Top 10 tips for lowering your holiday's impact on the environment
It's that time of year. Spring has sprung and holidays have begun.
As the world slowly opens up again after a few years of COVID restrictions, many people are considering the environmental impact of their holidays a bit more than before as we've gained a greater awareness of how our actions impact the world around us.
Whether you're planning on taking a big trip this year after years of limited travel options, or you're embracing the staycation concept having enjoyed doing it for a couple of years, there are many ways that you can lower your environmental impact while on holiday this year. Here are our top ten:
1. If travelling offset your carbon emissions
Whether you're heading somewhere local, venturing off to another part of the country, or traveling abroad to distant lands, how you get there will play a big part in the environment impact of your holiday.
Fear not! There are many ways of offsetting your journeys impact.
Reducing the environmental impact of flying
Until aeroplanes are propelled by solar power, hydrogen or some other emission free means, flying somewhere will always involve your trip having a high carbon footprint.
Until airlines have the tech to stop their emissions, there are options for offsetting your flights.
British Airways and easyJet are among several airlines that buy carbon offsetting on your behalf and then allow you to buy them when booking your tickets. Not perfect, but better than not doing so.
Other services like ecologi allow you to offset your carbon emissions for more than just your flights...
Reducing the environmental impact of driving
If you're driving locally, or taking a long road trip there are a number of things you can do to reduce your emissions (and save fuel costs at the same time!):
- choose an electric or hybrid car for your journey (if you're hiring or due to get a new car)
- if your car has an "Eco" mode, use it. This mode will allow the car to calculate when the engine is needed or not and effectively turn it off when it's not. Some models will also reduce the acceleration to be more fuel efficient when speeding up
- if your car doesn't have an eco mode, you can still make a conscious choice to drive gently. Less hard acceleration and more gradual braking will use less fuel overall. On longer trips this can quite significantly increase your mile per gallon averages, getting more miles out of your tank and saving you money!
Using rail instead of driving
Even better than driving more carefully, or using an electric / hybrid car would be to consider taking the train instead of driving.
Several of the apps / websites you can use to book train tickets now show you how much carbon you're saving by taking the train over driving, so it's easy to work out how much of an impact traveling by train could have.
Buses, bikes and boots
For those not traveling too far, taking the bus, getting on your bike or walking are all better for the environment than driving. And all three options allow you to enjoy the environment you're travelling through more than driving would. Double bonus.
2. Pick a wildlife friendly sunscreen (or use a hat)
For the sun seekers amongst you having some protection from sunburn should be a priority, but many of the sun lotions and creams on the market today contain ingredients that can be harmful to wildlife, especially the aquatic variety. So be careful about which brand you buy. Particularly if you're heading somewhere you plan on swimming or partaking in some form of watersport.
Also consider wearing long sleeves and hats to reduce how much lotion you need to apply. They're often more effective and don't pose the same risks to wildlife. And they don't require any plastic bottle, pump or spouts...
3. Leave no trace
Wherever you're visiting, chances are you're there to enjoy the beauty of the place (city, countryside or coast).
Try to leave wherever you are free of any signs of your visit. Take your rubbish home if out in the countryside. Don't disturb the wildlife, etc, etc.
Even consider going one step further and taking other people's rubbish home if you encounter any.
4. Take a reusable bottle / cup
Lots of people have got into the habit now of taking a reusable water bottle or coffee cup out with them day to day at home. Do the same while you're on holiday and you'll both reduce the waste having a drink could create and save some money by needing to buy fewer drinks when out and about.
Many cities in the UK now have free drinking water refill stations at various locations, making it even easier to refill when away from home.
5. Save space, cost and fuel by packing less and washing your clothes
We've all had that experience of packing a suitcase with all the essentials and then a few "just in case" items to be safe. Then after enjoying the holiday we come home, open the cases up and realise we've used less than half of what we packed.
So, save space, cost and fuel by packing less. Only the essentials.
If you're planning on being away for a while consider packing fewer outfits and taking some travel soap to wash clothes in the bath / sink at the place you're staying.
For those flying, having only carry on luggage can save hours of queuing at airports.
For those driving, packing fewer clothes means less weight in the car, which means lower fuel costs for your journey.
For those taking a train, bus or bike, you'll be thankful for the lighter weight you have to lug around while on the move.
6. Turn your heating off while you're away
With energy costs in the UK rising rapidly recently, any way of reducing your heating bill should be top of mind. If you're away, your home doesn't need to be heated, so turn it off.
Many newer heating systems have a "holiday mode" now that allows you to set a leaving and returning date and time. While you're away the heating will only come on if there's risk of pipes freezing. Then when you're on your way back it will get the house up to temperature for your return if needed.
Older systems can be put on timers, or just turned off while you're away.
7. Get a solar panel charger for your phones / tablets
If you're lucky enough to experience good sunny weather while away, why not use it as free energy?
There are a growing number of solar panels on the market that will charge your devices or battery packs, etc. Leave them on the parcel shelf of your car while out enjoying the day, or next to your lounger by the pool. Or even strapped to the outside of a rucksack if you're exploring somewhere by foot.
If we get a good sunny summer this year, you'll be able to use them at home too, helping with those energy bills...
8. Buy local while away
More and more people are buying local while at home. It helps local businesses and helps, in some cases, to reduce the carbon footprint of the product's journey to you.
The same benefits apply when away: buy local and you'll be helping the local economy where you holiday and you'll be reducing the environmental impact of the food, drink and other things you're buying.
9. In a hotel, reuse your towels
Most hotels now have signs up in their bathrooms about reusing towels, so this is a fairly familiar tip now, but one worth repeating. If you're staying more than one night at a hotel, reuse your towel instead of expecting a fresh one each day.
It's a small change on an individual level, but makes a huge different to a hotel's overall water, energy and chemical use.
10. Take a solid shampoo bar with you 😉
Finally we're bias, obviously, but we'd recommend taking a solid shampoo bar with you on your trip, even if you're staying somewhere that provides you with shampoo.
Using your own bar will reduce the need to refill liquid shampoo dispensers that some hotels use. It will reduce the need to replace those little single use bottles that other hotels provide. Reducing the number of plastic bottles and packaging that need disposing of in both cases.
As a bonus, you can use a Tidy men's solid shampoo bar not only to wash and mildly condition your hair, but our customers tell us they've also used them as a body wash, beard shampoo, hand wash and shaving foam.
One bar, many uses. That, in our book, makes our solid shampoo bar a very useful travel companion.
If travelling with a solid shampoo bar, remember to dry it as best you can after use before packing it away in a travel soap dish. Doing so will prolong the life of the shampoo and stop it making too much mess if the dish leaks.
Alternatively you could pack your shampoo bar in a breathable soap bag like this one from matador.
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