What is sustainable travel? There are different explanations but to me, it means responsible tourism by reducing harm to the planet and people when we travel. I have been traveling solo frequently for many years ago and to be honest (Practicing Satya here - My daily Yoga Sutras Shower), I felt guilty when I found out how much I have contributed to the increase of global warming or climate change. Hence, I started to pay more attention to the way I travel and this is mainly to share what I have summarized according to my personal experience.
5 Simple Acts To Remember:
•  Pay attention to the estimated carbon emissions
Carbon footprint refers to the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) that we cause from human activities. Consider walking, cycling, or taking a train for the lowest footprint. If it is unavoidable to fly, look into an airline that puts an effort into sustainability. When we Google searched the flights available, instead of choosing the cheapest (Which the majority would do), look into the total CO2 emissions as well. Reducing the number of layovers would help too!
•  Travel light! Avoid check-in baggage
This is not an easy thing to do for a family vacation especially when you have kids. But it is still doable. It also depends on what type of traveler you are. Some of the travellers wanted to buy souvenirs or goods that are not available in the place they live hence having a check-in baggage is necessary for them to pack all the items they bought. But for me, traveling is more an experience of learning and self-exploration. Therefore, it is easier for me to adopt this practice.
If all airplanes carried 20 kg of checked baggage by each passenger, 14.51 million tons of CO2 emissions would be from checked baggage. This is 0.30% of the global CO2 emissions of 34.34 billion tons in 2019. Edokagura, 2023.
•  Pick the accommodation that has a good sustainable rating
My personal preference is the sharing economy business - Airbnb. But when I am traveling alone, I would use booking.com and they have indicated the sustainable rating for the listed hotels. I am truly glad to see a recycling bin inside the room which shows clear evidence on their sustainability certification badge to businesses.
•  Reduce waste and recycle as much as possible
Bring your tumble, reusable cutlery and bag! No matter where you are, it is good to have a consistent practice to reduce the usage of single-use plastic cutlery and bags. I am quite surprised this time in Japan where I hardly see trash or recycling bins along the street. If you are in a similar situation, remember to carry the trash with you until you spot a bin!
•  Support the locals & look for Vegan or Plant-based options
It is always great to support local small businesses or social enterprises if you want to buy some souvenirs or any cultural experiences. I would also consider the businesses that are ethically operated and support animal welfare. For food consumption, why not consider a Vegan or plant-based diet? They are not just being respectful or non-harming the animals but it is an effort to reduce the CO2 as well.
People who follow a plant-based diet account for 75 percent less in greenhouse gas emissions than those who eat more than 3.5 ounces of meat a day, The New York Times, 2023
However, I always respect all preferences and as I emphasize, what matters the most is a balance point. So, if you can’t commit to a full-time vegan or non-meat diet plan, just try to reduce or look for organic with an ethical operating option! Every little step helps.
Last but not least, offset your carbon by planting more trees or donating to charities that focus on climate change impact. "To summarise the various studies, it can be concluded that annual CO2 offsetting ranges from 21.77 kg CO2/tree to 31.5 kg CO2/tree. This means that one tonne of CO2 can be offset by 31 to 46 trees." Hence, do your math and contribute what you can! If you are looking for charities to offset your carbon footprint, my current suggestion would be the One-Tree-Planted Organization with a very simple formula of USD1 = 1 Tree Planting. Feel free to provide your suggestions too by commenting on this post.