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4 ways to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling

July 22, 2018

Eco traveling - Arture

Part-time blogger of A Vivid Life, Madhur works in market research as a consultant for renewable energy in Pune, Maharashtra. "I run my blog as a side hustle, but I am hopeful that some day I can transition into doing it full-time," says Madhur. He began his journey toward sustainable living a year ago, when he began applying minimalism to his wardrobe. Gradually this led to him learning more about the impact of fast fashion on our environment and the very people who make our clothes. Having shifted to sustainable living since, he still feels like he has more to learn and hopes that his blog can be a medium, for having conversations on sustainability that can cause a collective shift in how we approach not just fashion but all the different facets of life itself. We requested Madhur to share some of his insights on sustainable travel. Below is the guest post that he wrote for Arture. :) 

In recent months, as I’ve made progress toward living a sustainable life, I’ve pondered over my love for travel and exploring different cultures and landscapes (which can often involve air travel) and its impact on the environment.

I feel that the impact of air travel doesn’t come up in conversations related to sustainability and the environment half as much as it should. I say this based on two facts -
1) the aviation industry is one of the few industries that is extremely dependent on fossil fuel with almost no alternatives
and
2) a single domestic trip can create a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide (which can take up a sizable chunk of the annual per capita budget set in order to ensure that we do not cross a global temperature of 2°C.)

We often overlook this fact because we look at the total contribution of the aviation industry to global greenhouse emissions (which stands at 5% presently.) What we fail to take into consideration is that as more and more people across developing nations begin to participate as well, this estimate is expected to snowball to 27% by 2050.

Arguably, the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to avoid air travel but I have come to realize that presently it is nearly impossible to do when traveling internationally or on a tight timeline. That said, we can offset some of this damage by being more conscious of our footprint through other aspects of our travel and here’s four simple yet effective ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint while traveling.

1. Stay at a hostel room with your friend

Staying at a hostel or sharing your room with a friend will help you reduce your carbon footprint while traveling because you will end up sharing many resources (energy, air-conditioning, water, etc.) that would otherwise be dedicated to only you. As someone who enjoys living alone and can’t imagine sharing my personal space, I was a bit skeptical about doing this initially but the more I thought about it, the more the idea of me staying all by myself in a hotel room seemed wasteful.

Beyond sharing resources, staying at a hostel or sharing a room with your friend is also a great way to avoid feeling lonely or isolated when traveling (especially in another country.) Each time I’ve stayed at a hostel, I have made some amazing friends and ended up spending a lot of time with them site-seeing, eating, and shopping together and have preferred this experience as opposed to checking-into a hotel and exploring the city on my own.

Eco hostels

2. Use transit and walk

Sharing resources doesn’t simply apply to where you stay but also how you commute. Whenever I travel, I try and do some basic research about the place I am about to visit in order to evaluate whether I can manage to avoid private cabs and commute only using public transit and walking. This isn’t possible and practical in all situations, but if you are visiting a place that is fairly well connected and are traveling light, public transit can be a way to not just reduce your carbon footprint but also save time and money. I also love to walk the last mile (the distance from the nearest station to your destination) because it makes the whole experience of exploring more palpable and allows me to absorb everything around me.

Walking around the city


3. Avoid single-use plastic

I have found that not all the places one visits will have laws in place that enable a commitment toward sustainability and protecting the environment that I am used to back home. On a recent trip to Thailand, I was completely overwhelmed by how rampantly plastic was used in the country. It was everywhere and although I managed to avoid it most of the time, there were definitely moments where I simply couldn’t. So, on your next trip, I highly recommend that you carry a basic kit of zero-waste plastic alternatives consisting cloth bags, reusable straws/forks/knives/spoons, a bamboo brush, and maybe even some containers. This should equip you to avoid single-use plastic to a fairly large extent and help dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

Use a reusable water bottle

 

4. Shop local

An interesting way in which you can reduce your carbon footprint is by shopping locally. Besides having the obvious benefit of empowering local artisans and brands, shopping locally can also help you reduce your emissions while traveling. A product often travels thousands of miles through various stages of supply chain before reaching the shelf you pick it up from. So, when you buy a product that wasn’t manufactured locally, you are contributing toward a considerable amount of emissions resulting from transportation. As opposed to this, shopping locally translates into a high probability that the product you purchased skipped transport not just to get to you, but also throughout its supply chain.

In the end, the most important thing is to be conscious and mindful of every single choice you make while you travel, whether it is where and how you stay, how you commute, or what you buy, because all these tiny aspects of travel quickly add up and if we are simply mindful, we can dramatically reduce the impact of our travels on the environment. 

Cedar Passport Sleeve by Arture
_________________
Madhur
www.avivid.life 
"conversations on sustaining beauty inward and outward through sustainable fashion, minimalism, and eco travel."




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