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Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

Hi everyone! Here is the second part to my guide on "how to travel in an eco-friendly way": Link!

In the first part, I mentioned 7 important points, and in this one I'm going to cover the other 8.

I hope that it will be useful and that you learn lots of things!

Happy reading!

Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

8. Taking your own sustainable products with you when travelling

Whether you're on holiday or at home living your everyday life, I think it's time that we take some initiative to turn towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

I therefore strongly recommend preparing yourself before setting off and always keeping the following with you:

  • A reusable flask to replace bottled water (and if you go to a country where the water is not drinkable, you could invest in a flask with a filter. I tried it out during my trip to Nepal, and I approve!)

Think about choosing a 'BPA' free flask which you can refill again and again.

For that matter, a number of international airports have free water fountains, which saves you a lot of money and from wasting plastic bottles.

  • soap and shampoo in form of a solid bar...
  • If you really love straws, you can take a bamboo one with your thermal flask and ask the bar to fill your cup.
  • Always have reusable bags on you, of different sizes for any occasion (for example: shopping in a town or shopping in a supermarket)
  • That's the same for your toiletries: for girls, replacing your disposable makeup wipes with makeup flannels which are 100% organic and reusable
  • For periods, you could opt for washable and reusable sanitary towels (3 are enough for me personally, I wash them by hand, and make sure that I always have at least one ready to use) or if not, there's the option of using the reusable menstrual cup (which saves space, reduces the toxic chemical products in our body and reduces plastic waste)
  • You can also invest in a bamboo hairbrush and a bamboo toothbrush to reduce plastic waste. They last a lot longer and some are even biodegradable!
  • In terms of food, use reusable knives and forks and take your own containers to keep your meals in, (always have one with you because you never know when you might need one!)

You mustn't hesitate to refuse to use disposable plastic bottles during your holiday, or plastic bags and other knickknacks and things you don't need which produce waste. Because before even starting to reduce, reuse and recycle, the best thing to do it to refuse.

Until big retailers get rid of plastic bags all over the world, it's up to us to continue to fight against plastic. Personally, I much prefer to fill up my hands and leave the shop rather than wasting a plastic bag.

It's also up to us to do our best when taking out the rubbish and making sure we put them into the correct recycling bin.

For your information, and for those who ask themselves "but is the rubbish really recycled?"

Well no! (well only a small minority).

For example, with regard to plastic waste:

  • only 9% is recycled,
  • 12% is burned,
  • and 79% of plastic waste is buried in the ground and under our oceans.

Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

9. Respecting the fauna as well as the flora

I know that it may be tempting, but you must never feed or touch wildlife, as a general rule.

Feeding animals makes them used to it and dependant on humans, and often leads to attacks.

Also, don't buy anything made from endangered plants or animals, from unsustainable deciduous trees or from ancient objects.

Not only does that aggravate the ecosystem, but also there's little chance of you getting through customs.

At the same time, don't engage in any animal activity (because the majority are unethical).

The 'World Animal Protection' estimates that at least 500,000 wild animals suffer from unethical tourist attractions in the world, and that 110 million people continue to visit these attractions every year.

Amongst the attractions which people visit the most are elephant riding, taking 'selfies' with tigers in Thailand, going out of the water carrying turtles, contributing to/helping dolphin performances and other sea animals...

The last thing I want to mention is that you must also think about verifying if your sun cream is a danger to the coral reefs and think about protecting our oceans and your skin.

10. Reducing the consumption of animal products

If you really want to respect the environment, this point is essential and is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint in the world.

According to the 'Worldwatch Institute', 51% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are caused by livestock.

The Earth, the water and all the other variables which are included in the sector of farming, generate just as much greenhouse gas as all the vehicles combined. And that concerns all animal products (meat, milk, cheese... )

Regarding sea animals, the majority of fish we put on our plate, is the result of a destructive fishing practice.

We over-fish by using horrible methods which damage sensitive habitats and often trap marine animals which ends up killing them. Commercial fishing is responsible for the death of a countless number of sharks, whales, dolphins and sea turtles, because they're unable to breathe in the nets and die.

Certain destructive fishing methods which you've probably heard of are: bottom trawling, cyanide fishing and blast fishing, for example.

90% of the global stock of fish overexploit the fishing industry. We kill simply too many fish that the ocean has to rebuild itself, and we could lose important species if we're not careful. The supply doesn't meet the demand.

I'm quite aware that the choice of our food regime is a personal choice. However, I would say that limiting your consumption of meat and fish to once or twice a week is a good start.

As I've said here that this aspect is related to the environment, but if you are sensitive to animal ethics and wellbeing, or even to a lifestyle which respects your body (if you pay attention to healthy food), just know that a vegetarian diet would also compliment your values (as well as doing the planet good).

Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

11. Spreading the message

If you already have some basic knowledge regarding the environment, that's already a big step forward.

Because many people in the world aren't aware of the negative effects of plastic, waste, meat consumption, cheap labour, soil degradation, etc...

As a traveller, we can help to make a direct impact on local populations with regards to this awareness (without imposing too much, just suggesting it).

For example, the next time that someone insists on giving you a plastic bag, tell them that plastic isn't degradable.

When someone has an extra large barbecue, tell them how the meat industry is harmful to our environment (but make sure to be gentle and not aggressive!).

When you see someone throwing away their rubbish, try not to shout, inform them that a wild animal could die from our rubbish.

We are all living on this Earth and we should work together to protect it.

Once again (I must insist), this point is very important, and we can't achieve if we don't forget to demonstrate condescension when we need help. We must be kept up to date and help to educate in a productive way and respect everyone.

12. Collecting and sorting waste

I know, I know, this point it far from the most exciting, however it is symbolic!

It reminds me of the association called 'Greenbirds', founded by the Japanese, who were completely outraged by the dirtiness and the rubbish in the streets of Paris. They couldn't help themselves and collected rubbish, until they ended up forming a group which is has now become a French-Japanese association! They still meet regularly to collect rubbish in Paris.

Saying that, the mentality of "it's not my rubbish, it's not up to me to throw it out" or "I'm only a traveller, I don't have to clean" doesn't apply here. We are all responsible for this Earth and for its state, (yes, okay I mean in part).

So, we can start by collecting rubbish we see floating around, then throwing it away correctly. Every little detail counts and it sets an example for others.

I don't know if I can say that this advice for eco-friendly travelling is the simplest, but in any case it's not exactly the most difficult. I really like keeping this in mind when I travel: always leave your destination in an even better state than how you found it.

For example, carrying a little bag to collect the rubbish you find on your walk is enough.

Or to make things more interesting, why not organise a friendly competition to see who can clean up the most rubbish possible within a limited time! Or even who can find the most bizarre rubbish!

Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

13. Giving back brochures and maps

For travellers who aren't looking to keep their 'tickets', brochures and maps to add to their travel collection or scrapbook, there's nothing forcing us to keep them (except produce more waste).

Our holiday destinations waste a lot of money, plastic and paper to provide tourists with glossy brochures and maps. So, instead of throwing them away, leave them for the next guests or leave them there so they can take them back.

14. Posting a comment

I really like this point because it seems silly at first, but it makes a huge impact!

If you like or don't like the way a hotel does something, leave a comment on 'Google' (on their site, their network or other sites).

Reviews and opinions are the best way to get your point of view across to the right person. That goes the same for restaurants, cafes and guided tours.

Your opinion will be public and counts enormously for the image behind the company. Therefore, it's the perfect opportunity to demand more eco-friendly change!

When I see a cafe using metal straws, I compliment them, in a comment, I recommend the place and I would go back there.

When I see a hotel or restaurant chain wasting resources, I leave constructive criticism hoping it will go straight to the manager and it could make a change.

15. Using carbon offsetting as a bonus

To finish with, I would like to approach the famous carbon offsetting which is proposed and suggested on numerous holiday booking sites. Yes, it's good to want to compensate for your emissions, but this system worries me a little because it doesn't eliminate pollution which is already there in any way, and it could encourage us to continue the polluting mobilisation on the basis that more trees are going to be planted.

That would be a way of having a clear conscience without making any real effort to respect the environment. Because in the end, I don't think that compensating without reducing consumption is of any interest.

Not forgetting that the trees we plant take years to grow, so by the time we have compensated for our emissions, I'm afraid it will be too late...

However, I don't want to denigrate this system either, because its intentions are really good! I can't encourage people to use it as many times as they can, but they should try to do the best they can to reduce their carbon footprint. And don't be satisfied with the benefits as it has very little impact.

Eco-responsible travelling: the ultimate guide in 15 steps (part 2)

And there you go, that's the last point! This took a really long time to write, but I honestly hope that this article pays off and helps more than just one person!

I would be happy to receive some feedback so don't hesitate to make any comments!

P. S: These photos come from my trip to Japan, I plan to post an article on that in my blog: Link

Thanks for reading and have a good day.

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