Zero waste and sustainable travel


Global transportation accounts for 14 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions today, and the largest carbon footprint an individual can create is from taking a flight (Sustainable Home). Though we’re currently in a climate crisis, traveling the world doesn’t appear to ending anytime soon, as many of us must travel to visit relatives, for work related reasons, or for the sheer enjoyment of experiencing other cultures and locations. So is there a way to travel more sustainably if you find that you have to do so?

I’ve compiled my lessons learned from traveling in the video above, and summarized in the tips below in the case you’re interested in lowering your impact and waste on your next trip. No matter what we do in our lives, we’re bound to leave a footprint on the earth, but we can take more conscious steps towards lessening the negative impacts we create.


Ways to reduce your impact when traveling

  1. Transportation

    • Decide whether or not you really need to make the trip. Could you combine a work trip with a visit to some friends or relatives, or perhaps take a virtual meeting instead?

    • If you have the time, consider taking alternate modes of transport besides airplane

    • Calculate your total travel emissions with this calculator

    • Research carbon offsets to purchase (this video is great and includes helpful links in the description box), or donate time, money or resources to an organization that offsets carbon

    • Look up local public transportation options and bike share systems at your next destination

  2. Waste

    • Airport, bus or train station

      • Use a digital ticket instead of the paper one

      • Pack your own water bottle and snacks, opting out of in-flight meals

    • Toiletries

      • Pack your own zero waste toiletries instead of opting for single use plastic toiletries hotels often provide

    • Dining

      • Bring your on-the-go zero waste kit with you - a reusable container for leftovers, utensils, water bottle, etc.

      • Opt for dine in options if possible (Yelp eateries or call to check if they use reusables, or if you can use your own container)

      • Check if the destination offers municipal composting and follow their guidelines, otherwise see if you can drop off your compost at a local farm, farmers market, or a compost location on ShareWaste

      • If composting is not an option, opt for foods that generate less waste after eating (ex. apple only produces small core vs. a banana producing an entire peel)

      • You can also try to bring small amounts of paper and food compost home in a sealed container - just do what you can!

  3. Housing

    • Reduce water usage in the shower

    • Turn off lights when not in use, opting for natural light from open windows

    • Turn off the air when not in use

    • Opt out of room maintenance, keep all towels and sheets off the ground so they are not replaced

    • Use reusables or bring your own for complimentary breakfast and meals

  4. Supporting local economies

    • Visit local business and eateries to support what they are doing, they often have more local supply chains as well, which reduces their fuel usage

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