“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert
Sustainability has become a topic of increasing interest over the past few decades. While most discussions surrounding sustainable practices are focused on what should be done at home, it is crucial that your eco-mindedness be carried with you no matter where you go. Next time you are planning your travels, ask yourself these five questions in order to make sure that your trip is infused with sustainability and eco-consciousness. If you will be traveling with No Desk Project in the future, you will soon come to discover the importance of sustainability in our programs through our adherence to the list below.
1. WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
While it is possible to hold environmentally friendly practices no matter where you are, it is undeniable that your destination plays a large role in how sustainable your travel can be. Ideally, it is best to choose to visit countries that have eco-friendly policies — such as Costa Rica. According to a 2017 article published by Science Alert, 99.62% of Costa Rica’s energy is derived from renewable resources. With additional environmental initiatives in place to move towards a green economy, Costa Rica is an excellent example of how a travel destination can not only facilitate sustainable practices, but may even inspire them.
It is also worth noting that it may be wise to avoid certain countries if going there would exhaust limited resources. Cape Town, for example, has been facing a severe water crisis; therefore, visiting the region could potentially be damaging for both the environment and its inhabitants.
2. WHERE ARE YOU STAYING?
Once you have chosen what country you plan to visit, it is time to investigate potential accommodation options. There are a plethora of options around the world that are suited for travelers who are eco-minded, and many do not require you to sacrifice quality for sustainability. If you are interested in budget friendly accommodations, Hosteling International has a blog post dedicated to their eco hostels around the world. It is also worth noting that independently owned hostels, such as EcoMama in Amsterdam, should not be overlooked.
If you are interested in hotels, check out Green Hotelier, an organization created by International Tourism Partnerships, which aims to inform the public about sustainable hotels around the world. If you are interested in Airbnb and want to learn more about their sustainability stance, check out their report on How Airbnb is Advancing Sustainable Tourism.
3. HOW ARE YOU GETTING AROUND?
There is nothing quite like exploring an unfamiliar space. Fortunately, there are several ways to explore that are eco-friendly, and, as an added bonus, many of them will actually prompt you to have a more authentic experience in your destination of choice. Walking is undoubtedly the most eco-friendly option and it allows you the opportunity to engage with whatever you find interesting at your own pace. When walking isn’t possible, embracing public transportation is a great option — it can even shed a light on how locals move through their daily life.
4. HOW MUCH WASTE ARE YOU PRODUCING?
It is essential that you consider all the waste you are producing while traveling. Make sure that you are mindful of your resource usage, food waste and trash creation. Minimize resource usage through small, consistent and simple practices — such as turning off the water or electricity when not in use. When buying food or eating out, make sure you only purchase what you will consume. If possible, bring along your reusables, like your favorite reusable bag for groceries, from home to minimize the amount of trash that you create at your destination.
5. WHERE ARE YOU SPENDING YOUR MONEY?
Where you choose to spend your money makes a difference. When traveling, try to spend your money on environmentally friendly products and experiences whenever possible. This can mean anything from choosing to buy produce that isn’t packaged in plastic to buying souvenirs that are eco-friendly.
Choosing to travel sustainably can have a profound impact on the communities you choose to visit. If you utilize our Ethical Travel Tips in combination with these considerations, your experience will not only prompt you to experience a small piece of local life, it can also help the growth of local commerce while causing minimal harm to the environment.