Welcome back everyone, happy Sunday! If you haven’t already, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or matcha, or whatever get’s you jiving. Sit down and enjoy your morning read. Today I want to stay on the topic of environmental sustainability. Last week we talked about Utrecht, an eco- friendly destination. This week let’s explore small gestures we can make on any trip to help our environment.
By the way, I am writing to you from our brand new work desk, it is very exciting and I just wanted to share that. We also have a spinning, reclining chair!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, hit the like button and subscribe to join the community. Lot’s of Love, Elle 🙂
1. Reduce & Re-use
Remember, recycling is not our answer. It is our last resort. It certainly has its disadvantages- from high costs that make it inaccessible for many countries, a great deal of what we think will be recycled is not, we don’t have the capacity to recycle all we use, high pollution and energy consumption in the process.
Aside all of that, the thing I find scariest is the risk of it being improperly handled and chemical toxins seeping into our environment or in the future product. Here is a story for you all; 27 years ago, in Taiwan, 1700 buildings were built with a recycled steel. It was later found that the steel had accidentally been contaminated with Cobalt-60, making them radioactive, however some people had been living in those apartments at least 9 years, some as long as 22 years.
So how can we do better? Well, reduce and reuse. Easy switches you can make in your life and travels are; reusable water bottles, beeswax wraps, reusable make up pads, mooncups and fabric sanitary towels, shopping bags, reusable coffee cups, bamboo cutlery. Think about anything disposable you use in life- there is probably a reusable alternative.
What if you are travelling somewhere without clean tap water? We had this problem in China. Whilst most hostels will have filtered water facilities, some of the budget ones do not, we stayed in only a couple that had cold water for drinking. Lots of locals drink hot tea so you will probably have access to hot water you can fill your water bottle with.
If you feel like you need it cold, buy the largest bottle you can find in the supermarket and then refill yours with that. Alternatively, be more modern than I have managed and buy some water treatment things.. Harry had a life straw when we went to Asia so he actually could use it to drink the tap water. Invest in something like this and you will be far ahead of me.
An easy thing to consider.. you are probably all already doing this, if not.. why aren’t you? Really? Paper – Don’t print out tickets or paperwork unless you need to. Save the paper and use your phone.
Try and refuse plastic straws in cafes and bars. I have struggled with this on my travels at times, in particularly in China where there is unnecessary plastic everywhere, it is normal there and most people didn’t understand why I tried to say no to the straws. It sometimes led to long awkward and failed attempts of trying to communicate with various apps, then me giving up and using straws. The thought counts for something though right?
2. Check your skincare!
People are becoming more aware of the affects sunscreen has in coral reefs. Chemicals, such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxite, in your sunscreen can do mass amounts of damage. It bleaches the coral, reduces its fertility and even kills it. This destroys vital marine Eco-systems.
If you haven’t already, switch your sunscreen to one with the ‘coral friendly’ labe. Sadly, those chemicals are found in a vast majority of other products. Ranging from lip balm to body wash to moisturiser to foundation. Basically anything you put on your skin, could be harming the environment.
How can you help? Check your products! Minimise the amount of stuff you put on your body, make sure what you do use is natural ingredients. If not for the environment, then do it for you. All those chemicals you are putting onto your skin is absorbed easily to your blood stream. Octinoxate has been found in urine and even breast milk!
Switching to natural skincare is such an easy step to having a better impact on our environment.
3. Put your money where your mouth is
Eat, sleep and shop ethically. Stay at hotels that talk about global warming and are actively working to reduce their impact. Monte Belvedere, Lisbon, was a great example of this. They have separated recycling bins in rooms. they had a towel system where if you want a fresh one, you leave yours on the floor.
They have small plaques of information explaining to guests how they can reduce their energy consumption. I work at a five star hotel, I am always astonished and disappointed by how our guests leave all the lights and the air con on when they leave the room for the day!
Eat at restaurants that don’t use plastic straws, or ones that source organic, local food. Shop locally and from reputable businesses. The more we support these businesses the more likely others will follow.
4. Hold businesses accountable
If you’re looking for hotel to stay at why don’t you send them an email to ask what steps they are taking to become more environmentally sustainable? Or maybe you are already there, ask the receptionist what the hotel does for the environment, you may see them awkwardly struggle for an answer.
I have been the waitress and the receptionist in that position, I scrambled uncomfortably to find an answer that doesn’t make the company sound awful and afterwards I tell my manager. If more guests asked us that question, the big bosses would see that there is a demand for sustainable choices and they would start working towards that goal. Sadly as long as businesses can get away with making money unsustainable ways, they will.
Do you really think meat-loving chefs make a plant based menu because they enjoy cooking that stuff? No they make it to maximise profit and cater for the growing vegan population. Remember your power as a consumer.
5. Donate to/Volunteer for local conservation charities
When in Cat Ba, help the Cat Ba Langurs. When in the Amazon, donate to a tree planting initiative. When in Thailand volunteer at an ethical elephant sanctuary. DO NOT ride the elephants- in fact the less contact you have with the elephant the better (tourists shouldn’t even be bathing them).
Volunteer but do your research, don’t contribute to voluntourism because you will only be doing harm in that case. If in doubt, just donate and go on a regular holiday.
6. Switch your search engine
Travel takes a lot of research- finding hotels and experiences, figuring out what the best thing to do in a city, blogging, contacting home. What if you could help raise money for tree planting initiatives around the globe just by doing those things?
Ecosia is a growing search engine that uses their products to plant trees. So far, as I am writing this, Ecosia users have paid for 96,862,850 trees and that number keeps rising.
So ditch google, set your default engine to Ecosia on all of your devises. So far, with just the browsing on my laptop, I have paid for 2,432 trees.
Thank you for reading!
Do you have any more tips for how we can all travel more thoughtfully? Let us know in the comments below!
Have you read my introduction post to how we can travel more sustainably? It talks about our transportation options. Check it out here.
Can we grow to travel more sustainably?
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