Eco-exchange Week 10

Careless travelling to careful travelling

As the holiday season approaches this week we’re looking at ways you can travel more mindfully of the environment. This is a vast topic so we’ve made it simple; here’s our ten tips for reducing your impact of the environment when going on holiday.

  1. Reduce The amount of clothes you buy

We have a real culture in the Western world to do a “holiday clothes” shop. We spend a lot of time, money and energy buying lovely outfits that will be worn during the week or two we’re away. The question is do you really need a new wardrobe? Are the shorts you bought last year still good? It’s worth asking yourself these questions as “fast fashion” is having a negative impact on the environment. From the human cost of underpaid women and children in the developing world making your clothes for 12 hours a day to the landfill costs of tonnes of clothes being thrown out every year to the CO2 emissions needed for the making and transport of new clothes. We’ve certainly looked at the way we’ve shopped and hugely reduced out consumerism. We still look nice in our old stuff and we’ve saved a bob or two!

Less packing means less laundry!

2. If you need new clothes buy sustainably

Ok so sometimes your really do need new stuff. We have a little one who is growing rapidly and the things she wore last summer simply don’t fit her this year. For me also breast feeding has seen off any boobs I once had so new swimwear is a must! This blog abut women’s swimwear gives some advice about the eco brands out there. They are on the expensive side for sure but if you’re buying less you may have a little more to spend on the odd special item. We love the Babipur website which stocks lovely ethical clothing for children. There’s a lot of different clothing brands we could go into but I’ll leave that for a blog of its very own!

3. Limit your luggage

For every 3kg of weight you take onto a plane it uses 1kg of fuel to transport it, and that’s about 2kg worth of CO2 emissions which is 10 plastic bags worth. Yep we were surprised too, that’s quite a lot. On an upcoming flight we have 21kg checked luggage allowance per person. There’s three of us so potentially we could use 21kg fuel just to transport our checked luggage. We looked at this an reckon we could get all of our luggage into one person’s allowance and thus reduce our fuel usage by 2/3. The average bladder can hold around 500ml when it is full too so a tactical wee before you board could save a couple of kgs across a family, plus you’ll need to lessen your trips to the gross plane loos. Do you really need the heavy magazine? Maybe you do but it’s worth applying this thought pattern to everything you pack in your bags and boards with in your hand luggage. Not only will it be much easier carting less heavy luggage around, it’s greener too.

4. Coral friendly sun cream

That’s right folk sun cream kills coral. 4 of the ingredients commonly found in sun creams have been found to reactivate dormant viruses which kill the algae that live in coral. The coral needs the algae to survive thus the coral dies off too. According to the National Geographic 4-6K tonnes of sun cream enters the ocean every year  and up to 10% of coral is threatened buy it. We’ve made the switch to Jason sun cream which is not only coral friendly, it’s friendly to skin too. Great if you’ve got a little one with sensitive skin.

5. Offset your carbon footprint 

This is potentially controversial; the idea that you can do anything you want without consideration if climate change then throw a little money at an environmental scheme and you’re good. However, the fact is that many of us still wish to fly away on holiday. Yes it’s greener to holiday at home but for many people (including us) a trip abroad is a nice treat. If like us you want to offset your carbon footprint in addition to making other changes to be more green such as getting on less planes, then offsetting is a positive thing. You can find more about this debate here.

We love this resource from the World Land Trust.  They help you to calculate the CO2 cost of a flight you’re taking, the commute you make and even your day to day household costs.

They have some really great projects to help you offset your carbon footprint and more importantly do great conservation work. You can buy an acre of land which literally extended nature reserves acre by acre. It may not offer quantifiable CO2 credits but it’s a pretty amazing thing they’re doing and will offset CO2 through tree planting. There is a particular project in Borneo in which you can buy and save vital ancient rainforest corridors to protect the rainforest wildlife which has been devastated by deforestation over the decades. An additional affordable option is to plant a tree via their website. You directly fund the planting if trees into several key conservation areas from Ecuador to Kenya Brazil. The bottom line is these guys are ace!

6. Take your cotton shopping bag with you

You may need to nip to the supermarket whilst your away for snack or simply go out to buy souvenirs. Either way your plastic bag doesn’t bio-degrade any better abroad so don’t forget your cotton shopping bag.

7. Reuse your towels

Most hotels have a towel recycling policy where you stick them in the bath to be washed or on a hook to reuse. When you’re at home how often do you wash your towels? Try to keep to the same frequency when abroad to reduce water use.

8. Avoid travel size products

But we just told you to reduce your luggage weight right? We certainly advocate for taking only what you need on holiday but it’s much better to use reusable travel sized containers than to purchase travel size. Simply travel sized products have more packaging which id often difficult to recycle. Reusing small containers cuts out this waste and cuts the cost in the long term too.

9. Conserve water

As we know from our soap nut shells article, fresh water is a precious commodity. Even more so in some European countries such as Malta which face huge shortages. When holidaying try to apply the same consideration to conserving water as you do at home. Shower rather than take baths and keep them short if you can.

10. Don’t waste food

It’s easy when you’re all inclusive to pile your plate high with food and leave what you don’t want because you’ve paid for it anyway. Try to avoid this habit and get the amount you’d usually eat. You can always make extra trips! If you’re self-catering try to plan meals so that you don’t buy food which ends up uneaten and in the bin.

Hopefully this article will help you to make some green choices for the upcoming holiday season and maybe even save you a few quid! Do you have any ideas on eco-travelling? Do you feel inspired to implement any of the measures above? As always I love hearing from people that are interested, inspired or even incensed (!) by my blog so please do comment below!


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