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I truly believe that we all can do our part for keeping our beloved earth healthy and I know that traveling itself isn’t very helpful. However, there are some ways to follow a greener path while traveling worldwide. As someone who cares about our environment, I have found ways to reduce my carbon footprint and would love to share them with you.

Tables of Content:

1. Don’t Litter

That’s probably the most obvious one but I still can observe people, who don’t litter their garbage correctly! Better to carry your rubbish all day, instead of throwing it away somewhere. There are also other behaviors people unconsciously make while traveling:

  • Throwing away rubbish in overfilled trash cans. Keep in mind that other countries won't empty the trash bin as regularly as in your home country and your trash could fall out of the bin and will find its way to nature. It'd be better to wait for an empty bin.

  • Putting trash where the locals put their trash. Sometimes, the locals don’t know better and don’t have the consciousness of how bad it is for our environment. For Western people burning plastic is a no-go, but in Asia it's common. Please be an example and don’t do the same. Dispose of your trash correctly.

  • Throwing cigarettes on the ground. I know a lot of people do that, even in Switzerland. However, do you know that the filters of cigarettes are 98% made out of plastic? And therefore, not compostable? Instead, carry a portable ashtray with you, carry it around somehow, and throw it away properly.

2. Reduce Waste and Save Resources

Plastic, for instance, has brought us many advantages and honestly still is very useful. I'm not completely against plastic but am aware that the side effects of not recycling it correctly are destructive for our world. Wherever you are, plastic is there too. Hence, we need to reduce our plastic use drastically, particularly single-use plastic. Plastic was just one example. Paper is another too, or single-us toiletries products. The list goes on.

Down below, you'll find my favorite ways to avoid waste and save resources:

Having an eBook instead of books with you has two advantages:

  1. You’re saving resources

  2. and you have to carry less weight

Additionally, you have the whole bookstore in your pocket and don’t have to re-read the brought books over and over again. This is useful, especially when you’re traveling for a longer period. Also, if the book is not as appealing as the book cover promised, you can easily change it.

Instead of buying bottled shampoos and conditioners, buy soap bars to minimize your plastic waste. It’s easier to carry with and if you’re traveling with only carry-on luggage, you don’t have to stress about bringing too many liquids. To have them well-sorted, I recommend buying containers, where you can store your soap bars (Link).

The following is one of my favorite products to save resources; using reusable cotton pads for removing makeup or cleaning your face. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime purchase and uses while traveling and having it at your home. After using a pad put it into your laundry bag, and after washing, it can be easily re-used again. No stress about having enough pads with you and in emergency cases, you can just wash them by yourself and they’re ready for use again. You can either buy them at any sustainable grocery store or you can sew them by yourself by using old towels.

The easiest thing to do to reduce your plastic waste is to bring your tote bag. It’s stylish and it has enough space for putting your groceries in it or any other purchase. You won’t need any single-use plastic anymore and it doesn’t need much space in your luggage as well.

Another easy way to reduce single-use plastic is to bring your bottle of water. There are many places, where you can refill your bottle or just ask a restaurant, cafe, hotel, or bar if they can do so.

I know it's more fun to drink your drink with a straw, but have you known that in some countries they're banned? Indonesia and the Philippines for instance mostly use reusable straws made out of bamboo, metal, or made out of rice-flour. If you want to enjoy your drink with a straw, consider buying a metal one and carrying it with you, or just say no to it.

3. Travel Light

Have you ever asked yourself how much of your clothes wasn't necessary to bring with you? Or could you have survived with less? Well, the answer is you can travel with less and yes, you can survive with fewer clothes too and I promise you, it'll be still too much.

When I started with backpacking I brought a 60l backpack with me, fully packed, and brought way too many clothes, shoes, and other unnecessary things with me. On my next trip, I said to myself, I won't pack that much and travel with less and still had too much to carry with. Finally, I decided to travel only with carry-on luggage. Kind of a challenge I thought and packing my backpack was. I need all kinds of medications, all my make-up products, toiletries (who can survive with only one litter bag of liquids?), and what about all my clothes and shoes?

The answer to all the questions is simple, if you need medication, there's a pharmacy somewhere, where you can buy almost everything whenever needed. Less makeup is better for your skin anyways and do you really need five lipsticks? And whenever you need something, there's always the opportunity to buy it (except for Alaska or Timbuktu).

Speaking of clothes, well, you will re-wear the same ones over and over again and luckily, nobody will realize that you're wearing the same outfit over again. Honestly, traveling with less is very easy and reasons against it are made up in our heads. Having less makes you even freer. To be honest, I only travel with carry-on and still think that I could have packed less.

The biggest reward for traveling with less is, that you do our environment a favor. You probably think that the extra kilo won't make any difference, since the airplane itself weighs much more. But keep in mind that the extra kilo will be transported over 1000km and every extra kilo is an extra kilo of carbon emissions. Plus, it's good for your wallet, saves your time (which is the most valuable thing), and is easier to carry around.

👉🏽 I listed down four easy steps on how to travel with less here.

4. Choose Sustainable Accommodations

Yes, in terms of accommodation, you can make the right choices for our environment too. How so? Well, there are some hotels, that support the environment by using fewer resources, sustainable products, and/or support locals by using products from farmers or artisans. Such places are often marked by a label. Keep an eye out for it and prioritize such places for your next stay.

One thing that I don’t get is staying in a large all-inclusive hotel. No judgment at all and I kinda get it. You need to wind down from your stressful life, don’t want to think about anything and I agree, it’s convenient. But why travel all the way to your desired destination if you’re just staying at your hotel anyways? I mean, you’ll miss all the tasty opportunities of restaurants, won’t see anything of the destination either and isn’t that the great part of traveling? Exploring other cultures and nature?

But to make a point in terms of sustainability and to answer the following question: Why are large hotels that offer an all-inclusive package not good for the environment?

First, large resorts have way too much space and mostly some empty rooms available. Unused space is just a waste of energy. Second, I don’t want to imagine how much food finds its way to the trash, just to offer enough variations and quantity for their guests.

5. Use Eco-Friendly Products

Sometimes the things that should protect us, are harmful to our environment. For example suncream. It's proven that sunscreen is threatening the health of coral reefs and causes coral bleaching. Due to this reason buying coral-safe sunscreen is a must for your next beach trip.

I've already mentioned it above, but avoiding plastic by using reusable items is one of the easiest things to do to contribute a part to a greener future. I'll list the things you could use again:

  • Tote bag for carrying around groceries

  • Re-usable water bottle

  • Cotton pads for removing your makeup or cleaning your skin

  • Containers for snacks

Another thing to do is to avoid buying plastic in general and prefer products that are made out of natural resources. I'll list down some inspiration for it:

  • Toothbrush made out of bamboo

  • Refill bottles made out of glass or metal

  • Razors made out of metal

  • Hairbrush made out of bamboo

Last but not least, what's eco-friendly, will be friendly to you too. So, instead of buying chemical products for your hair and skin, read more about natural products and their benefits. Here's a list of my favorites:

  • Using coconut oil for protecting your hair or as a body oil

  • A mix of oils (rosemary, castor, etc.) for hair growth and keeping the hair healthy

  • Vegan lip balm

  • Whipped cream for moisturizing the body

  • Self-made body scrub with coffee grounds

6. Avoid Animal Entertainment

Some popular things to do at a destination include animal entertainment, such as snorkeling with whale sharks in Mexico or the Philippines, riding on an elephant in Thailand, or holding a snake in India. Although some animals may be in their natural habitat and not locked up, they've been fed and trained to be not shy towards crowds of humans. Feeding animals means that they’re not independent anymore, forget how to look after themselves and the given food mainly contains lots of chemicals.

Snorkeling with whale sharks was only one example of animal entertainment. Please also do avoid the obvious ones, where the animals are held in cruel conditions and only to entertain people only. Keep in mind that most animals are shy and wouldn’t normally come that close to humans.

Instead, visit national parks and protected areas. In that way, you support, for example, the conservation of endangered animals.

7. Eat Less Meat

Eating meat is one of the most damageable things you can do, and as a former meat eater, I know how tasty a good steak is. I don’t judge you and understand when a strict vegetarian diet isn’t for you. It’s all about consciousness and quantity. Sometimes meat is not needed in a meal and surely not three times in one day. There are plenty of substitutes around and you won’t even taste a difference!

When meat is mixed into a dish, you can effortlessly change it with tofu or tempeh. For me, it doesn’t make any difference if there’s meat in my vegetable curry or stir-fry. Have you ever eaten a vegetarian chicken burger? I don’t taste any difference.

A big advantage during travels is, that food poisoning occurs less if you abstain from meat. Of course, your food choices will be limited, but that also means that you’re likely to try out something new.

Have you known, that that’s how I started my “vegetarian” career? I tried to avoid eating animal products way too often and now I barely eat them at all. And honestly, if I have the urge to eat a meaty dish, which happens rarely, I do so. Just be more conscious about your eating habits.

🥰 All the delicious dishes above did not contain any meat, although it does look like it.

8. Support Locals

In Europe buying exotic fruits and vegetables is associated with high CO2 emissions, which is why local products should be prioritized. The same goes for your destination. Research local and in-season products, and prefer to eat those. Or even simpler, buy your vegetables and fruits at a local market.

Another way is to eat local cuisine. Locals eat what their environment has to offer. Asia has tasty mangos, so why the need for eating an apple from the US? I know it’s hard to abstain from the desire to eat an authentic Italian pizza, and I have the desire too, but keep it balanced and be aware that the ingredients had a long way too. Also, by eating local cuisine you get to know the culture of the country even better.

9. Save Water and Energy

By using energy more consciously you can also do your part of travel sustainably. Sometimes the little things have a great impact. You can save energy by:

  • Turning off your AC, when it’s not needed or not set it to low.

  • Unplugging your electronic devices when fully charged or not needed. People and I sometimes catch myself doing so as well, leaving their devices charged the entire night. Instead, plan the charging times when you’re awake and turn off the devices when not needed. Do you already know that you won’t use the TV in your room? Unplug it as well. The standby mode is consuming energy as well.

  • Closing the curtains when possible. By doing that, you won’t need as much power from your AC to keep the room cool.

Did you know that less than 1% of water worldwide is not usable and therefore, lots of people don’t have unlimited access to it? Ways you can conserve water:

  • Turning off the tap while showering or brushing your teeth.

  • Renouncing room service by leaving the “Do not disturb” sign on the door. That way your room won’t be cleaned and they won't need to wash your towels or sheets. I mean, do you change your towels and sheets daily?

  • Choosing food that doesn’t need too much water to prepare. For instance, by preparing pasta or rice a huge amount of water is needed and, for example, grilled vegetables need none. Select your food choices wisely.

10. Prefer to Walk

My friends already know this little fun fact about me, but I’m obsessed with walking. I mean, there are so many advantages! You keep your body fit and healthy, you get to know the town better and see even hidden places, and last but not least it’s good for the environment too.

While I was in Canggu for example, I observed people who were choosing their scooter for only 100 meters over walking on their own feet. Yes, Canggu isn’t the walk-friendliest place in the world, but turning on and off your scooter just to grab something at a place that’s only walking distance apart? Doesn’t make any sense to me. Also, sitting in a taxi that is stuck in traffic just makes you frustrated, why not walk instead? People are choosing a taxi that is stuck in traffic for 1 hour over walking the route, which would probably take 30 minutes. Add that to my list of advantages: you save time as well, and that’s the most valuable thing because time can’t be returned.

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