*This travel sustainably blog post is in collaboration with Opodo
Sustainability – it's the word on everybody's lips these day. But have you considered whether your summer holiday is helping your carbon footprint? It's one of the hardest challenges to try and make sure you travel sustainably when everything in the industry seems to be working against you. It doesn't matter whether you're travelling to Johannesburg, Copenhagen or Ibiza, we all have a duty to do our best. As someone who has been travelling for the last five years, I've found some small ways that can really help reduce your impact on the environment and the local cultures of the places you visit. After all, as travellers, it's not our job to leave our mark on the places we visit. Rather they should be leaving their mark on our hearts. Click here for further information on responsible tourism.
9 ways to reduce your impact and travel sustainably
Don't engage in animal tourism
In the five years since I first volunteered at an elephant sanctuary, huge political waves have been made as a result of tourists voting with their wallets. You may think choosing not to have a photo with a chained monkey on the street, or riding an elephant won't change the world. But it does, now the Thai elephant industry has changed to focus on sanctuaries that protect the elephants thanks to tourists. It's not perfect yet, but huge changes result from the decisions you make.
Buy sustainable products
Something we all have the power to do on a daily basis. This covers everything from toiletries and clothing, to food. Start taking responsibility and choose sustainable and even vegan products which have less of an impact. Not only will you be changing your individual impact but you could help push the industry towards more sustainable living.
Booking eco-friendly accommodation
This could mean staying in a self-sustainable property which uses renewable energy such as solar and wind power, and grows it's own food. It could also mean skipping the luxury hotels and choosing to support local businesses or even staying at a homestay. Don't choose Airbnb, instead go and stay with the local people to get a real understanding of the community and to support them individually. You can also find lots of community ventures such as restaurants run by the homeless.
Packing biodegradable sunscreen
So many don't realise that sunscreen washes off your skin in the ocean and the chemicals in it can be extremely harmful to animals and coral reefs. Apparently around 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen wash into the ocean each year and this can lead to coral bleaching. Choose a biodegradable sunscreen from Holland and Barrett, or choose great brands including Green People, Soleil Toujours, COOLA, Ren and Caudalie.
Using public transport
My favourite one! Stop taking Ubers, stop flying everywhere, stop driving as much. It's so simple when so many countries have fantastic public transport networks. Plus travelling on public transport abroad is much cheaper, it's usually pretty quick and it's part of the experience! If you do fly, why not offset your carbon emissions?
Respecting local cultures
This covers so many different things but the most important thing is taking a step back and appreciating the new culture, without trying to force Western culture on them. This includes dressing appropriately, behaving modestly and conforming to local customs.
Travelling to lesser-known destinations
This works for both sides – you get to go off the beaten track and explore somewhere untouched. And tourism will benefit in the area from the money you spend, while easing the pressure in more popular countries. Plus you'll usually find these countries are significantly cheaper to travel.
Combining multiple trips
A great way to save money and your carbon footprint. Why travel home and use another flight when you can stay longer and travel by bus or train to the next destination? I'm a big advocate for slow travel and this is the best way to really save money and the planet, plus to really absorb culture.
Water is such a precious resource and travelling makes you so much more aware of how many don't have access to it in the way we do. Treasure it, don't waste it. Be respectful and grateful for what you have, and what others' don't.
How do you try to reduce your carbon footprint? What is your best tip for those trying to travel sustainably?