Traveling and sustainability may sound like a juxtaposition, but with a little planning and some smart choices doing both is definitely within the realm of possibility. Before booking a trip, take into consideration how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay, and how you’ll get around. The environmentally conscious choice may not always be the obvious one and oftentimes it will take a bit more effort on you end. To make things a little easier, we’ve rounded up six tips for being an eco-friendly traveler — because there’s more to travel than simply scoring great surf.
Planes, trains, and automobiles are some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, with airplanes being the top offender. When traveling overseas, lighten the load by packing just the bare essentials — the lighter the plane the less it emits. Re-wear your clothes, rent a board at your destination, and leave your laptop and other gadgets at home. It might not seem like much, but every little bit counts.
Stay at Eco-Friendly Accommodations
With eco tourism on the rise, eco lodges and green hotels are popping up across the globe and are available at a number of popular travel destinations. While both focus on environmental responsibility and minimizing negative impact, eco lodges are typically found in more remote, natural environments where green hotels are often found in towns or cities. For example, The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica composts, uses environmentally friendly pesticides, uses solar panels to provide energy, provides all-natural bath products in guest rooms, offers bamboo straws, includes native plants in the landscaping, supports local projects that promote sustainable development, and participates in the “Plant a Tree” program to offset carbon emissions.
Minimize Plastic Waste
What’s the best part about traveling via plane? For many, it’s the complimentary beverages, pretzels or peanuts, and occasionally meals. It’s definitely fun to dine at 30,000 feet, but have you ever given much thought to the amount of plastic waste that is used in one flight alone? Beverages are poured from small single-use containers into small, single-use plastic cups. Every snack and drink comes with a paper napkin and every meal comes in a throwaway container and plastic cutlery. One option is to choose Hi Fly, a company that wet leases aircraft in Portugal and Malta. In December 2018, the company became the first plastic-free flight by replacing plastic containers and cutlery with bamboo and compostable alternatives. Hopefully more airlines will follow suit.
Until they do, flying with Hi Fly may not always be a realistic option but a simple solution is to bring your own reusable containers, cups, and silverware to not only use on the plane, but throughout the entire trip.
Choose a Sustainably Made Board
If you’re traveling locally, brining your own board is a good option but if you’re traveling overseas, renting is probably your best bet. Depending on your location, rental options may be limited but when possible, choose a sled with an ECOBOARD Project logo on it. A solid option is NSP’s line of CocoMat surfboards and stand-up paddleboards, all of which are Level 1 Verified ECOBOARD Project boards. There are an ever-growing number of sustainably made boards available, so do your research and ask around to find an eco-friendly board that is best suited to your needs.
Take Public Transportation
When traveling, a lot of people automatically rent a car as a means to get around — but you don’t have to. If you plan out your location ahead of time, you may be able to score a place where the water and food are all within walking distance. For the times when you want to go explore or visit somewhere that isn’t accessible by foot, try taking the local bus or train system. It’s cheap, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, and it’s running anyways, so you might as well hop on.
Choose a Sustainably Minded Destination
Choosing a destination based on how sustainable the country is definitely is a unique way of laying out your travel plans. But, it’s one that could greatly lessen your carbon footprint. According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, Malta, and Sweden are currently the most sustainable countries in the world, in that order. The EPI quantifies and numerically marks the environmental performance of a state’s policies and is a good marker to go by when selecting a travel destination. Next time you’re deciding where to go, do a quick Google search and try basing your decision on how environmentally friendly the location is.