What is Green travel and why is it important?
Green travel is a concept that goes by many names; sustainable travel, ecotourism and responsible travel being the main ones. They all carry the essential message of protecting the planet, the country’s environment, and the local culture during your stay. Now, it is more crucial than ever to change our lifestyles so that we can aid in the fight against climate change. It is not news that air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, luckily for all of us travel enthusiasts there are ways to still tour the world whilst simultaneously taking care of it.
We can be more conscious of our actions and the impact they leave on the countries’ natural and cultural environment; it’s always important to do some research before you take a trip, so that you can have a better understanding of how you can holistically contribute to the country, rather than simply utilizing its resources. Examples of this being: staying in eco-friendly accommodation, getting involved in community initiatives or choosing to support locally owned businesses over international chains.
No matter what style of traveller you are, there is a way for you to do it in an eco-friendly way; from canoeing down the Amazon to luxury resorts in Bali, ecotourism covers all interests. It is just up to you to make the effort to give back to our planet.
What to ask before booking accommodation
Is the hotel locally owned and what percentage of the staff is from the local community? By booking with locally owned hotels, B&Bs or lodges, you are supporting the local economy and helping to generate wealth within the community. It is also important to ensure that your accommodation largely employs staff from the local community, this will also provide you with a more handmade, tailored experience.
What recycling programs are in place? Do they recycle their waste, is there a greywater system in place, do they compost food waste? All of these are important practices for the accommodation to participate in as they aid is the main goal of living a zero-waste lifestyle.
Is there a linen reuse program in place? Many properties do have this in place however, it is important to ask the specifics so that your towels and linen don’t accidentally get regularly replaced. If you are not sure of how it works, you can always inform reception of your wishes or leave a note for housekeeping.
How does the property reduce their energy consumption? Do they have solar panels or heat pumps in place, do they have LED lights, are the toilets and shower low flow? These all play large parts in using as little non-renewable resources as possible
How does the hotel give back to the local community? Properties can start up or get involved with various community projects such as beach clean ups, community centre volunteer days or children’s shelter donation funds. Projects such as these focus on creating relationships and giving back.
Considerations during your stay
Offset the carbon emissions from your flight, this is the easiest way to compensate for your carbon footprint as you travel. The price is normally a small sum, ranging between $10 -$50 depending on the length of your flight.
Use public transport in countries where that is a safe option, walking and biking are also great ways to see the city and to leave zero emissions. However, in countries where you need to travel far distances and public transport is not an option, renting the smallest car is usually the most eco-friendly option as they are the lightest on fuel. Hybrid cars are also a great green option.
You can book excursions with environmentally friendly tour operators, they will often have more fuel friendly cars to transport the groups and they are well informed on green activities in the surrounding areas or community projects that you can get involved in during your stay.
Hiking and nature walks are the best way to experience the full natural beauty of an area; many national parks ask for a small entrance fee in order to help preserve the wonderous flora and fauna.
Other great eco-friendly activities include, exploring game reserves, going to the beach, canoeing down rivers, picnics on local wine farms and ziplining through forests. All of which can coincidentally be done right on our doorstep in Cape Town, South Africa.