Recently, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change discussed taking action to deal with the looming climate crisis. As a result, industries across the board are slowly taking note of the situation and adopting more sustainable policies.
One of the most significant factors behind the climate change crisis is the unmitigated consumption of fossil fuels. But interestingly, it is more than just big businesses that need to implement changes in fossil fuel consumption. The travel and vacation industry is also to blame for a huge percentage of carbon-emitting fossil fuel consumption. In fact, in 2021, a fact sheet released by the White House claimed that at least 11% of carbon emissions in the US come from air travel. And we, as individual travelers, can do something to change that.
By becoming responsible tourists and adopting sustainable practices, we can reduce our carbon footprint and leave the least possible negative impact on our destination’s environment.
What Is Sustainable Tourism
A lot of us are wanderers by nature. And caring about the environment shouldn’t keep us from exploring our beautiful planet. This is where sustainable tourism comes in. By being aware of our actions and the responsibilities we hold as travelers, we can lessen the economic, cultural, and environmental impact we often leave on our destinations.
This would involve supporting local communities as much as possible, choosing eco-friendly accommodations, eating local, and generally traveling in a way that leaves less of a carbon footprint.
How To Travel Sustainably
Being a sustainable traveler doesn’t involve much of a sacrifice — financial or otherwise. Sustainable and responsible tourism can often improve your overall experience during your trip. Here are some ways you can make your traveling habits more sustainable:
Use Public Transportation
While it is easy to succumb to the urge to rent a car or just hail Ubers and cabs at your destination, public transportation is the sustainable and cheaper alternative. This will reduce the money you spend on local transport and let you experience and interact with the local culture better.
You will also see more of your destination, including places untouched by tourists but frequented by locals.
Rent Electric Vehicles
If you prefer to rent a vehicle anyway, try and opt for a bicycle or electric car/scooter. This will significantly reduce your carbon footprint while offering the perks of renting a vehicle, including privacy and ease of access.
Travel in Groups
Traveling in groups may not always be ideal. But try and travel in groups whenever possible. This has several benefits. Opt to share rooms and transportation. You can significantly reduce your expenditures while leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
There will be less chance of food going to waste, too, while also making for a fun experience.
Adopt The Ways of The Slow Traveler
It is normal to want to experience everything and go everywhere when visiting a new destination. But rushing from one place to the other can significantly increase your carbon footprint, especially if you rent personal vehicles to save time. You can never fully experience where you are because you are always hurrying to the next spot. Instead of choosing such an exhausting way of travel, why not experience slow travel?
Slow traveling involves being mindful of where you are to fully experience its beauty. You don’t travel with a hectic schedule in your head and aren’t rushing from one spot to another. Instead, you take the time to explore and slowly take in your surroundings.
Planning ahead can not only save you money on accommodations and other bookings, but it can also reduce your overall ecological impact. Planning how you will travel around and what you will do and eat will mean less running around and hailing cabs, decreasing your overall carbon footprint.
Consider The Impact of Your Actions
Small actions you do can have a significant impact. For example, something as simple as carrying your own water bottle can mean buying fewer plastic water bottles. Eating local can benefit the local community while also letting you experience local cuisine and reducing your overall expenditure. Avoiding activities that exploit animals can help stop such activities in the long run.
Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.