It’s close to impossible to stay immobile for the habitual explorer. Traveling has become a way to rejuvenate, open ourselves up to great unknowns, and in some cases, procure a picturesque Instagram feed. While there are countless upsides to traveling, we should not forget that it also poses a number of hazards to Mother Nature. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to minimize our carbon footprint while on the road. It takes a little effort and some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it all along.
Here are eight basic tips to get you started:
1. Buy refillable containers for your toiletries.
To ensure that you dispose less trash, do away with sachets or travel-sized containers. Simply buy refillable bottles and load them up as needed with the contents of your toiletry stash at home. This will also save you moolah in the long run since you're not purchasing in small quantities and, instead, get your essentials in bigger containers.
2. Use organic products.
This is most essential for travels that involve swimming in the ocean. We often overlook the fact that whatever we slather on our bodies ends up being eaten by our little underwater friends. The usual sunscreens we use, for instance, are comprised of chemicals that are toxic to corals and fish. Opting for organic or all-natural products means we can enjoy our sweet (or salty, rather) time in the water while making sure we aren’t killing anything under the sea.
3. Bring an eco-bag in case you need it.
It’s light and foldable, anyway, so you can use it as your main bag or stow it in the one you’re using. You might not realize how many plastic and paper bags you acquire and don’t really have use for until you have a pile of them. So the next time you're handed your purchase packed in a paper bag or plastic, politely give the wrapper back and toss your new buy in your eco-bag.
4. Bring a tumbler or a reusable bottle at all times.
Not only will you do away the number one eco-enemy that is plastic; you also end up saving (again!) a few hundred bucks from not having to buy bottled water throughout your trip. Imagine how many plastic bottles you could potentially spare from swimming in a pile of trash in the ocean when you start doing this. Plus, when you’re dining in restaurants and ask for service water, having them put it in your bottle means one glass less to wash for them. (Hurray for less water and soap consumption!) Plus points for sporting a chic water bottle, too.
5. Always have a handy cutlery set ready.
For places that provide plastic straws and utensils, tell the attendants to not include them when they serve your food or beverage so you can use your own instead. Again, this will help lessen plastic wastage. The set I take around with me includes a wooden spoon, fork, knife and chopsticks, two steel straws, and a straw cleaner. If this seems like a chore, start by requesting to have the straws taken out from your drinks. You’ll eventually find it imperative to bring your own and ease your way into carrying a basic set of utensils around with you.
6. Pick up trash you see in places where they’re not supposed to be.
Apart from doing the minimum of properly throwing and segregating your own trash, stretch your capacity and pick up the junk you see along your path, especially when you’re at the beach. The garbage you find on the shore will end up polluting the ocean and become detrimental to marine life.
Better yet, if there are small groups that organize clean-ups, go the extra mile and volunteer at one of their sessions if you have an afternoon to spare. It'll only take an hour or two and you’ll most likely end up meeting new friends, too.
7. Conserve everything you can in your hotel room.
Choose an eco-hotel or a lodge that promotes green living as much as you can. Green hotels include, but are not limited to, those that use solar panels for power, are situated within a naturally lush environment, and have non air-conditioned room options.
Once you’ve checked in your temporary nook, make sure you turn all the lights off and unplug all appliances in the room every time you head out. Also see to it that you reuse the towels provided by the hotel by hanging them properly. Keep in mind that you do not need a fresh towel every single time you take a shower.
8. Dine at places with locally-sourced ingredients.
This ensures that fuel wasn’t consumed in transporting these ingredients to land on your plate. Besides, homegrown produce also translates to freshness and lower cost, so it’s pretty much all in favor of the environment, your palette, and your pocket.
Once you get used to doing the basics, you’ll naturally be more conscious of your travel habits and how they impact your surroundings. In the long run, you may want to expand your knowledge on how you can take it a step further. Several environmentally-conscious groups like Muni are out there to teach us their ways on minimizing our carbon footprint when we travel. Let’s strive to live in a planet where everyone is looking out for everyone else. Spread the green vibes!
Preview.ph’s guest editor for the month of March is the Bookie PH team. Comprised of Dijo Songco and Monica Copuyoc, these frequent nomads run a travel website whose goal is to make all your local travels happen. If you’re interested in seeing our country's unreal natural beauty, head over to their website to create your summer adventure.