2019 started and I hadn’t even written a list of resolutions when I suddenly realized that I just wanted to be more involved in things happening around me.
I had been reading Factfulness and, besides being a good or bad book, it inspired me to find more information about daily life and to be a more aware consumer. I decided to start by what I am most passionate about: travelling.
I already knew that travelling in itself is not a sustainable thing to do; it requires too many resources and the pollution from transportation is one of the worse.
This said, I was curious to know how to be more responsible while travelling, how to have a lower impact and feel a bit less guilty about it.
I looked online, feeling motivated about wanting to make a difference and at the same time nervous about all the work I should put into this. I was anxious to find a check list of things to do because lists are the true way to make my brain work and and, when I found one that felt complete and legitimate, I was almost surprised by the fact that the way I have been travelling covered quite some (to me obvious) good green behaviors. I am a big supporter of intuitive intelligence and it made me very happy to know that I was already on the right path thanks to the information and feelings I had accumulated as an observer.
There is still a lot I can do and the fact that I am already half way through gives me the right motivation to make a list of 2019 green travel resolutions:
- Travel less
- Keep on being sustainable as I’ve done so far, but with awareness*
- Raise awareness about green travel options on social media and daily life
- Give back by participating in the Pack for a Purpose
- Stay only at establishments run by locals and travel with small group operators that are based locally
I am motivated to believe that travelling less is going to be the most difficult point to accomplish and I am curious to share my experience at the end of the year.
At the moment instead I would like to share those unconscious behaviors that I have already been doing and that I wish I won’t forget to embrace in all my future trips.
TRANSPORTATION Transportation is ultimately the least green part of travelling. The CO2 emissions are difficult to keep under control and in some case there are few alternatives, but we can make eco-friendly choices around it.
- Booking non-stop flights
- Car sharing when on the road
For all our trips of 2018 we decided to fly direct; not only it reduces the pollution, but it also makes travelling much easier and enjoyable for a relatively small difference in price.
When renting a car (we don’t have one to start with) we always asked friends to tag along so that we would share extra time together and have a full car to drive around. Besides being much more entertaining to drive with other people, it is also financially beneficial, it just requires some extra planning and a bit of more flexibility to adapt to everybody’s needs.
WATER AND ENERGY SAVING This is something that we embrace at home and we just don’t forget to take with us while travelling.
- Don’t wash towels after every use
- Don’t do laundry for a single piece of clothing
- Don’t use the “Please clean room” lightly
- Turn off A/C, lights and any electrical device when leaving the room
- Go around by bike, public transportation or simply on foot
- Bring a refillable water bottle and reusable bags
- Take home the leftovers
To me all these points seem quite obvious, but I want to give a couple of insider information that maybe not everybody is familiar with.
Hotel policies are quite strict and the management generally doesn’t take the risk of being object of complains. For this reason there are three unspoken rules that we better know: all the towels left on the ground will be automatically replaced with clean ones; the laundry requested by each guest will be processed separately and the sign “Please clean my room” means that the whole room will be completely cleaned taking time from the staff and consuming detergents, electricity and water.
It’s clear enough why we should be aware and conscious about them and try to think it through before asking for a service that we don’t really need.
BE RESPECTFUL This might be ultimately the most difficult point, but part of being a green traveller is not to steal or spoil the authenticity of places. For this reason it’s a priority to study about the society we are visiting, understand it and try to blend in as much as possible.
- Honor local customs
- Learn a bit about the cultural traditions
- Learn some few words
- Keep a distance from animals
- Don’t be invasive when taking pictures
I am both against zoos and people who take travelling as a visit at one of them. I always have.
People don’t realize that even agreeing on touching a sedated wild animal ruins the ecosystem or that taking pictures of intimate portraits of strangers is an aggressive statement.
Learning some simple words is already a big showcase of wanting to communicate and making an effort to understand each other. Embracing local customs is the least we can do to show that we value our experience in a foreign environment.
I really hope everybody would be open to try these easy steps towards sustainable travelling and I can guarantee that they don’t require any effort and don’t take anything from the trip experience, if not the opposite.