How to Be a Green Nature-Friendly Traveler

by author David Jones

The world is a much smaller place now we have air travel and there are hundreds of exciting destinations to choose from. However, the more we travel, the more we have an impact on the places we visit and it’s not always positive.

Our travels definitely take a toll on the earth and all its resources from increasing the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through flying to engaging in wildlife encounters abroad. These things do not contribute to the conservation and protection of the environment.

We must protect our planet and all the wonderful things in it. How can we still enjoy the world without causing damage to it? Here are a few tips on how to be a green nature-friendly traveler.


Buy a reusable shopping bag


When you go shopping, don’t let the staff pack your items into plastic bags. Everyone knows that the amount of plastic in the world today is devastating to the environment, yet many countries do nothing about it. However, more and more supermarkets are introducing reusable shopping bags. If you want to do your bit, part with a few pennies and take your bag with you every time you go shopping.


Take a direct flight


Wherever possible, consider taking a direct flight rather than one with 1 or 2 stops. The number of carbon emissions from a plane taking off and landing is increased which obviously isn’t good for the atmosphere. Taking 2 flights to reach your destination means that the plane will emit double the amount of carbon than if you were to take just 1 flight. In addition, many member airlines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), such as United Airlines, British Airways, and Emirates, invest in carbon reduction programs. Some airlines have their own ways of decreasing their carbon footprint while others offer their customers the opportunity to help by asking for a small donation which goes towards the cost of these programs.


Choose your accommodation wisely


Many hotels across the world use green building rating systems such as LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The system rates hotels on factors surrounding the design and construction of hotels. If hotels use fewer resources and implement ways to reduce waste and negative environmental effects it will be easier to achieve the certification. There are LEED certified hotels in 40 US states, 31 countries, and 4 continents, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one. Another way to be green is to look for accommodation that employs local staff and serves local food. That way, you can help look after the welfare of people who live and work in a country.


Don’t do what you wouldn’t at home


Most of us don’t wash our towels or bed linen every day nor do we leave the electricity on when we go out, so don’t do this when you’re traveling. If you make an effort to turn off the TV and AC you’ll be helping to reduce the amount of electricity used. In addition, your room doesn’t need cleaning every day, so make use of the do not disturb sign and reduce the number of chemical cleaners that the housekeeping staff use.


Support the locals


When you go searching for mementos from your holiday it’s a good idea to buy products that have been created by local people. This is how they make their living, so you’ll be helping them feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Many of the beautiful arts and crafts you find abroad are made in people’s homes, sometimes on the street in front of you. There is no need for large factories which release pollution in the atmosphere. Not only that, the cost of locally produced items goes straight into the seller’s pockets, rather than them being paid a pittance, slogging away for their employers for long hours each day. Another important aspect of buying local products is the fact that you will be playing a part in keeping cultures and lifestyles alive.


Look after the wildlife


While this happens in many countries, having your photo taken with animals is particularly popular in South East Asia. It’s not uncommon to see locals with a monkey on a chain in popular areas. Of course, it’s natural to want to get up close with these cute little creatures, but before you do, think it through. These animals have been victims of the illegal wildlife trade and they have been mistreated and abused to perform for humans – all for the sake of making a quick buck. It’s not just monkeys – elephants, tigers, even crocodiles. It will be a sad day if these animals completely disappear from the wild, so help them by saying no to souvenir photos.

Protect the great outdoors


It’s such a pleasure to get out and explore the great outdoors, but how long will those places last if we persistently damage the environment? If you happen to be hiking in the mountains, don’t leave marked trails, you might damage protected flora. If you’re diving, try not to touch the corals, some of which have taken 10,000 years to grow and you’ll destroy the fragile ecological community that provides a home to many species of marine life.

The earth is a truly beautiful place and it’s our home. Without the earth, we would be homeless! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone took it upon themselves to be responsible and green travelers. If we do just one small thing or make one simple choice to reduce the negative impact on the earth’s habitats, to help the locals survive, to help the animals thrive, the positive influence on the earth could be huge. As the saying goes:

“Take only memories, leave only footprints – Chief Seattle”