This is a guest post by Harper Reid. Harper is a freelance writer from New Zealand who contacted me asking if I’d be open to accepting a guest post from her about ways that the travel industry is becoming more eco-friendly. Although eco-friendly travel does interest me, it’s a subject that I know little about, and so I was more than happy to accept her offer and learn something from her! Below is the finished article – I learnt a lot from it, and hopefully you will too. A link to Harper’s personal blog where you can find more of her work is at the end of the article.
Travelling has become increasingly popular with people the world over, and with all of the reviews of the internet at our fingertips, it’s never been simpler to vote with our dollars and purposefully patronise companies whose values align with our own. Particularly crucial in today’s world is environmentalism; more people than ever are concerned about the state of the environment and the impact that travelling can have on the earth. Thankfully, tour providers, hotels, and other travel industry businesses are increasingly focused on making a difference.
Here are just a few of the ways the travel industry is becoming more eco-friendly:
1. Hotels and other accommodation providers are frequently working with eco-friendly businesses
Plenty of accommodation providers choose to partner with businesses that are doing positive things for the environment, or that are at least reducing their environmental impact. Many modern hotels also encourage their guests to consider the environment when deciding if they really need their sheets changed or their towels washed during a short stay. You may see signs to this effect in your hotel, which is sure to be a reassuring reminder that accommodation providers around the world realise the negative impact that all that washing is having on climate change.
2. Hotels and hostels are recommending eco-friendly tourism activities
While TripAdvisor and other similar sites are often the method of choice for tourists interested in deciding where to eat and what to see while they’re in town, hotels and hostels often provide brochures on local attractions, and staff are usually happy to recommend their favourite places to visitors. Many accommodation providers now consider the environmental impact of popular activities and choose to recommend more sustainable options to tourists, whether in the form of a restaurant that doesn’t use plastic packaging or an animal attraction that has a proven track record of treating their animals humanely.
3. Travel providers are adding a carbon emission offset fee
Carbon emission offset fees are commonly found with airlines and other transport providers, and have been a valuable change in the travel industry. Many companies now encourage their customers to pay a small fee to ‘offset’ the carbon emissions generated from their journey, with proceeds going to environmental projects. While flying is still far worse for the environment than other forms of transport, it’s comforting to know that money is being directed towards tree planting and energy projects. If you’re asked to add a little extra when you next book a flight, consider checking that ‘yes’ box – the environment will thank you.
4. There’s been a rise in sustainable tours
Many tourists are moving away from traditional travel activities and choosing to take part in those that have less impact on the earth. As just one example, visitors to countries in Southeast Asia can join eco-tourism tours in which they learn about the history of the area they’re visiting and stay with locals. Eco-tourism opportunities are available the world over, and should be considered an excellent alternative to mass tourism.
5. Bloggers are offering recommendations and tips
Social media enthusiasts will have come across plenty of travel blogs and Instagram accounts. Reflecting the growing social concern about saving our environment, many people behind these accounts are environmentalists, or at least interested in doing their part for the environment, and they’ll often offer their followers tips on where to go, what to see, and how to do it sustainably.
It’s easier than ever to make responsible decisions while travelling. Although the travel industry accounts for almost 10% of all carbon emissions, it’s still possible to make choices on your next trip that’ll minimise your impact on the earth, and it’s heartening to know that some major companies and influential individuals are focused on making a difference, too.
The late Anthony Bourdain once said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” This quote beautifully and eloquently sums up Harper’s mindset on traveling. Find more of Harper’s published work on her Tumblr page, Harper Reid.