Flying is one of the least eco-friendly things we can do, but who wants to live a life without travel? I certainly don’t. I think it’s so important to visit other places and cultures, see how other people live and try new things.
I just returned from a trip to London (again). I rented an apartment in Notting Hill, three blocks from that book shop in the movie. You know the one. Sadly, there were no Hugh sightings, but the neighborhood was charming and a lot of fun. I had a lovely trip, filled with cupcakes, friends and even a Thanksgiving abroad. But still, I can’t help but have a nagging feeling about how far I flew to get there. To help ease a bit of the guilt over all this traveling I’ve been doing, here’s how I keep my trips as eco-friendly as possible. No, it doesn’t make up for all that fossil fuel, but it’s a start.
7 Simple Eco-Friendly Tips To Ease the Travel Guilt
1. Bring a reusable water bottle
Sure, it can be a bit bulky, but I never leave home without my Sigg. I make sure to drink up what’s left in it before I go through airport security, then find a water fountain once I’m in the clear to have liquids on me again. This keeps me hydrated at the airport, on the flight and throughout my trip, no plastic water bottles or plastic cups required. Besides, have you heard what’s in the ice on airplanes? Ick.
2. Bring your own food
A good meal or snack is always on my Day Of packing list. It’s rare that airports have healthy and tasty food options, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that anything you pick up is going to come in wasteful packaging. Save the waste (and the calories) and bring your own. I like packing a good, well-balanced meal and a fun treat, like a healthy sandwich, a vegetable side dish and a baguette with a chunk of dark chocolate. I tote my food in my own Tupperware, which I can then reuse throughout my trip for leftovers or keeping my suitcase organized.
3. Visit a Farmers Market
One of the first things I like to do when I book a trip is figure out where the nearest Farmers Market is. On an earlier trip to London, I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful market a short walk from my friend’s house in Bermondsey. We stocked up on fabulous produce and meat, and ate for days. Sure, I love eating out on vacation – and you might not have a kitchen where you’re staying – but seeing what’s local and in season in a particular area, and at the very least picking up a few snacks, is a great eco-travel experience. For travels in the US, check out Local Harvest; everywhere else, turn to my good friend Google.
4. Pack your own silverware
Did you know those forks and spoons made of corn and potato starch aren’t actually compostable if you don’t, you know, compost them? However, one thing they definitely are: totally reusable. If you have to grab one, and it doesn’t melt in your soup, save it! I also like to wrap up a fork, knife and spoon in a dish towel, secure it with a rubber band (maybe even one of those fat purple ones that came wrapped around your broccoli stems), and toss it in my purse. Instant lunch set!
Thankful I had this fork in my purse for a delicious but sticky Almond Orange Cake with Chocolate Fondant at Ottolenghi
5. Unplug everything before you leave
This is a good thing to do anyway (my Dad says he always knows when I’ve been to his house, because he finds his toaster unplugged), but it’s especially important to remember to unplug appliances before you go out of town. When you’re leaving on a trip, it’s time to pull the plug and flip the switch. Your TV, alarm clock, microwave and floor lamps don’t need any power while you’re out of the house. The environment (and your electricity bill) will thank you.
6. Exercise outside
Speaking of unplugging, travel is the perfect excuse to get away from the treadmill or elliptical hamster wheel. There’s no better way to explore a city than by foot. A run through town is a great way to see a different side to your travel destination. And remember to pack comfortable shoes for all that walking you’re sure to be doing!
7. Buy locally made
Since you’ve already flown the miles, why not do a little importing yourself? Keep an eye out for fabulous, locally made products. Be sure to look for things actually made in the country or area you’re in, and not tourist items made in China! Besides, it’s a lot of fun when someone asks where you got a certain something, and you can oh-so-casually respond, “Oh, in London (or Spain or Hawaii or Kansas).”
What do you do to make your travels as eco-friendly as possible?”