Staying green is a lifestyle change that is necessary for the long-term enjoyment of resources. It is important to be eco-friendly, or environmentally friendly.
Most tourists are guilty of polluting beaches, caves or even hilltops whenever they visit. A year or two ago, a travel blogger bemoaned her first experience at Awhum Cave and Falls being marred by the cluster of plastic bottles and leftover food packs at the venue. Also, in June Thailand announced it was shutting down a tourist destination (Maya Bay) for four months so the country could mop up the plastics left behind by tourists and fixed damaged parts of the Ko Phi Phi island and its coral reef.
We need to clean up after ourselves or make the best use of whatever resources we come across when we travel. Otherwise, we could end up ruining the experience for others who come afterwards. The only thing we should leave behind in the sands of time of our travels is our footprints, not carbon emissions or non-biodegradable plastics.
So here are 10 ways to stay green during a vacation:
Reduce energy consumption
- “Don’t waste water” was a popular slogan from the days of Captain Planet cartoon and it still applies to when you go on vacation. On vacations, spend shorter times in the bathroom taking shorter showers and turn off the tap whenever you aren’t using it. If there is a dripping tap/shower head, get a bowl or bucket to accumulate the water and use it.
- Ditch your car and move around on foot, it’s a cheaper way to explore and experience a city. You can park your car and try walking the resort where you are. If you can use a trolley, skateboard, bicycle, cable car, etc., use it rather than a car. Some locations might require section hiking but if you can hike the entire way, then try it. You can also choose hotels with walking distance to other tour locations; that way your need for a car is reduced.
- When leaving the hotel, switch off the lights and unplug the electronics in your room because the appliances can still draw power when they are off. When charging, unplug your phone once the battery is full. Put your devices in power saving mode if you are out on a tour and you want them on even though you aren’t using them.
- Use hotels and transport services that produce the least amount of carbon emissions. Travelling by Train requires leaves a smaller carbon footprint than travelling by air or road. If you can rent hybrid cars that use both petroleum products and other sources of energy like solar energy, water or electricity when you are abroad for a vacation, use that instead. It will reduce your gasoline dependency.
Use recyclable products
- Look out for the recycling symbol on products your purchase or materials you use. Stick to products that produce less waste. An example would be to patronise fruit sellers at the local market than buying the same fruits from a supermarket where it is kept in a plastic casing and then packed in nylon bags after purchase.
- Carry a recyclable water can/bottle with you rather than spending lots of money on purchasing plastic bottled waters. You can fill your metal canteen or recyclable bottle up when necessary; it’ll cut down your expense profile and eliminate the number of plastic bottles left in your wake. Use recyclable shopping bags rather than nylon bags for your shopping or to carry stuff around.
- Book your flights with airlines that have recycle policies. Some airlines accept electronic tickets and documents, using them will reduce the amount of paper trail waste created in the long run. The recycle policies include how they recycle waste created by serving meals on planes.
- Choosing a ‘Staycation’ rather than a vacation could be an environmentally friendly choice. Also, a ‘Daycation’ close to home also reduces the carbon footprint on the environment caused by the cost of travelling. The same goes for engaging in nature-based activities when you do travel far from home.
- Book Hotels with recycle policies but if you can’t find one, then practice eco-friendly habits. For instance, a hotel that recycles would mean you may need to sort out your trash accordingly not lumping food leftovers with plastic bottles and nylon bags.
- Reuse your towels and bedsheets. Only ask for clean sheets if the sheets are stained or dirty. If you are staying for a week, a change of sheet twice a week would do just fine. Carry your own toiletries with you and keep the packaged ones from the hotel for the latter part of your trip. Some hotels outside Nigeria have a policy of replacing toiletries daily, by keeping unused package toiletry, you can help reduce the number of wasted items from the hotel. If you are worried that removing the toiletries daily will create the wrong impression, you can call the front desk and let them know you will notify them when you need a change of toiletries.
Your exiting the hotel, resort or tour destination shouldn’t be a nightmare for the clean-up staff. Pick up after yourself, dispose of trash properly, donate to botanical gardens and conservation centres for their upkeep. Your vacation shouldn’t make you complacent, seek to improve any place you go, leave it better than when you met it.
Ann Esievoadje is a freelance writer who is passionate about encouraging a reading culture and personal development. She has authored two books, The Quilt (fiction) and Being Mummy and Me (non-fiction). She manages Pulchra Publishing which offers a content creation/editing, transcription, different forms of writing (including Ghostwriting) service and her blog, Life Love and Anything Goes at annesievoadje.blogspot.com.ng. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org