How to Be An Environmentally Conscious Traveler

Being an environmentally conscious traveler can make a big difference. Photography: Beau Blake

The inertia

Travel and sustainability may sound like a mix of each other, but with a little planning and some smart choices doing both is definitely within the realm of possibility. Before booking a trip, consider how you will get there, where you will stay and how you will get around. The environmentally conscious choice may not always be obvious, and it will often take a little more effort on your part. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together six tips for being an eco-friendly traveler – because there’s more to traveling than just scoring great surf.

travel light

Airplanes, trains and cars are some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, with airplanes being the top offender. When traveling abroad, lighten the load by packing only the essentials – the lighter the plane, the less it emits. Re-wear your clothes, rent a tablet at your destination and leave your laptop and other gadgets at home. It may not seem like much , but every little bit counts.

Stay in Eco Friendly Accommodations

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With eco-tourism on the rise, eco-lodges and green hotels are popping up across the gauntlet and available in a number of popular travel destinations. While both focus on environmental responsibility and minimizing negative impact, ecolodges are usually found in more remote and natural environments where green hotels are often found in towns or cities. For example, Hotel Harmony in Nusra, Costa Rica composts, uses environmentally friendly pesticides, uses solar panels to provide energy, provides all-natural bath products in guest rooms, offers bamboo straws, includes native plants in the landscaping, supports local projects that promote sustainable development, and participates in the “Tree plant” to offset carbon emissions.

Minimizing plastic waste

What is the best part of traveling by plane? For many, it’s free drinks, pretzels/peanuts, and sometimes meals. It’s certainly fun to dine at 30,000 above, but have you ever given much thought to the amount of plastic waste used on just one flight? Drinks are poured from small disposable containers into small disposable plastic cups. Every snack and drink comes with a paper napkin and every meal comes with disposable utensils and plastic cutlery. One option is to choose Hi Fly, a company that rents planes in Portugal and Malta. In December 2018, the company became the first plastic-free flight by replacing plastic containers and cutlery with bamboo alternatives and a composter. I hope more airlines will follow suit.

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Until they do, flying with Hi Fly won’t always be a viable option, but a simple solution is to bring your own reusable containers, cups and silverware to use not only on the plane, but throughout the trip.

Choose a board made sustainably

If you’re traveling locally, your pool is a good option, but if you’re traveling abroad, a rental is probably your best bet. Depending on your location, rental options may be limited, but if possible, choose a sled with an ECOBOARD project logo. Option Solid is NSP’s line of CocoMat and Standup Paddleboards, all Verified ECOBOARD Project Level 1 boards. There are a growing number of sustainably made boards available, so do your research and ask around to find an eco-friendly board that best suits your needs.

Take public transportation

When traveling, many people rent an automatic car as a means of getting around – but you don’t have to. If you plan your location ahead of time, you may be able to score a spot where the water and food are all within walking distance. For times when you want to explore or visit a place that is not accessible by foot, try taking the local bus or train system. It’s cheap, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, and it’s running anyway, so you might as well jump in.

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Choose a destination of a sustainable nature

Choosing a destination based on how sustainable the country is is definitely a unique way to set your travel plans. But, it can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Denmark, Great Britain, Finland, Malta and Sweden are currently the most sustainable countries in the world, in that order. The EPI quantifies and numerically marks the environmental performance of a country’s policies and is a good marker to go by when choosing a travel destination. Next time you’re deciding where to go on your next surf trip, do a quick Google search and try to base your decision on how eco-friendly the environment is.


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