From minding your carbon footprint, to familiarising yourselves with green practices, we give you a low-down on how you can become a more conscious traveller in 2020. By Bayar Jain
If you’re anything like us, chances are travelling gives you a high. Dreams of the world’s many countries to see, cultures to experience, mountains to conquer, or even forests to get lost in probably flash in front of your eyes; sending you to a state of blissful trance instantly. Beaches beckon every weekend, and camping tents are your second homes.
Unfortunately, though, the world isn’t able to keep up with our far-fetched dreams. Instead, it’s crumbling right under our feet, one flood at a time. As much as we might hate to admit it, a major reason for this red situation can be credited to us travellers. In fact, as of 2018, it was estimated that global tourism produces approximately 8% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time to take a green step forward and wake up to a better, sustainable future. In 2020, here are some conscious travel resolutions for you to try abiding.
I Will…Stay Home And Read!
Yes, it’s literally the antithesis of what us wanderlusts would want, but this is the first step towards becoming a conscious traveller. Before planning a vacation, try educating yourself with the local culture, the geography, and the environmental issues or practices of the place. Getting a better understanding of the region before visiting it gives you a clear idea of what the environmental challenges of the region are. For example, you wouldn’t want to take a long shower in a country facing droughts! Moreover, a conscious traveller needn’t just be aware of the carbon footprint, but also be socially conscious of traditions, cultures, and beliefs. Besides, being sensitive also paves way for more fun; being judgmental would only close doors.
I Will…Fly Direct And Fly Smart
As tempting as it is to book cheaper layover flights, taking off and landing airplanes is a major contributor of carbon emissions. Taking direct flights, however, reduces the overall impact by a large extent. Better still, choose flights that practise carbon offsetting—an environmental move taken by industries to compensate for the release of carbon dioxide taken as a result of their activities. Over the past few years, a few flights have started charging an environmental fee along with tickets. This fee, which passengers are not obligated to pay, is then used or donated to suitable, sustainable projects. Although not many Indian airlines have taken this green alternative yet, global airlines such as Qantas, The Emirates, Jetstar, British Airways are some of the few that have dabbled in the same.
I Will…Pack Light
If emissions during take off and landing weren’t enough, the weight of your luggage adds to it as well. To put it simply, the more the plane weighs, the more fuel it requires, in turn increasing the production of carbon emissions as well. Besides, it even curbs the need to lug around a massive suitcase!
I Will…Carry My Own Bag And Bottle
It’s no surprise that plastic bottles are a serious threat to our planet. At the same time, dying of dehydration is an equally pressing concern—more so while marvelling at world’s many wonders. While buying a bottle of water from the closest departmental store is an issue fix, it adds to the planet’s plastic waste. Solution? Carry your own reusable water bottle. In fact, if you’re a lover of cup o’ joes on the go, carrying your own flask is the best bet. Bringing along a coffee thermos can cut down on a massive amount of plastic and paper waste that would instead be created by grabbing your latte on the road. Moreover, when travelling, invest in a small, collapsible cloth bag to carry with you. This comes in handy when you’re roaming the streets, and trinkets catch your eye. Instead of relying on disposable plastic bags given out by most shops, you can simply stuff the goodies in your personal sack.
I Will…Support, Encourage, And Experience local
A major kick of travelling emerges from immersing in the local culture, especially food. By eating a city’s traditional dishes, you not only get to try different flavours, but you also take a step towards sustainability. Such foods rely on using produce habitable in the region’s natural climate instead of importing from other parts of the world or those that require artificial insecticides to grow; in turn giving each dish a fresh, delectable taste. A similar process goes into shopping at local markets for souvenirs native to the region. Buying local produce helps keep in empowering the community, and allows their economy to thrive as well. It also uses fewer resources in terms of transportation, packaging, and manufacturing.
I Will…Feel At Home Wherever I Go
A great resolution for any travel plans to feel at home wherever you are. This means that irrespective of where you choose to vacation, treat it as though you’re living in your own house. At home, you wouldn’t need your bed sheets to be changed regularly or your air conditioners to be running constantly. In fact, chances are you’ll even be extra cautious while disposing any waste. This same mindset of being careful should percolate when staying in hotels too.