Every person who respects and loves nature has already thought about what can they do to protect the environment and travel more eco-friendly. Many of us have bins for sorting garbage at home, but even while traveling, you find a lot of ecological solutions. And especially when you really love the country, you wouldn’t want to leave your carbon footprints there at every step.
The following situation has happened to me recently: I was in a traffic jam on a bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu (Nepal). The cars were so close to each other that it was possible to drive and shake hands with everyone from the next vehicle. Then I saw how some women finished her drink and threw the bottle outside of the window. Nepal’s beauty is incomparable but unfortunately, locals do not understand this at all. I had to scream from the bus window that what she did was wrong, well I just couldn’t hold back.
So here is the list of things that will help you travel more eco-friendly
1. Reuse plastic bottles instead of buying new ones
Nowadays it is rarely possible to find a country where it is safe to drink tap water, especially in Asia (Singapore does not count!). Therefore, you need to buy water in a store. It is really great if you can buy a huge bottle of water and a small one, and refill the small bottle for day trips. Also, more and more hotels and hostels start to offer water refills which makes it even more convenient and eco-friendly.
2. Reuse plastic bags and shopping bags
Try not to buy new bags for every trip to the store. Hide a few bags in your purse for future purchases and you will never forget the bags at home. The best option is to get a textile bag for products – it’s both stylish and environmentally friendly.
3. Don’t use plastic straws
Straws are a permanent “accessory” for every drink in Asia because tourists are recommended to avoid any direct contact with glasses or cups because they are often not getting washed properly. As a result, the oceans simply teem with plastic straws. Each year, 1 million gulls and sea turtles, fish and mammals die from accidentally swallowing straws.
4. Don’t use printed maps or guides
As for me, the most useless things in the digital age are printed cards and thousand-year-old guides. I doubt that someone uses them when traveling other than for beautiful photos of your morning coffee or photos of a traveler’s accessories in flat lay style. Unfortunately, trees die because of that, and brochures, maps, and guide books may not even be recycled.
5. Don’t leave light and AC on when you go out
When at home, you turn off everything before leaving to save energy and for safety reasons. So why should it change when you are traveling? You can support the local community simply by turning the light off and let them save some money on electric bills.
6. Leave “Do not Disturb” sign on the door
If you are staying at a hotel where daily cleaning is provided, don’t use this service without special needs. This way you can keep almost unused plastic garbage bags, washing towels and bedding that is still fresh. Also, I feel more secure when I know that nobody is supposed to enter the room and I can even avoid spending extra tips.
7. Use your own shampoo and shower gel
I am sure you’ve noticed that hotels place small plastic bottles with shampoo and shower in the bathroom. In most hotels, maids do not refill them but place new ones which creates a lot of plastic waste, so you can bring a big thing of your own shampoo when possible.
8. Sort and recycle trash if possible
If the country you are traveling to has recycling bins for each type of trash, you should use it even though you are just a visitor on vacation.
9. Give away clothes to people in need
When I visited Dubai, I saw special places where you could donate unnecessary clothes and shoes to those in need. There they have iron boxes with lids where you throw any kinds of clothes, even underwear. That’s super convenient and most importantly, meaningful and sustainable.
10. Fully load the washing machine.
To avoid running the washing machine with just a couple of T-shirts and ruthlessly wasting electricity and water, load the drum to the fullest.
These ideas are universal for any country. Let’s follow basic rules to preserve our environment and water supplies!