We’ve all heard about ways you can minimise your impact on the world whilst actually travelling, but do you know that there are many ways to reduce and counteract your own carbon footprint even before you leave your front door?
Even from the way you research your travels, how you book your trip, the way you go about preparing and of course what travel essentials you buy, you can make a small, positive difference to our beautiful planet. The best thing of all, these ideas are totally effortless (and many are cost-free too!)
Here are just 8 ways you can reduce your travel impact from the comfort of your very own home.
How many of these do you already do and which ones are you planning on adopting?
1. Search Using Ecosia Not Google
I recently wrote an article on my own blog where I raved about this search engine and I cannot encourage you all to download this enough!
Ecosia simply works in place of your usual search engine, such as Google or Bing. Every time you go onto a website or search for something, the commission tech giants would normally earn go instead to Escosia, an environmental charity which uses the money for tree planting projects around the world. How awesome is that?!
Each search you do is tallied up at the top of your home page showing exactly how many trees you personally have ‘planted’ over the history of your Ecosia usage. I’ve only contributed to the planting of around 350 but with the help of their 7 million worldwide users, they have managed to plant over 45 million trees (and counting!)
If you’re anything like me who will lose whole days to researching a trip just think of what a difference you can make without even realising it. You can
2. Delete Old Files/Emails
You may not be aware that pictures, videos, music and any other files that you have uploaded to Dropbox, Google Cloud or any other ‘cloud based’ storage sites still need to be physically stored on a device by the service provider. That means that somewhere there are warehouses full of huge servers constantly backing up all of your uploads.
These warehouses are extremely polluting. They consume crazy amounts of electricity and need to be temperature controlled with air conditioning systems so the servers don’t overheat, literally 24/7.
This is also the same set up with your email account. So all your old junk emails, the spam hotel and flight offers cluttering your inbox are also being externally backed up regardless of whether you read them or not. Have a massive clear up and delete any files you don’t want in order to cut down on the storage needed and thus reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Buy Solid Environmental Shampoo and Soap
Using solid products such as shampoo bars and eco soap are a great way to cut down your plastic usage as although recycling is good, it uses a lot of energy to do so. Cutting out non biodegradable packaging altogether is the best alternative.
I absolutely adore the solid shampoo bars from Lush as they are perfect for carry on luggage, use less space, are light, last longer than a bottle of shampoo (Lush state around 80 washes for their standard bars) and are packed with natural, gorgeous smelling ingredients. Just make sure you store them in a tin or bamboo pot to keep them dry.
I also look out for natural ‘eco soap’ to take abroad with me. Many countries drain their waste water into the ocean or rivers so by using environmentally friendly wash products, you are reducing the amount of toxic chemicals making their way to our seas.
4. Book to Travel by Bus, Boat or Train
Air travel is by far the most polluting mode of transport contributing to 3-4% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the world and, compared to other modes of transport, accounts for 75% of greenhouse gases produced (followed by road transport at 23%). Trains and buses (so long as they are at full capacity) are the most environmentally friendly transport options and can often be cheaper if you’re not travelling mega miles. Yes bus journeys are often longer and more uncomfortable, but on the plus side travelling slowly overland is a great way to see some new scenery, save some money and potentially make some memorable travel moments.
5. Avoid Packing Plastic Goods
There are so many eco-friendly alternatives to plastic products to take away travelling with you. I have personally converted to bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo cotton buds, reef friendly sunscreen in a tin and I also use a Lifestraw Go filtered bottle so I don’t have to buy bottled water. I’d totally recommend swapping to these brilliant alternatives as there is no quality compromise (which I find can sometimes be the case with certain environmentally friendly goods).
There are also many other plastic-free things you can bring travelling such as a metal foldaway cutlery set (so you don’t use disposable), reusable cotton pads, a Mooncup instead of tampons/sanitary pads and your own flask/coffee cup.
6. Turn Your Electronics and Heating Off Before You Go
Whether you live in your own place, are at home or rent a room, before you go away make sure you do a quick once over to ensure you’re not unnecessarily wasting power.
Switch off and unplug any electronics (as they still use power plugged in, even if they’re not being used), turn your radiators off in any empty rooms and/or adjust your heating timer/thermostat. There’s definitely no point having it up full blast to heat an empty house or room!
7. Print Travel Documents in Draft Mode/a Light Font
There are very few places that do not accept e-tickets or electronic documents these days. However, where you can’t go paperless, make sure you print documents using the ‘draft’ mode on your printer and switch from colour to black ink.
Even by changing font you can substantially reduce your ink consumption. For example switching from Arial to Century Gothic saves 30% more ink simply because it’s a less bold font. It’s a really minor change but if you do this for all your documents this will definitely add up and also save you money in the long run.
8. Pack a Canvas/Tote/Fold Up Bag
Whether I am at home or travelling, I am always sure to keep tote bags nearby so that I do not use plastic bags when grocery shopping or buying souvenirs at markets. When I am travelling I also find that they are a convenient addition to my day bag to carry bulkier items like books and snacks etc. for a long bus journey. They pack down really small so a material tote bag is ideal for any backpack or suitcase.
Do you do anything to minimise your impact from home that isn’t on this list? Let us know!