Welcome to our first ever guest blog, written by Jamie from Jungle Culture!
It’s April 2021 and we’re all still in the midst of a pandemic that has pretty much destroyed our travelling plans, but let’s not be deterred or pessimistic. The pandemic will end, travelling will resume and our news feeds will once again be brimming with photos of hot dog legs, cocktails on the beach and plane selfies.
The question is, does travelling have to resume in the same format that we left it? Can we somehow use the pandemic to inspire ourselves to be more sustainable and if so, how do we do it?
We all need help and guidance to change our bad habits, and although this article is not a complete recipe for travelling sustainably, we’ve done our best to pull together some of the ingredients!
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainabletravel.org breaks sustainable travel down into several key areas:
- Safeguarding nature
- Combating climate change
- Empowering communities
- Waste and pollution
In order to travel sustainably long-term, as conscious citizens of the world, we need to take all 4 categories into consideration when we’re planning our trips. This may sound a bit daunting, but hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have some easy (and fun) tips to get you started!
Tips for safeguarding nature
Protecting our natural world should be number 1 on our list of priorities when we venture abroad, but what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment while we travel?
- Say no to overconsumption!
Instead of staying at an all inclusive 5 star resort, why not try something more simple? Be brave! Eat at local restaurants and stay in smaller Airbnbs or locally run hotels. Large hotels, chain restaurants and resorts are all extremely wasteful. Switch things up and think small!
Going off the beaten path and getting out of your comfort zone will enrich your travelling experience and give you great stories to tell when you come home. Switching to boutique accommodation also allows you to support a local business and provide an income for the hotel owner and their staff.
- Travel slow and travel deep
If, like many of us you are now working from home, why not exercise this new found freedom and travel for longer, slower. Get to know the culture, people and traditions of the country that you’re visiting by taking an extended vacation vs. a quick week long getaway.
Even before the pandemic, lots of “digital nomads” were travelling whilst working. Travelling slowly is much better for the environment as you’ll be living a more localised lifestyle. (Added bonus – It’s cheaper too!)
- Use efficient modes of transport
Travelling from London to New York by plane can emit up to 986kg of carbon/per passenger according to German non-profit Atmosfair. Comparatively, travelling by train emits just 1/20th of the emissions.
Of course, sadly we don’t yet have the technology for trans-atlantic train travel! However, if you’re travelling in Europe, Asia and yes, even the US, why not skip the queues at the airport and book a train instead!
Use the Guardian’s flight calculator to work out how much CO2 your flight is emitting: Check here
Tips for combating climate change
Global temperatures are increasing, the ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising. It’s all so gloomy, but there are some simple steps we as travellers can take to counteract this huge environmental issue.
It all starts with awareness! If most of us knew exactly how much damage was being caused by our latest trip to Bermuda or that weekend away in Paris, we’d probably factor it into our decision-making!
Luckily, nowadays it’s quick and easy to calculate the CO2 impact of our travels and invest in renewable energy or planting trees to counteract the damage caused by our trips. This process is known as carbon offsetting and you can calculate your carbon emissions right here.
Tips for empowering communities
Keep your dollars, pounds and euros local when you travel and make a difference to small business owners! Here are some easy tips for investing in the local economy and community when you travel:
1. Book tours directly with the guides
Instead of booking your tours via the guide at your hotel check out Airbnb experiences!
Their tours are hosted by local people and tend to be extremely authentic and enlightening. The great thing about Airbnb experiences is that you can see pictures, read reviews and even customise your tour based on your own unique preferences!
2. Invest in higher quality souvenirs
It’s hard to believe, but souvenirs bought at a local market in Turkey or Brazil may just be mass produced by a factory in China. Typically, a local distributor will purchase in bulk and resale the same factory produced items to every market stall and vendor in an area.
Look out for souvenirs that are produced locally by local craftspeople. Shop wisely, research local crafts online and ask local people what types of products are made in the area that you’re staying.
3. Eat locally!
The best way that you can support the local community whilst you’re travelling is by eating out in their restaurants! Try something new and leave reviews, they’ll appreciate it more than you know!
Tips for reducing waste and pollution
Avoiding plastic completely whilst travelling is difficult. You’re in unfamiliar terrain and before you’re able to locate your nearest zero waste shop, you’ll probably find yourself running out of toothpaste tablets, shampoo bars and everything in between!
The problem for sustainable travellers is that just as you form an attachment to one deodorant brand, you’re in a new country where you may not have access to the same products. You’ll need to be flexible when purchasing perishable products such as deodorant, toothpaste and soap… Test out local products and ask people for advice. You’ll find that 90% of the time, there are options available for those who are willing to look hard enough!
Another fantastic way to cut out waste whilst travelling, is to pack 2 zero waste kits (bathroom and on-the-go). Here’s a list of product we would recommend to any global citizen:
Bathroom waste kit
Safety razors – This will be the last razor you ever buy! For a small upfront investment, you’ll be shaving plastic-free for the rest of your life. Safety razors are easy to use and they look much better in your bathroom. It’s a no-brainer!
Make-up wipes – One bag of reusable make-up wipes will last up to one year! No plastic, low cost and easy to wash!
Other bathroom products – Find deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soap and everything in between at LUSH. The reason we love LUSH is because they have stores worldwide so it’s a lot easier to pick-up replacements or order delivery online.
On-the-go waste kit
Reusable water bottle – Some countries do not have potable drinking water and looking for clean, plastic-free water can quickly become frustrating when you’re in a hot climate. A reusable water bottle is an absolute travel must-have and there’s plenty of options, from expensive Chilli’s bottles to mass produced patterned bottles bought at a supermarket. In our opinion, any reusable bottle is better than no reusable bottle!
Travel cutlery and straws – Street food is one of the best things about travelling, don’t ruin your appetite and your conscience by forgetting to bring sustainable utensils.
Shopping bags – Shopping at fresh produce markets is a great way to find package-free fruit and vegetables whilst abroad, the downside, dealing with the nasty plastic wrapping if you forget to bring a bag. Invest in a few Turtle bags and you’ll never have this problem again. Top tip – They double nicely as a laundry bag!
Reusable lunch box – Travel with a reusable lunch box and you’ll never need single-use plates again! At Jungle Culture we love bento boxes, they’re perfect for eating out and they double up as handy storage cases for your travel trinkets!
Hopefully we’ve been able to offer some valuable advice for travellers who are trying to lessen their environmental impact whilst abroad. It may be a lot to take in, but the first step is just being conscious of how your travel plans affect the communities around you.
Guest Blogger Bio
Jamie Skinner – Co-founder of Jungle Culture & Jungle Straws
My name is Jamie and I am a transient entrepreneur with a passion for positive impact!
Jungle Culture‘s philosophy is to inspire people to see the beauty & purpose in nature. We create earth-friendly and functional goods sourced directly from independent artisans & makers from all over the world. We believe in fair and honest manufacturing and care deeply about building relationships with the local communities that we work alongside.
Are you interested in becoming a Wild & Green guest blogger? Get in touch!