Snorkelling underwater

Green travel, ecotourism, ethical travel, sustainable travel… what’s in a name? 

No matter what you call it, travelling in a way that is eco-friendly is no longer a suggestion. It’s a mandate. We’ve talked about the  importance of building up your ethical travel savvy in earlier articles. But if you’re still a bit intimidated or confused about how to get started and why it matters, use these simple guidelines. In no time, you’ll learn how to care for the environment, protect wildlife, and sustain local cultures as an eco-friendly traveller. 

Unplug appliances at home

Being an eco-friendly traveller starts before your trip begins. When you’re departing the house for the airport, make sure you switch off all your power points for unnecessary appliances and turn off all light switches.

Australian power point

Pack your own water bottle and shopping bag

Australia has made strides with its campaign against single-use plastics. Don’t let this good behaviour slip if you’re overseas! Bring your own reusable water bottle to refill throughout your trip. And if you’re going anywhere with a market or plan on grocery shopping to cook your own meals, bring your own reusable shopping bag. 

Traveller with water bottle

Lighten the load

You may not realise that your extra checked bag makes an impact on your plane’s carbon emissions. But it’s simple maths: if the plane weighs less, it burns less fuel. Consider checking one bag less and lightening your carry-on load by omitting clothes that aren’t multipurpose, too many “just in case” outfits, or heavy and bulky items that weigh more than they’re worth.

Women with one pink suitcase

Live like a local with public transportation

In the same vein of lightening the load on a plane, using shared transportation eliminates the number of vehicles on the road, which ultimately lessens the greenhouse gas emissions from cars. It even eliminates the amount of traffic on the road, which leads to fewer vehicles emitting those gasses for longer. Not to mention, using public transportation is one key way to immerse yourself into a new destination! 

Public transportation

Use reef safe sunscreen

Unfortunately, many of the damaging effects that have been done to reef systems and other marine life can’t be reversed. But we can prevent further damage by being responsible with sunscreen. And in fact, some destinations - including the entire state of Hawaii - have begun to ban the use of non-reef safe sunscreens.

When it comes to shopping for a reef safe sunscreen, look past the label and go straight to the ingredients. Avoid any sunscreen with any of these four ingredients: oxybenzone, petrolatum or mineral oil, titanium dioxide, and octinoxate. These ingredients are known for coral bleaching and harming aquatic life. Instead, opt for a sunscreen with zinc (own those smears of white cream!) to be sure you’re playing it safe. 

Sunscreen with a heart

Research your excursions and outings 

There are a number of ways you can make sure you choose an eco-friendly excursion during your holiday. Here’s one case: if you go with a tour group, choose a company with a mission to give back to the community you’re touring. Many companies work with organisations on the ground to boost the local economy or ensure that they’re staying respectful of the local culture. 

In another case, if you want to do an animal encounter as a special outing, choose a conservation or rehabilitation centre where you know the welfare of the animals is of the utmost importance. You might not be able to cuddle the creatures or feed your new friends, but you’ll know that they’re safe. Similarly, you could choose a method of seeing the animals in their natural habitat. Think about it this way: an animal should act like itself. If it’s performing, it’s not natural. 

Girl with binoculars

Eat and shop local 

Shopping local for handicrafts or clothes is an investment in your host destination. Your money goes to the sustainability of the culture and the local merchants themselves. And when you eat (or drink) local, you’re giving back to the farmers, growers, and bakers in the same way. Plus, you’re reducing the "food mileage,” which boils down to not using plastic to wrap food or increasing gas emissions all necessary to ship it elsewhere. 

Shopper at local market

So tell us… which of these tips surprised you? Use #7travel on your favourite social medium to let us know!