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Sustainable Travel: How to Reduce Your Impact While Seeing the World

As the world opens up again, we're excited to explore new horizons and connect with fascinating cultures. But let's not forget our impact on the planet.

Travel with boat

Our travels can result in waste, carbon emissions, and other environmental harm. While the tourism industry is slowly catching up to sustainability, we can help by making even more conscious choices. Let's continue to explore the world while supporting the planet and local communities.

Why sustainable travel is so important

Safeguarding the destinations we visit is crucial for preserving biodiversity and improving the lives of local communities.

The tourism industry, notorious for generating extensive waste, overusing water, and causing biodiversity loss, requires more conscious effort from industry practitioners and travelers alike.

As responsible travelers, it's our duty to reduce our impact and opt for sustainable travel practices. According to The World Counts, tourism contributes to more than 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 90% of this. By 2030, a 25% increase in CO2 emissions from tourism compared to 2016 is expected.

Please take nothing but pictures leave nothing but footprints

Image by on Unsplash

Tourism since the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in travel but also had some positive environmental impacts, including reduced carbon emissions, waste reduction and wildlife recovery (look how quickly nature returned to Venice during the pandemic). We are now facing a reversal in these positive impacts as travel resumes.

In its 2022 Sustainable Travel Report, said: "Sustainable travel is no longer the ambition of the few but of the many."

While responsible travel is slowly becoming the norm, it can be complex for tourism businesses to meet sustainability requirements, however, progress is being made.

As travellers, we also have a big role in sustainable tourism. With new and exciting technologies on the horizon, finding resources to make our adventures kinder to the planet is becoming easier. The countries we travel to, such as Indonesia, also highlight shifts in the type of tourists they seek to attract and are moving towards sustainable tourism.


Image Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

2023 Trends in the travel industry

The tourism industry is changing rapidly thanks to digital technologies. Sustainability is a focus for travelers this year. New tools and services allow travelers to have more personalized and eco-friendly experiences.

To keep up with the latest developments in the industry, resources like FTE and Skift offer great insights.

Here are just some of the emerging sustainable travel trends in 2023:

  • Increased application of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to planning and making customized travel suggestions.

  • Greater use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in mobile apps and websites for booking and managing trips seamlessly.

  • Blockchain technology is increasingly being used for safe and open travel transactions, including reservations, payments, and identity verification.

  • Real-time data collecting and analysis to enhance consumer experiences and lessen environmental impact.

  • Increasing desire for digital detox and technology-free vacation experiences.

Travel with a van

Image by Wix

Travel with a Positive Purpose: 10 Practical Steps to Sustainable Holiday Planning

Here are just some of the ways we can make our travels kinder to the planet:

1. Choose your destination wisely: Consider eco-friendly destinations that prioritize sustainability. Specialist travel companies such as Responsible Travel provide holiday destinations and services tailored to those seeking to further sustainability as they travel.

2. Choose sustainable accommodation: Check online options for eco-friendly hotels, resorts, and lodges that use only renewable energy sources, recycle waste, conserve water, and support their local communities. Staying at eco-friendly holiday rentals or camping sites are also a great option. Here are just a few examples.

3. Reduce your carbon footprint when travelling: opt for public transport, cycling, or walking instead of renting a car. Many airlines also offer more sustainable practices or offset carbon emissions. Choose shorter flights or train rides instead of long-haul flights.

4. Reduce waste: Just as you would at home, pack your reusables such as refillable water bottles, reusable shopping bags, food containers, sustainable toiletries, and reusable sanitary products. Avoid single-use plastic items such as straws, plastic bags, and cutlery. When abroad, seek out restaurants that promote their sustainable practices, such as composting, recycling, and reducing food waste.

5. Support local businesses: Look for locally-owned businesses that promote sustainable practices, support the local economy, and provide an authentic travel experience. Choose restaurants that use local ingredients, buy souvenirs made by local artisans, and participate in locally-led tours.

6. Use coral reef-friendly Sunscreen: Sunscreen can harm coral reefs due to chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are toxic to marine life, even at low concentrations. These chemicals are washed off into the water, causing damage to coral reefs and making them more susceptible to bleaching, disease, and death. Here are some reef-safe sunscreen options.

7. Choose sustainable activities: Look for sustainable tours and activities; find out if any beach clean-ups are happening during your stay, for example.

8. Minimize energy usage: just as you would at home, be mindful of your energy consumption by turning off lights, air conditioning, etc, when not in use. Unplug chargers and electronic devices if you're not using them.

9. Share your sustainable practices: Spread awareness about sustainable travel and encourage others to follow. Share your experiences on social media and review platforms; recommend sustainable accommodations, restaurants, and activities with fellow travellers.

10. Respect local cultures and traditions: Embrace the customs and traditions of the local community and be respectful. Follow their dress codes, and ask for permission before taking photos. Avoid any activities which may involve animal exploitation.

Refill your reusable water bottle

Image by Wix

Travelling responsibly is an important way for us to protect the earth. We can all achieve sustainable travel if we do it in an environmentally responsible way and remain respectful of regional communities and cultures.

Our collective, thoughtful decisions and tiny actions can have a significant impact. Join us in making a push for sustainable travel.

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Reach out to us to learn more about how GreenPush can help empower your employees with knowledge, resources and support to encourage sustainable behaviours in every part of your business.

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