Happy summer! As the days are getting warmer, I know we're all starting to scheme up our plans to enjoy this absolutely gorgeous weather. Personally I've already started looking at bus tickets around Quebec's countryside...
One of you lovely individuals requested I write a post about how to make these fun trips a bit more sustainable. We can definitely start to get a bit careless when we're travelling and wandering, which is ironic considering we're hurting the very nature we've set out to enjoy. So, this post will share some of my best recommendations for making sure you don't do this, at least to the best of your ability.
You can start reducing your impact before you ever leave home by considering carefully your mode of transportation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, cars are responsible for almost a fifth of all American carbon emissions. And if you happen to be flying, you should know that one transatlantic flight contributes around the same emissions as a year of driving.
This all sucks. But Ethigirl never presents a problem without a solution. The systemic thing to do is to choose alternative modes of travel: such as public transit like buses and trains, or if that isn't an option then carpooling. But if none of that stuff works, the other thing you can do (which is less systemic but still helps) is offset your emissions by purchasing a carbon credit.
If you've never heard of this option before, the basic premise is that there are organizations such as the social enterprise Terrapass who allow you to pay them to contribute funds to a host of sustainability projects, such as financial support for alternative energy farms or methane capture initiatives. And the best part is that purchasing a carbon credit isn't that expensive at all! In the case of Terrapass, you can offset every 1,000lbs for $5.
Moreover, when you're there, make sure that if you're travelling somewhere with any sort of transportation network (whether it be public buses, a metro system, or others) to SUPPORT IT. Many locations pour less-than-great financial investments into their transit systems, reducing accessibility and increasing the negative impact of cars and other private vehicles. So, ensure you make it known through your actions that you as a consumer and civilian fully support and enjoy to use public transportation!
While travelling, it's really convenient to make stops at gas stations and fast food joints for meals and snacks. But, we all know that this is not only more expensive, but that it produces quite a bit of waste. So instead, try and pack stuff to go with you. You should also try and keep a few zero waste essentials with you, such as tupperware, reusable sandwich bags, tote bags, and cutlery. Keep in mind that none of this needs to be fancy - I hate the idea that zero waste requires buying something new. You don't need to purchase a fancy cutlery kit, you probably have canvas grocery bags hanging around, and regular ziploc bags are perfectly reusable for some time if you wash them out.
If you do end up having to pick up something single use, though, try to ensure that it is at least recyclable so that you can keep it in your bag until you have access to a recycling bin.
When we're on vacation, it's natural to want to buy things by which to remember it. However, we definitely get carried away with our consumer habits sometimes and buy things we don't need.
But if you really do want to buy things, try to thrift them or buy them locally. Local shops will have plenty of locally-made goodies or keepsakes for you to pick up, such as homemade honey or art prints by nearby artists.
I'd also recommend trying to choose experiences over things as souvenirs. Always ask yourself if you can go to a show rather than purchasing something from the mall.
And finally, if you are eating out (one of the best parts of vacations), attempt to choose meat alternatives whenever you can, once again in order to decrease your carbon footprint.
And there you have it! Sustainability tips for almost every aspect of your upcoming summer trip or vacation.
Have any of your own that you like to practice? Drop them in the comments? I'd love to hear all the ways in which you reduce your impact.
With love and sustainability,