With quarantine rules reducing in Hong Kong, many are planning a long-awaited summer escape. But before we all set off on a revenge travel spree, we should take the opportunity to switch to a greener way of travel.
From the flights you book to the tours you choose as guides, read on to discover five sustainable travel hacks for your next trip:
1. Carbon-offset your flights
Did you know that the aviation industry contributes around 2.1% of the world’s carbon emissions? This might not sound like much, but in 2019, we produced 915 million tonnes of CO2.
One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to carbon offset your flights. While this doesn’t stop greenhouse gases from being released on the plane ride, it reaches a net zero (or even negative) emission by off-setting it somewhere else. This is usually done through forestry or sustainable energy projects.
Flying direct and economy are ways to cut down your contribution to carbon emission on the flight. Certain airlines have their own schemes or you can fund projects directly, so you have a say on where your money goes.
Calculate your carbon emission with an online calculator, and learn more about carbon offsets from these trusted resources: Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve, and Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance.
See also: The Truth About… Carbon Offsets
2. Choose eco-friendly Hotels
Now that we have carbon offset the flight, picking an eco-friendly hotel is the next step. An average hotel uses 1,500 litres of water per room and electricity contributes to 60% of the hotel’s carbon dioxide emissions.
More and more hotels are now adopting a greener policy. Main initiatives include reducing water usage through recycling and offsetting electricity through renewable means. Beyond that, sustainable hotels also look at waste management, policy, architecture, engage the local communities and try to source everything locally as much as possible. Some also have their own social projects to help the community.
Collectives such as Green Pearls highlight green hotels, and most sustainable hotels will list their eco-friendly initiatives and measures on their websites. So, the next time you search for a hotel, do some digging to find the most eco-friendly one.
3. Say No to Single-use Plastics
Little things can go a long way, and if you’re going to Southeast Asia, you’ll be no stranger to the amount of disposable, single-use plastic utensils and plates used. Every single plastic straw, fork, cup, and plate you use is another added to the landfill or the ocean.
Go prepared with your own reusable straws, cutlery, cups, bottles, and containers to eliminate as many disposable utensils as you can. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Pebble is reusable cutlery by Pharrell Williams with a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, and straw in a neat package.
- The Elephant Cuppa is great for bubble tea which wants their fix without the environmental impact.
- S’well is a trusted brand of the thermal bottle that can keep your drinks cold, hot, and lightweight.
4. Take Public Transport or Walk
Looping back to the point on carbon emission, transportation is a big part of many people’s carbon footprint. This is why it’s easy to reduce that by making use of the local public transport system such as shared bike schemes, busses, trams or simply by walking around.
Walking is a great way to experience the local life and see the city, and a 2.4 kilometer (1.5 mile) walk can already reduce greenhouse gases emission by 75% when compared to driving.
5. Support Local Tours
Traveling sustainably isn’t just about reducing your environmental impact – it’s also about how tourism affects the local communities. Over-tourism can push people out of their neighbourhoods, whilst mass tourism brings little economic value to the locals.
The best way to experience a city and support the locals is by picking tours that are either founded by locals or use local guides. Much like sustainably-minded hotels, these companies will likely promote their community-based tourism approach on their websites.
Here’s a list of some local tours in Southeast Asia to consider:
- Local Alike – community-based tours in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
- Take Me Tour – all tours are led by true local experts in Thailand.
- A Chef’s Tour – food tours in Latin America and Asia run by locals.
- Backstreet Academy – offers a variety of tours from craft experience to local community visits.
Make the 8Shades Switch
In summary, if you’re planning to travel and have sustainability in mind, be sure to:
- Offset your carbon footprint
- Choose an eco-friendly hotel
- Say no to single-use plastic (including disposable cutlery)
- Walk or take public transport
- Support local tours
Bon voyage! Tag us on Instagram (@8shadesofficial) during your sustainable summer travels for your chance to be featured!
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