Did you know that traveling can be bad for the environment? With air travel more affordable and more accessible than ever comes a double-edged sword. While foreign lands are now within reach by plane, fossil fuel emissions are increasing, and air pollution is getting worse.
Travel and tourism are most definitely environmental problems that aren’t fake news. What can we do about it?
Travel and Environmental Statistics
It’s estimated that global travel accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The main culprits are planes, trains, and automobiles that all run on fossil fuel to get us to our final destinations. With the tourism industry projected to continue growing at a 4% annual rate, this is alarming.
One study determined that average passenger airplane uses five gallons of fuel per mile, often flying thousands of miles at a time. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that 44,000 airplanes take off daily in their control area alone, with 5,000 planes in the sky at any given time. There are nearly 20,000 airports just in the United States alone, and almost 3 million passengers board and de-board in the U.S. each day.
Add road travel to the equation, with 272 million+ cars in America, in addition to cruise ships and railways, and there’s a huge environmental impact.
Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
If you’re looking to make your travel more environmentally-friendly and become a better friend to the earth, here are a few tips.
1) Don’t overpack
No matter which transportation method you’re using, the weight of your luggage matters. The heavier your bags are, the more fuel the plane, car, train, or boat will require to transport it. Many airlines charge over-weight baggage fees for this reason. Pack as light as you can.
2) Be conscious of your actions
The same way you turn the lights and TV off when you leave your house, take the same measures when staying at a hotel. Don’t waste energy when you’re away just because it’s not your home. Additionally, don’t request new towels every day if you don’t need them and carry a reusable water bottle with you.
The same eco-friendly practices you use at home are applicable on vacation, too.
3) Eat locally-sourced food
Not only will this improve your experience by getting to enjoy the best regional cuisine, but eating locally-sourced food saves on fossil fuel that’s used to transport food to supermarkets and restaurants. Even better, eating organic cuts down on your consumption of pesticides, which contaminate the soil and waterways.
4) Choosing Transportation
If you’ve flown, once you reach your destination, choose the most eco-friendly transportation option for the remainder of your trip. Or you’re visiting a major city, you may not need a vehicle at all, as walking is often feasible, and many areas have bike-share programs.
If you do need transportation, use public transit whenever possible. Make renting a car your last option, and if you must rent one, consider getting a hybrid or electric vehicle.
5) Plan an Eco-Trip
Eco-trips have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering travelers a way to see the world while also helping the environment. Consider a trip to help re-plant forests or bring sustainable resources to underprivileged areas. Some agencies can help you plan the right trip, that offer environmentally-friendly lodging, meal plans, and transport.