do it for our planet, your waistline, and mental health because you’ll feel so much better when you eat properly.
12. Personal care optimization
Avoid personal care products that are damaging to the environment such as the ones that contain micro-beads which are tiny pieces of plastic that never biodegrade and are commonly found in face washes and even toothpaste. Stop buying personal care products that aren’t good for the planet. Almost every item has a natural alternative!
This one is kind of obvious, but recycle everything that you can, whether it’s donating it, re-purposing it yourself, or sending it somewhere to be properly recycled you will reduce your carbon footprint immensely.
There are tons of strategies and steps that we can take to make our travel more eco-friendly. I believe these 13 strategies are the major ones to implement, but if you have more, do let me know.
If we all do our part, we can greatly improve the the state of our mother earth!