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Conscious Long Trips!

05.24.2021

How to minimize pollution while we travel long-distance

As summer is coming up, thoughts of a summer vacation naturally arise.

The question of where to go and what to do starts occupying our minds and we make plans. Additionally, with travel restrictions being lifted in several countries, it becomes more accessible to travel long distances again. However, there is a bitter taste associated with travelling for all the eco-friendly people who worry about the planet’s future.

Long-distance journeys cause, not surprisingly, a large amount of pollution to the environment.

Overall, flights make up between 12% and 40% of the global carbon footprint of tourism. However, despite these figures, at times we may have to or simply want to travel – whether it be for work or leisure.

But is there a way to travel more consciously and thereby act in line with our sustainability values?

The answer is: Yes, there are several options to do so!

Three Steps to Carbon Neutrality

…1

Of course, the most effective way to reduce pollution is to travel less. Avoiding greenhouse gas emissions should always be the first step but is not always attainable.

…2

As a second measure, it is crucial to reduce emissions. You can achieve this by planning your journeys consciously – this means that you need to think beforehand on which routes you will take and how, to create the most efficient travel plan possible.

Additionally, travelling light helps in reducing the weight and therefore the emissions of your plane. To travel light, try to take a more minimalistic packing approach and focus on only bringing the essentials. There are also services that offer you to rent clothes – check if there is one at your destination. This saves you loads of packing, and it helps the planet.

To get around at your destination location, you can rent a car or use car-pooling services such as BlaBlaCar.

…3

Thirdly, there is the method of carbon offsetting to compensate for the carbon emissions caused by your travels. Companies and individuals have the option to calculate their footprints, and to offset them by purchasing high-quality climate certificates. These certifications are generated from sustainable projects in developing and emerging countries, where carbon emissions are either being avoided or reversed. They also contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, such as gender equality and climate action.

Here is a link to a resource where you can calculate your next trip’s emissions and offset them. When purchasing climate protection certificates, make sure to buy only those of internationally recognized standards. This includes VCS, UN CER and the Gold Standard – they assure that the projects have been audited and fulfill all the requirements.

Slow Travel

On another note, have you heard of slow travel? It is a way of travelling where instead of flying or driving from one place to another very frequently, you focus on one area and take in all the beauty there is to discover. Slow travel is better for the environment as you cause less pollution, and it will enable you to immerse yourself fully in the new culture, as well as save money. This approach to travel is connected to a more far-reaching mindset: that of being in the moment and showing gratitude for the planet.

Ecotourism

You also have the option of looking into ecotourism opportunities. That is, “tourism directed towards exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife”, according to the definition from Oxford Languages.

However, not all ecotourism is created equal. It is essential to make sure beforehand that the trip does not do more harm than good, for example by putting fragile vegetation or wildlife at risk. If you would like to see a range of ecotourism destinations, you can click here or here.

Final Thoughts

Once you have arrived at your destination, you can try to give your money to local businesses to support the domestic economy. This can promote development and stimulate growth, creating a positive social and economic impact. The tourism industry as a whole employs a significant portion of the world population: Before the pandemic, Travel & Tourism accounted for 10.6% of all jobs (334 million), and 10.4% of global GDP (US$9.2 trillion).

Therefore, the solution cannot be to stop travelling altogether, but to travel as consciously and eco-friendly as possible.

Act mindfully on your journeys: Don’t litter, be respectful of the environment and enjoy your next vacation!

For more sustainability information, visit our article on Sustainable Travel!

  •  Which actions are you going to take to behave more consciously?
  • What do you think of the clothing and car renting system?
  • Could we as a community support each other in our sustainability efforts, for example by offering local sustainability hacks?
  • Will you consider Carbon Offsetting for your next long-distance journey? Why or why not?
  • Should we consider tools such as virtual or augmented reality to satisfy our travel desires without burdening the planet?
 Sources
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4 Comments

  1. Matteo

    Regarding the question: Should we consider tools like virtual or augmented reality to satisfy our wanderlust without burdening the planet –> Difficult topic. To a certain degree, definitely yes. I personally find documentaries a great way to get an insight into the nature and culture of other countries !

    Reply
    • Komoneed

      Thank you for your comment and contribution!

      Reply
    • Anastasia

      Yes, true- I actually also love watching some Youtube recordings of nature, or using websites like LifeAt.io to “immerse” myself in landscapes, even while studying!

      Reply
      • Komoneed

        Thanks Anastasia!… LifeAt.io is a visrtual interesting experience… Hope it doesn’t follow the path of MySpace…

        Reply
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