How to Be an Environmentally Friendly Traveler

World Environment Day

On World Environment Day (June 5), we’re all encouraged to think of ways in which we can contribute to slowing down or reversing the damage we’re causing to our fragile planet.  Whether you focus on climate change, air pollution, safe drinking water or toxic waste, there are hundreds of ways in which we can all be better environmental stewards.

Some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations are also those struggling the hardest to combat environmental hazards. Next time you’re on the road, consider these ways in which you can leave a smaller footprint and do your part to make the world a cleaner, healthier and more livable place for future generations.

Dump the Plastic

Plastic bags are mounting up in landfills all over the planet – and many more are lying on beaches, floating in our oceans and clogging up pipelines that are essential for the distribution of clean drinking water in developing countries. Many places have now banned plastic bags altogether, and you could face a steep fine for using them. Tuck a cloth bag into your backpack and learn to live without the plastic.

Use Public Transportation

Becoming familiar with the bus system in a foreign city will save you money, give you a chance to rub elbows with the locals, and cut down on emissions. Every time you climb on board, you’ll be cutting back on the footprint you leave in a country that may already have more environmental problems than they can handle.

Hotel Rooms Aren’t “Free Zones”

Some travelers seem to think that hotel rooms are somehow exempt from the usual responsible things they do at home. Like lowering the air conditioning, reusing towels, turning off lights and keeping showers short. You might not be paying for the electricity, but the planet is still paying for wasted energy.

Eat Local

If you’re traveling to broaden your experience, make sure that extends to the local cuisine. Remember that anything you eat which wasn’t locally grown had to be shipped in – usually to please the tourists. That’s tons of fuel emissions which could be eliminated if travelers ate and drank the local fare rather than insist on imported favorites.

Question the Need for Bottled Water

Sure, the water in many countries isn’t safe to drink, but do you always need to buy a bottle? In some cases, using a filter on a reusable bottle is sufficient and, in many places, the tap water is perfectly fine. Just think about it before you add another tube of non-recycled plastic to the billions presently floating on our oceans.

Support Eco-Friendly Hotels

Before booking, find out whether your hotel has a recycling program, encourages energy efficiency, and has “greened” its business practices. If guests begin to demand that hotels be environmentally responsible, change will follow – and the best way to encourage change is to vote with your wallet.

Watch Where You’re Walking

Outdoor adventuring is wonderful, but be sure to stay on marked paths and pack out whatever you carry in. You don’t want to be responsible for destroying fragile ecosystems or leaving behind anything other than new friendships and memories.

And finally, use a travel sheet. Hotels use billions of gallons of water, tons of harsh detergents and a massive amount of energy to clean hotel sheets. A Brave Era Travel Sheet will not only keep you critter-free and protect you from allergens, but you can let the front desk know you won’t need the bed changed if you’re staying for a couple of nights, doing your part to cut back on unnecessary laundering.