Sustainable Summer Travel: An Introduction

No matter what age you are, summer is best spent taking it easy. Kicking back, chilling out (hopefully literally), and travelling. But as anyone who keeps tabs on environmental issues knows, everything comes with a footprint - including our summer travels.

Think about it: however we get places - whether it’s car, plane, bus, or whatever - needs energy, and then it ends up as emissions. And if you’re like me, when you get to your destination the first thing you want to do is eat, and then eat some more, and when you go out the next day eat even more. But food and food waste sadly have a massive ecological footprint (this is probably the most depressing point of this post.) And of course FOOD waste isn’t the only garbage issue we have to worry about - general waste is on the list too.

This is all pretty depressing, isn’t it? But since this is the ALDA Lifestyle Blog you know what’s coming next - tips on how to decrease our environmental footprint. We get it - vacation is a time to not worry about anything, including environmental responsibilities. But no worries, we’re gonna make this as simple as possible so you can protect the environment AND chill out during your vacation.

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Driving To be honest, if you’re driving there isn’t a TON you can do unless you have an electric car or the magical ability to fly or teleport somewhere (actually, wouldn’t teleportation require energy?). If anything, going by car produces fewer emissions than travelling by plane does.

Flying In terms of flying on an airplane though, there are SOME innovations. Greenopia has a list of sustainable flight companies, and Virgin Airlines tops the list, but Alaska Airlines, Air France, and British Airways are also up there.

Sorry bout the U.S. and Euro-centrism, but the different options for every different country could take up an entire post! A faster way to go about comparing flights is by using Glooby, a website that lets you compare not only prices but also how sustainable an airline is.

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Eat Local You’ve probably heard it before, but in general shopping local is better for the environment (and local economies) than, say, eating at chain restaurants and supermarkets. It’s the same when you’re traveling. A perk of this is that you get to experience a side of your destination that a lot of people miss - and honestly what tastes better than local cuisine you can’t REALLY get anywhere else? Check out the Eat Local app to find dope local eats no matter where you are.

Slow Food This is similar to eating local but not quite the same. This movement started in Italy in the mid-20th century as a response to fast food. The focus is on locally grown, environmentally sound, and fairly priced food that you can chow down on. This one is trickier because you can’t find it everywhere, but on your next vacation it’s worth googling if your destination has any slow food places to check out. Like the Eat Local app, Slow Flood Planet has your back as far as slow eating near you.

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Zero Waste As if too much waste wasn’t already a problem, it turns out tourism/travel leads to even MORE trash on the planet. Maybe you’re not a zero waster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some zero waste practices. A few simple adjustments here and there, like taking a reusable straw, utensils, or water bottle could cut down on how much garbage - plastic especially - will be generated on your next trip.

Take Advantage Of waste management systems that is. Again, this depends on where you’re going. Some destinations have more sustainable waste management than others, so looking for things like recycling might require squinting. Like, for a long time. It may come off as a bit of a hassle but it’s for a good cause!

Also (and this may go without saying) but try not to be a litterbug, okay? As condescending as it sounds! But litter is a problem when you’re a traveler apparently, so let’s try not to contribute to the problem (know it all PSA over, I promise.)

Bonus! Hotels

Okay, now that transit, food, and trash is covered, we still have that one thing that’s crucial when you’re traveling...where the hell are you gonna stay?

Know how I mentioned taking some zero waste stuff with you? Well, some hotels are even getting rid of some plastic for you. The Hilton is getting rid of plastic straws by the end of 2018, the Marriott is making some amenity bottles recyclable (in certain locations anyway), and InterContinental Hotels (the owners of Holiday Inn Express, thank you very much) is introducing bulk size amenities. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

I’m not gonna say again how sustainable hotels depends on where you’re going (okay so I just did…), but it really does. Some places known for being more sustainable (e.g. less energy intensive) include the Proximity Hotel in North Carolina, Hotel Punta Islita in Costa Rica, and the Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya.

You can always check out Green Hotelier for the rundown of the entire green hotel industry.

So my friends, it turns out that there are ways to protect the environment while you’re taking an adventure. Maybe you won’t green your entire trip, but you can take steps to reducing your footprint so you can #protectyourwild.

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By Darian Williams, ALDA's Blog and Digital Marketing Specialist Intern 

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