The travel industry’s positive impact on our lives is undeniable.
Starting with the obvious economic and social value – the tourism sector creates a total of 320 million jobs, which accounts for 10% of all employment. Not to mention the potential to improve individuals’ well-being – increasing cultural understanding, enriching experiences and stress relief.
All of this contributes to a higher life satisfaction. But what about the environmental impact of travel? Is it positive or negative?
Looking at research on the topic, the results are pessimistic. The carbon footprint generated by the tourism industry makes up a total of 8% of all carbon emissions. That is four times worse than expected, and the numbers are constantly increasing.
To say the least, the current status of the trillion-dollar travel industry shows that the negative ecological footprint it leaves is greater than the (direct) contribution to GDP. That here is a red flag. As disappointing as it is, the hope to change this is still there.
In this article we want to focus namely on the prospective ecological footprint that travel has.
What can we do to slow down climate change and contribute to nature?
Much of the wildlife on Earth is endangered, the biodiversity is severely threatened, half of all forests have disappeared. While the government and companies are working on new sustainability policies and their implementation, we as individuals can also contribute to a greener life.
There are many small steps we can take to change our lifestyle, like getting into the habit of recycling, minimising electrical consumption, and preparing our meals at home. As for our holidays, we have to make mindful decisions about our mode of transportation, the destination and accommodation we choose, the way we consume and act during our holiday.
Here are some practical tips to consider:
Pick a place that is closer to home
This way you won’t have to travel by plane, and you also contribute to the local economy. In the world of globalisation, regional heritage and traditions are of increased importance. That is just another positive impact you can make for the diversification of culture and local population.
Visit an ecotourism destination
For this you’ll have to make a research on which destinations are following regulations to minimise the negative tourism impact. Another tip when choosing your holiday destination: avoid the mass tourism and invest your wanderlust in an authentic town/village. You also have to look at accommodation that is sustainable.
Buy eco friendly travel gear
The best option is to buy secondhand or borrow items from friends and family. But thankfully if you’re looking for new items there are many products out there to choose from. Rain coats and backpacks made of recycled plastics are becoming more and more popular. And if you want to go a step further you can now purchase items with eco friendly waterproffing rather than the toxic DWR
Instead of going to the big fast food chains, go to the market and buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, or other specialties of the region. When you want to buy a souvenir to remind you of your holiday, or as a gift, don’t go to the cheapest small shop on the street where the products are Chinese copies of the actual product. Find an authentic shop and buy directly from the man who crafted it.
Overall, sustainable travel is about leaving the place better than you found it. You can take your own bottle and lower the use of plastic, use less electricity, and travel by train instead of a car. But if you want to adapt an eco-friendly travel ethos, you should try “slow travel”. This means that you take longer holidays and instead of experiencing the place as a tourist, you start living there and explore the place at a slow pace.
You live in a holiday rental like a French gites, an English cottage or an Italian agriturismos; you shop and cook like the locals; you engage with the community and their culture firsthand. It’s about finding a home away from home. This is not only beneficial from an environmental perspective, but also for yourself. You’ll see for yourself how relaxing and refreshing the experience is. Forget about the hectic holidays that you plan to the second, and enjoy some peace and quietness.
An easy route to sustainable travel
As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about if you want to be an eco-friendly traveller. Still, we need to make the effort and really focus our attention on the impact we have on the environment. At the start it can seem rather daunting when you’ve never planed a sustainable trip before, but we’re here to make it easier for the beginners.
The company Nature.house offers just the right conditions for a slow travel holiday – a holiday rental with sustainable houses in nature, in remote places away from mass tourism, and the best part is that they plant trees for every night booked on their platform. Note – planting trees is estimated to be the most effective and efficient way to fight climate change.
We hope this can be your inspiration to start adopting a sustainable way of travelling and make a contribution to our collective future.