The Eco-Friendly Traveler: How to See the World Sustainably

Travelling the world is an incredible experience. Planning that next trip though poses the issue of the tourism industry’s detrimental effect on the environment.

As the world begins to reopen and travel once again becomes possible, it is vital to think about the environmental impact of travel and consider ways that we can see the world while mitigating our environmental impact. While tourism generally has a negative effect on climate change, global warming and the environment, there are sustainable travel tips we can all implement on our next adventure to help build a more sustainable tourism industry.

What is the Problem?

The relationship between travel and climate change is a complex one and the environmental impact of travel is one that is built on many different factors.

Perhaps one of the most publicised of these factors is carbon emissions. The tourism industry is a large producer of carbon emissions, with the airline industry being a particular contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental impact of flying is something that we are just starting to really understand. However, with carbon emissions from tourism transport accounting for five percent of global CO2 emissions in 2016 and the overall travel industry accounting for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions between 2009 and 2013, the carbon footprint of tourism is of concern.

While the environmental impact of flying is an overwhelmingly negative one, the environmental impact of the travel industry does not stop there. The tourism industry contributes to plastic pollution levels, over depletion of resources to cater to large influxes of people and environment and habitat destruction for the development and exploitation of natural attractions and tourism venues. All these practices are contributing factors to climate change and global warming.

What can we Do?

The great news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to never leaving your hometown, there are ways to see amazing places around the world while still limiting your contribution to the environmental impact of travel and the carbon footprint of tourism. These three of the top sustainable travel tips.

Avoid the Plane

As we have seen, the environmental impact of flying is overwhelmingly negative, so for your next adventure with sustainable tourism, avoid the plane. Check out places closer to home and take trains and busses whenever possible. Not only will this reduce your environmental impact but you might see some cool things on the way too.

Cut down on Plastic

Plastic pollution is a big problem for sustainable tourism. In the Mediterranean, a recent report found that during peak tourist seasons, marine litter increased by 40%. Taking simple steps like using reusable products such as refillable water bottles, avoiding buying things with excess packaging and taking your own toiletries can all help to reduce the environmental impact of travel.

Research your Accommodation and Activities

There is a move in the tourism industry to adopt more sustainable practices, and many accommodation providers and tour operators are taking steps to limit their environmental impact. Before you book any accommodation or activities, research the providers, check if there are any local sustainability accreditations and only book with those that are implementing practices to limit their environmental impact.

Travel is a life-changing experience and while historically the environmental impact of the travel sector is one that has been overwhelmingly negative, change is possible.

With a global focus on more sustainable practices, there are changes occurring in the tourism industry towards more sustainable tourism initiatives and many organisations are taking steps to help reduce the carbon footprint of tourism. On a more personal level, there are sustainable travel tips we can all adopt as well and steps we can all take when travelling to ensure that we are helping to make sure that the world stays just as beautiful for people to explore for generations to come.

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