It has never been more important to adopt sustainable travel practices into your life, so here are some helpful ways to travel sustainably this summer.
Once you adopt sustainable practices into your daily life, it can become second nature, part of your routine. Oftentimes, however, when we head off on our weekend away or summer holidays, those good practices go out the window. The desire to minimise your impact is still there but it becomes a lot more difficult when you’re effectively reliant on other providers. According to research from Booking.com, almost three quarters (72%) of travellers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. So with that in mind, here are five practical ways you can travel sustainably this summer.
1. Think about your transport
Transport accounts for 72% of tourism emissions. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to minimise that impact without affecting the enjoyment of your trip. For instance, why not stay longer in one area rather than changing locations every night? You could also stay a bit closer to home, be it the neighbouring county or country, or if there’s a group of you going, car share! According to Liftshare, if half of UK motorists received a lift one day a week, congestion and pollution would be reduced by 10%, traffic jams by 20% and individuals could save an average of £1,000 per year. For the biggest impact, opt for more eco-friendly forms of transport like trains, ferries and buses over cars and planes. If you really feel like you need that trip to the other side of the world, carbon offsetting is something worth looking into.
2. Choose eco-friendly and locally owned accommodation
It is becoming increasingly difficult to wade through all the greenwashing these days and find legitimate eco-friendly accommodation. One steadfast way to do this is to look for a system of verification like the Sustainable Travel Ireland quality label or other GSTC-recognised labels. A quality label like this means the accommodation providers have been certified to globally recognised standards when it comes to sustainability.
Always try and book locally owned accommodation too. That way, the money you spend is much more likely to benefit the community that is hosting you on your holiday.
Once you’ve made the booking, there are several easy ways to limit your impact for the duration of your stay, like reusing your towels (every 10kg towel wash consumes at least 50 litres of water), eating in local independently owned restaurants and switching off the lights when leaving your room. And try and choose sustainable activity providers too. Check out Sustainable Travel Ireland’s community of members for some ideas.
3. Cut out plastic
Single-use plastic is a difficult one to cut completely, but there are so many amazing alternatives these days. Easy ones to cut out on your holiday this summer are plastic bags, to-go containers and cutlery, those tiny shampoo bottles at hotels, plastic water bottles, and takeaway coffee cups. Most places will happily fill up your reusable water bottles if there is no fountain available. This handy website refill.ie tells you where to find local businesses and organisations pledging to give free tap-water refills. Finally, where elimination is not possible, recycle.
4. Reduce your food waste
Did you know that 25-35% of food in hotels is wasted? In Ireland, an average restaurant loses about €24,000 per year from food waste and an average hotel loses about €150,000 per year. The best thing you can do as a customer is to choose where you eat wisely. If a restaurant or cafe implements good sustainable practices like composting or donating to local farms as fertiliser, chances are they’ll be using it in their marketing, making them easy to spot. Secondly, don’t over order. If you’re not starving, opt for a half portion or a few sides. And when stocking up on snacks for your summer road trip, buy in bulk as snacks are well known for their excessive packing.
Collaborative Consumption (AKA sharing!) is the new buzzword. Between the rise of tapas bars and food tours, sharing will contribute to a sustainable lifestyle and it is fun! Where you can, eat locally sourced food. Not only does this support the local economy but it’s usually healthier and reduces your CO2 emissions by reducing the distance food travels from farm to consumer.
5. Shop smart
Avoid (or reduce!) the pre-holiday new wardrobe shop. Ask yourself do you really need this new item? If you can’t resist, then put some thought into where you’re shopping and what you’re buying. Buy local as much as possible, avoid chain stores and look for a fair trade or similar logo that states your clothes were made sustainably. And don’t forget your reusable shopping bag!
Sustainable Travel Ireland is a profit-for-purpose company. Our purpose is simple; we want to transform the Irish tourism industry into one that respects and protects the environment, but also supports local communities and makes better places for people to live and work in. Learn more about what we do here.