The eco-friendly traveller: ensure that your itchy feet tread lightly

I don’t know whether it’s the first signs of spring in the air, or that we’ve recently come out of iso (and may soon have to re-quarantine), but every cell in my being is itching to travel! I’m obviously not alone of this, with caravan sales booming across the country, up in some states by as much as thirty percent.

With international travel off the cards until 2021, there has never been a better time to experience local gems in your own backyard. The closer your travel destination to your home, the greener your getaway will be, so there’s one reason to feel good about being a prisoner of your home state (gotta look for an upside in times like these). You might wish to visit areas ravaged by last summer’s bushfires, which will up your holiday’s feelgood factor and bring much needed relief to your regional neighbours #bookthemout.

It’s easy to be an eco-offender while holidaying, even if you’re virtually Greta at home – think convenient miniature versions of every personal care item imaginable, the temptation to amass pointless travel souvenirs (because, memories), burning through extra fuel, relying on packaged foods and takeaway more than usual and carefree luxuriating in the shower. Look to the following tips if you’d like to see more of the earth, without it costing the earth.


Pack smart

The heavier your luggage, the more fuel you’ll burn – this is true whether you travel by air or by car. But the earth conscious traveller must balance this fact against the need to reduce consumption and waste. Pack the bare minimum in terms of clothing but bring food and reusables from home.

Some of my absolute essentials include Unpaper Towels, for sticky hands and faces (simply wet slightly before use); Sinchies and Stasher pouches for travel snacks; Cheeki 1L drink bottles; the Ever Eco bamboo cutlery set; bamboo dinnerware instead of paper plates; washable tote bags for storing dirty clothes and a small bento box for packed lunches. If you’ll be staying somewhere with laundry facilities, continue to cloth nappy the kidlets and bring earth-friendly detergent from home.

There’s no need to do a whole grocery shop when you reach your destination – you probably won’t eat half of it, and you won’t want any extras to pack when you’re going home. Instead, bring food staples from home in recycled containers and hire a camping fridge if you’d like to bring premade meals and perishables.


Skip the minis

Travel miniatures are a single use crapfest. Pour your toiletries into small Stasher silicone pockets, and use a multi-purpose beauty bar, like this one from Shampoo with a Purpose, so you can travel lighter. If staying in a hotel, resist the urge to hoard as many tiny toiletries as you can. Yes, they’re adorable, but also abominable from a waste perspective. if they go untouched more often, hotel management will commission less of them.


Offset your travel

If you’ve got a trip coming up, why not go the extra mile at home to reduce carbon emissions? Make an extra reusable swap, BYO containers to the local bulk foods, incorporate meat-free meals into your diet, rug up rather than running the A/C, skip the drier and hang your clothes on a clothes horse ... You get the drift. Further lighten your travel footprint by staying with carbon neutral holiday parks and hotels. 


Choose ecotourism

Check out the website of Ecotourism Australia for a list of providers in your chosen destination, who’ve been eco- or nature-certified – the former means that they’ve demonstrated a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices, and the latter means that they leave minimal impact on the environment. I adore travelling to unspoilt locations, without mains power or water, and living as nature intended.  


Retain your eco ethos

Don’t send your morals packing while on holiday. Yes, it’s tempting to opt for the freshly laundered towels and soak in that king-sized hotel spa but try not to overindulge. A little luxury is fine, but aim to minimise your impact in the same way that you do at home – switch off the lights, aircon and television when not in use, reuse towels, refuse single-use plastics and avoid bottled water (fill a portable tank with filtered water or buy a large cask, rather than bottles). And don’t forget to recycle! Ask your tourism provider where you can bin recyclables and bring soft plastics home with you if you can’t find a recycling station for them.

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