Tourism is increasingly impacting the environment. So how can we be more energy efficient travellers? We need to ensure that we become more sustainable when travelling but also as individuals
There’s no doubt that travel is one of the most rewarding things to do – for individuals, especially if it’s energy-efficient travel, but also for the world. Seeing and understanding different cultures and experiencing new experiences are very important in the world today, and both of these come with travel.
One of the downsides to extensive travel is the potential for creating a huge carbon footprint, and in a world where we are increasingly seeing the effects of climate change, every effort needs to be made to be more energy efficient – including in travel.
Climate Change and Responsible Travel
Research shows that between 2009 and 2013, worldwide tourism was responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions highlighting just how important it is for us to be more energy efficient travellers.
The reality is that the world is changing beyond recognition due to climate change and we all need to play our part. By trying to be more energy efficient both at home and as a traveller we can all make a small difference which, when put together, makes big differences.
So, what small differences can you make which can contribute to saving the planet and making you a more energy efficient traveller?
Being Eco-Friendly At Home
Before you even step outside the house, there are a number of things which you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.
- Keep your house energy efficient – There are a number of changes that you can make to your every day life including fitting solar panels, reducing the amount of water that you use and getting an EPC survey, which can give you energy saving recommendations.
- Un-plug your appliances – When you are leaving to go away, make sure that you un-plug your electrical appliances. Even if they are not being used, they still draw energy if they are plugged in, leaving you with higher energy bills and greater impact on the environment.
- Turn down your heating – You don’t need to heat your home to the same temperatures if you are not going to be there. So, if you are going away, turn the heating down as low as possible and use timers to keep your energy consumption levels to a minimum.
Planning Your Responsible Trip
There are many things that can be done when you are planning your trip:
- Choosing your destination – When you are deciding on where to go, think about choosing a place that takes sustainability seriously. By supporting these places, you are both strengthening their cause and sending a message to other places which do not take it seriously. Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index is also a good indicator of how seriously countries are taking environmental factors.
- Method of travel – Of course the less travel that you do, the lower the environmental impact. However, some ways to travel are greener than others. Consider using trains as they are the most energy efficient form of travel and try to take the most direct route as possible (and non-stop – as stopping uses up extra fuel). There are some airlines which take energy efficiency more seriously than others. Try to use these airlines (information should be found on their websites) and some booking websites can also help you to find the most energy efficient options.
- Energy Efficient Accommodation – Some hotels take energy efficiency more seriously than others. It is worth doing some research when you are deciding on your accommodation to see what measures they have taken to reduce their impact on the environment. Bodies such as Green Globe and LEED can help.
- Plan energy efficient activities – If you are planning activities to do on your trip, plan to do energy efficient activities such as cycling, horse riding, scuba diving or trekking, rather than helicopter flights or driving tours. If you do do driving tours, try to do them in a group.
Whilst you are There
Whilst you are away there are some things that you can change – and some things which should stay the same regardless of where you are.
- Carry on energy saving as much as you can – Try to continue with what you do at home – take re-usable water bottles or coffee cups, try to not buy additional packaging, avoid plastic bags and buy locally sourced produce or souvenirs, for example.
- Explore places on foot – As long as it’s safe to do so, explore your destination on foot rather than in a car or bus. As well as saving energy, you will almost certainly see, hear and smell things that you weren’t expecting.
- Turn down your air-con – Try to use your air-conditioning as little as possible, but if you need it, keep it as low as you can. Also remember that your room will stay cool for a while after the air-conditioning is turned off.
Being an energy efficient traveller is becoming increasingly important in the world today. By being conscientious about what and how you are doing things has an impact on the environment, you can help to play your part in creating a sustainable planet whilst benefitting from everything that travel brings.