The way I see it, we all want to reduce the burden that our travels have on this Earth. We know that different forms of transportation, whether we’re talking planes, taxis, or those frickin’ cruises, have emitted 14% of total greenhouse gas pollution in the world. If you’re a nihilist who thinks that the Earth should continue burning like Australia is currently, then maybe you should go see it firsthand. Enjoy that nice brown rain and the choke-inducing smoke! Maybe cuddle a kangaroo left shelterless and think about what you stand for.
If you’re a normal human being that does recognize that the world is going to sh*t, but you want to do something about it without sacrificing your cultural stimulation, then this article is for you. Many people don’t even know how to start being more sustainable while planning their one-week vacation to Costa Rica that they’ve been waiting all year for. The guilt of the air pollution from a plane ride cannot be lifted by a single piña colada, though. It might taste sour, kind of like the air in New Delhi. Wow, that was a dark thought.
So, in order to envision what sustainable travel looks like in action, let’s check out three different people and how they manage to curb their emissions, lessen their water consumption, and still have a bomb time while traveling!
Carlo is a simple dude. He packs two pairs of pants: comfortable hiking slacks and some dark, fashionable jeans. Some Timberland ‘Chukka Sneaker’ Boots go a long way, anywhere from the mountains to the club. Add five different colored shirts, boxer briefs, swim shorts, and BOOM – he’s all packed for a weeklong trip to Costa Rica (yes, the dream destination of choice). You might be wondering, “okay, so he’s a light packer – who cares?” Well, first off, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing EVERY YEAR. Next, for each extra pound of weight that a plane has to carry, it has to expend more fuel to accommodate it. You know, basic rocket science. Not only does Carlo pack super lightly, but he also carbon-offsets his flight by going to cooleffect.org and donating to their Natural Biosphere project in Indonesia.
You don’t find a fashionable, dedicated man like Carlo everyday. Swoon.
Nina is a booking champion – the most efficient Googler in the game. Not only was she able to book an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos, two eco-friendly hotel reservations, and a local guide in both cities, BUT she also put time in her itinerary to participate in World Cleanup Day. Nina knows that she’s going to buy a pair of handmade earrings made from a combo of Thai silk and wood. She always buys a pair of earrings from wherever she goes. So portable! So chic! So ethical! When she arrives in Southeast Asia, Nina knows not to participate in high-risk behavior that many tourists get into, like doing drugs or starting fights in the Red Light District. I mean, she’s 5’1”, she ain’t gonna win.
And she’s definitely not gonna endanger local lives for a good story.
Gracey is spring-breaking, you guessed it, in Mauritius! And by spring-breaking, I mean doing a three-month research project on ~the effects of climate change on biodiversity~. While we all can’t be as academically-inclined as Gracey, we can definitely model some of our travel behavior after hers. Since the water quality in Mauritius isn’t perfect, Gracey carries a water-bottle with a filtration system that removes up to 99.999999% of bacteria and microplastics, so she never has to buy a plastic water bottle. She’s practicing the art of ‘Slow Travel,’ which means she has a better opportunity to make local friends, uncover the best hidden gem restaurants, and really engage with the culture of Mauritius. Despite being paler than a snowflake, Gracey refuses to use sunscreen with oxybenzone, the ingredient that does the most harm to coral reefs and other ecosystems. What a champ.
Some people would describe Carlo, Gracey, and Nina as ‘crunchy granola.’ But really, they’re doing the little things to reduce their impact on this world – it’s really not that hard! If you want to learn more about sustainable travel, don’t be afraid to do more research online! Or join the Shut Up and Go Facebook group, where we discuss pertinent travel tips and swap advice.
Also, I just dropped an ebook on over-tourism and traveling sustainably – use the code ‘samar20’ to get $1 off!
Good luck, my friends.