Recent research shows that more than 80% of people believe it is important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly and 60% want to be more environmentally and socially conscious on their travels. Surprisingly the research found that consumers will spend an average of 31% more on accommodation they know operates responsibly!
So there is a clear interest in being more responsible while we explore. Here are ten tips to reduce your impact on holiday:
Choose a conscious operator
The easiest way to learn if your operator is as eco-friendly as they claim is to look out for certification from schemes such as the Green Tourism Business Scheme, TripAdvisor’s Green Leaders and Green Key.
Avoid over-used destinations
Venice, Barcelona, Machu Picchu and the Phi Phi Islands are on everyone’s bucket list but are unfortunately victims of their own beauty and wonder. Over-tourism contributes to an increase in water consumption, air pollution, litter and waste.
There are many places around the globe that need, and want, more tourists. Travelling off the beaten track, in smaller groups or during off-season is recommended. This not only helps avoid over-tourism, but it will give you a greater connection with local people and ways of life – a far more authentic holiday experience.
How to travel
It is important to consider how you will travel to your holiday destination. If you are travelling within the UK, think about using public transport or when possible, cycling using a cargo bike. If you are travelling within Europe, the Eurostar is an affordable, enjoyable and efficient way to travel!
If you need to fly there are ways to lighten the impact, for example by booking economy seats, buying only direct flights, packing light (although remember your own reusable shopping bags, coffee cups and water bottles) and thinking about carbon offsetting your journey.
Take your hiking boots and bike (or look for rental bikes)
The activities you plan during your time away can also affect the carbon footprint of your holiday. Use this break to reconnect with nature; spend time cycling, walking or forest bathing in the local area. This is a great opportunity to explore less travelled areas and challenge yourself to a new experience.
Act like you would at home
Being in a hotel may feel like a luxury experience, so it can be tempting to spoil yourself. We still recommend taking short showers (max. four minutes), turning lights off when you aren’t using them, turning phone chargers off at the wall, reusing towels, taking reusable shopping bags with you, avoiding plastic water bottles if possible and following local recycling guidance for your waste.
Visiting the beach
If you are near the water, choose eco-friendly water sports activities like paddle-boarding or kayaking, over those involving motorised vehicles.
The cosmetic products we choose can also have an environmental impact. Some popular beaches in Hawaii, Mexico, Galapagos, and Costa Rica have decided to completely ban sun creams containing Oxybenzone as even a tiny amount can harm corals by damaging the DNA of mature and larval coral. We recommend choosing sunscreens which contain mineral filters instead. Look for beaches with a Blue Flag label, which are committed to sustainable tourism and clean water for you and your family.
Think about your meals on holiday
Many of us disregard the issue of food waste when we are on holiday, especially if it is a buffet system or all-inclusive holiday package. The UK hospitality and food service sector produced nearly three million tons of food waste in 2011, of which 34% is plate waste.
One of the best things you can do to eat sustainably on holiday is to choose local cuisine. Not only is this beneficial for the environment, but it could also enhance your experience.
Do you really need to buy a new outfit?
When planning a trip, the temptation is to buy new clothes. But remember that you might not wear them much in the future. Research shows that in the UK we spend over £700 million per year on outfits bought purely for holidays!
It is always best to borrow, buy second-hand or even redesign items you already own. We loved this story about a challenge to wear the same dress for 100 days.
Think about the souvenirs you buy
Think twice about the purchases you make – do you really need that item in the long term? It might be one of the first things you throw away next time you have a declutter!
Consider buying locally produced and responsibly sourced items that truly benefit the local economy. Be aware that some souvenirs are made from endangered or protected species, including coral, animal hides and body parts, tortoise shell or ivory. These souvenirs may have been harvested illegally which threatens species’ populations.
Give feedback, suggestions and ratings
When rating or giving feedback, remember to include feedback on environmental aspects that you noticed or that were missing. You could make a suggestion that improves the venue in the future!