As responsible travelers, protecting the world we play in is of utmost importance. I know I’m on top of my recycling, composting and all-around greenie habits when I’m on my home turf, but it’s easy to get lost in the relaxation and freedom of a vacation and forget that everything we do while on the road has an effect on the world. So, here are 5 ways that you can help ensure that you continue those green habits you have at home while traveling the globe.
There are a bunch of different ways to green-ify your flight plan! The easiest? Pack light. The more weight the plane has to carry, the more fuel it uses and the more greenhouse gases (the kind that cause the planet’s temperature to rise) are emitted into the atmosphere. Do you really need that third pair of shoes, or those full size bottles of shampoo and conditioner? Trust me, when you’re carting that backpack around in 40 degree weather and sweating buckets, you’ll be a lot happier if it doesn’t weigh 50 lbs. And so will the environment!!! A couple other tips and tricks? Try and book the flight with the least amount of stop overs. Planes use the most fuel to take off and land, so the more direct the flight the less greenhouse gases being emitted. Last but not least? Plant a couple trees! Or at least pay someone else to do it. There are a ton of companies out there that will calculate your emissions based on your flight and then plant the required number of trees to ensure your flight is carbon neutral! Here at Free & Easy we plant one tree for every traveler through Community Forests International. So fly smart and save the planet.
KEEP THE BEACHES CLEAN
There’s nothing quite as beautiful as when white sand meets blue water, but the unfortunate truth is that more and more garbage is washing up on the shores of these incredible beaches due to the increasing levels of trash in the ocean. Don’t contribute! At the more populated beaches, there will be trash cans nearby, and if there aren’t you can always carry your trash back into town with you until you find a dumpster (or a recycling bin if they’re available). Taking on the “someone else will clean it up” attitude is dangerous, and the level of trash piling up is proof that it’s not true. Take care of your own garbage, or better yet – take a note from the Trash Hero organization that started on Koh Lipe in Thailand and help take care of other people’s as well! Trash Hero and Free & Easy Traveler host beach clean ups on almost all FnEZ trips (aka in some of the most beautiful places in the world). With some headphones in, sunscreen on and a cooler of ice cold beers awaiting you when the clean up is finished, picking up trash has never been so much fun.
SAY NO TO PLASTIC
Actively cleaning the beaches is a great way to leave a positive impact on the places you visit, but preventing the trash build up in the first place is important as well. Plastic water bottles are the number one contributor to trash build up on beaches around the world. SO PACK A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE! A lot of hostels will have free filtered water that can be used to fill up reusable water bottles before you head out for the day, and keeping a large jug in your room is never a bad idea either. If you buy 3 bottles of water per day on a 20-day trip, that’s 60 bottles added to the waste, and you’re only one traveler! These places see thousands of travelers come in and out per month and the amount of plastic thrown out (a lot of the time on the ground!) is staggering. That’s why on an FnEZ trip, you’ll be provided with free filtered water at many of the guesthouses we stay at, avoiding the need to purchase and dispose of plastic water bottles at all. With over 1,000 travelers exploring the world with Free & Easy annually, this initiative has the potential to prevent the use of over 100,000 plastic water bottles each year. Another good item to pack for your trip? One of those compressible, reusable shopping bags. They fold up small enough to throw in your purse or day bag but can save you from using hundreds of plastic bags. 7-Elevens and street stalls in Asia are notorious for giving you a plastic bag for every little purchase. Just say no!
This is one of the easiest (and most delicious!) things you can do to reduce your footprint when traveling. Purchase your meals, snacks and other products from local vendors—and use that reusable bag to carry your scrumptious loot! In general, local vendors will be carrying local products and making their food with local produce. The closer the food you eat to its source, the less greenhouse gases have been emitted from its transportation (did you know the average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 2,400 km to get there?!), and the less pesticides and preservatives were needed because the food is being consumed within a short time of being harvested. It may even have a higher nutrient value, as food that is grown and harvested locally is usually given more time to ripen. By buying from local vendors you’re also supporting the local economy instead of fuelling money into a large corporation; small businesses tend to take care of their own and are less likely to buy produce from farmers with questionable business practices. So dig into that fresh seafood ceviche in Limaor that amazing street corner pad thai in Bangkok and know that you’re doing your part!
We get it. Some of the places we travel to are a LOT warmer than home. When you spend all day sweating it out on the beach or dancing the night away in packed club, the only thing you want to do when you get back to your guesthouse is crank the A/C. Don’t do it! Keeping your A/C usage to a minimum not only saves a ton of energy (Mother Earth thanks you), but also helps you acclimatize to your local environment a lot faster. Ever pump the A/C and then wake up in the morning with the sniffles? That’s your body telling you that it’s having a hard time adjusting to these drastic changes in temperature. So, instead, grab a cold shower, get into bed wet, and aim the fan your way. You’ll feel cool and breezy in no time and be saving planet earth.
Want to learn more about how Free & Easy is leaving a positive impact on the world? Check out the Free & Easy Global Initiatives here.
These are some of the ways I stay green while globetrotting, but there are a ton of other ways out there. Got any stellar tips or tricks that you use on your vacay? Share them below! And book your dream trip already. We know you don’t want to be stuck at home twiddling your green thumbs this summer—it’s time for an adventure! www.freeandeasytraveler.com