Photo by Alvin Balemesa on Unsplash
As you begin to plan for summer vacations spent with friends and loved ones (or just yourself), your visions of getting away to a place far from everyday stressors may get interrupted by your newfound environmental concerns. Unfortunately, while the stressors may not follow us into our log cabin in the mountains or the golden sand beaches, the consequences of our travels do...
You might have a vague idea of traveling’s contributions to climate change. As you may have read in the last article, apathy is a true danger to maintaining a progressive mindset towards environmental issues, and distance creates apathy in our actions. Perhaps it’s a little closer to home to imagine the 80 kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted by your passenger seat alone when you take a short flight from Germany to the UK, or three times that amount on a cruise. Even just the average passenger vehicle emits about 400 grams per mile. How can we look at our personal carbon footprints left in the snow of a resort or the sand of a beachside hotel and minimize them?
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash
Getting away: redefined
First of all, consider ways to minimize your travels. Why is it so tempting to go so far for a summer vacation? Maybe the distance you’re looking for is psychological and you just need to set aside time for yourself and/or your loved ones. Getting away can be taking a break from your work life and worldly troubles for a while and focusing on other things! We can start by limiting our access to social media, email, and the internet (No wait, not yet! Keep reading!). Put your work materials such as laptops and paperwork out of places of retreat (like living rooms and bedrooms). If you have more than yourself to worry about, you’d be surprised at how nice it can be to spend time at home or in the surrounding community. This helps create much more time to focus on them rather than booking flights, packing the trunk, or helping them find lost passports. Additionally, time spent in the community could help yourself and those accompanying you find the local hidden gems to appreciate your home.
However, getting together can mean traveling great distances to see each other. Consider carpooling with family nearby as possible and packing a lunch in reusable containers to avoid the single-use waste of fast food!
When far travels is a last resort
Perhaps you don’t have a say in the trip, but you still want to spend time with those going. Or, maybe you’ve got another business trip on your hands instead of a vacation. If it’s the latter, perhaps you could bring up more remote conferencing as an option to your employer, as discussed in a past article. But, when travel is necessary, you can still try to lighten your carbon footprint.
Some of the more well-known tips to travel “lightly” are to pack only what’s necessary as more weight leads to more emissions in your mode of transport. Maintain the same energy-efficient habits you remember at home such as turning off light-switches, televisions, and appliances and taking brief showers. (This is harder to remember than you’d think in a new place!) Tend more towards local produce if applicable (Take care to wash your produce well as usual. As you may know, some places require more steps to wash your produce or drink safe water than your home.)
A final more creative way to mitigate is contribute towards the United Nations’ Carbon offset program, where you contribute towards carbon offset projects. Examples of such projects include reforesting, introducing renewable power sources all over the world that fit an area’s climate, maintaining composting plants, and so on. Similar to removing one pound of plastic per every brush bought from EVAS, this program lets you estimate approximately how many metric tons (which each equal about 1.1 US tons) you’re ultimately removing with cart items displayed as tons of carbon. Just be careful not to overuse this as an eraser: even the United Nations take care to define carbon offsetting as merely “a climate action that enables individuals and organizations to compensate for the emissions they cannot avoid, by supporting worthy projects that reduce emissions somewhere else.”