When we all feel able to safely and confidently travel again, let’s do so in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. My personal wish-list is to make a much bigger and better effort at travelling more consciously. One of my 2021 resolutions is to use my platform to raise awareness of sustainability issues more than I already do as I feel that one of the downsides of continued lockdowns and reliances on takeaways and 0nline shopping has been the resurgence of plastic waste.
If you watched the London New Year’s Eve display, you’ll have heard Sir David Attenborough’s message which was:
‘With the new year comes the opportunity for change. And if we act in 2021, we can make a world of difference. Together, we can turn things around. Together, we can restore our fragile home and make it a happy new year for all the inhabitants of planet Earth.’
Sustainable travel begins the moment you open your suitcase to pack for your trip. One major issue is the use of single-use plastic. However, it isn’t the only issue and there are also other things worth thinking about such as reducing the waste that you leave behind, as well as other aspects of sustainable travel such as cultural preservation and respect to local communities. It can even have a positive impact on your carbon footprint if you pack lighter!
With all that in mind, here’s my checklist which will help you pack more sustainably by keeping this all in mind when travelling this year:
- Pack clothes you already have
Rather than buying brand new clothes that will be worn only on a one off basis, why not get creative with the clothes you already own and mix and match! I am cutting down my clothes purchases drastically this year and also becoming more informed about where to shop to avoid fast fashion and bad practices when it comes to paying fair wages etc.
- Always carry an eco-bag with you. An eco-friendly shopping bag will ensure that you don’t end up buying plastic bags when browsing local markets or shops.
- A reusable water bottle. Many hotels, restaurants and airports these days offer drinking water refills which means you can significantly cut down on single-use plastic bottles during your trip. If you like drinking coffee, a re-usable coffee cup might be a good idea to pack too to avoid takeaway coffee cups that are not bio-degradable.
- Re-usable cutlery to minimise plastic forks, knives and spoons when eating out.
- Try to avoid taking throwaway items such as mini toiletries. The vast majority of hotels provide the basic items these days but if you like to have your own brands with you, decant them into small, reusable containers that you can take whenever you travel.
- Wet wipes are very handy to have on holiday, but did you know that the majority of mainstream brands contain plastic fibres that do not disintegrate? Stick to biodegradable or compostable versions.
- A bamboo or metal straw so that you can avoid using plastic ones which are almost impossible to recycle.
- Take a phrasebook or download a language app to help you learn a few words and phrases that will help you connect with the people you meet if going to a non-English speaking destination. Even if you make a small effort in speaking a few words it will be appreciated.
- Depending on where you are visiting, think about cultural considerations when you pack: what local dress codes do you need to be prepared for? For example, in some countries you are required to cover your head, shoulders and legs when entering a mosque or temple.
- Pack light! The lighter your suitcase, the lighter the load of your plane and other modes of transport you take and the less fuel they will burn as they take you from place to place.