Who doesn’t like spending a weekend in a nice exotic (CLEAN!!) place? We are constantly searching for the most pristine places to visit – whether it’s the Swiss Alps (If you can afford it!), the valleys of Kashmir or the backwaters of Kerala. Over the years this search has become more and more difficult. Places have become over commercialized and have been left looking like massive landfills. You will often hear people say “That place is so dirty! Let’s go somewhere else!!” but have you ever thought about who makes a place dirty? That’s right! – US!!
When we travel we love to eat a packet of chips every 10 minutes, buy plastic bottles filled with fizzy drinks and basically love to eat at every minute of the day – at least that’s the way I like to travel 😛
Over time I realized it’s not a sustainable way of travelling. Not only does it become heavy on the pocket but also we are leaving behind tons and tons of garbage in a place that’s someone else’s home and at the end of the day our beautiful planet.
So what is the solution? How can we continue travelling and exploring our world without creating so much landfill waste and a never ending carbon footprint?
1) Carry you own water bottles!
When people travel they often forget to carry their own bottles. This results in having to buy at least 2-3 plastic bottles per day. Multiply that by the number of people on the planet and you’ll understand why this is leading to disastrous after effects. Our landfills and oceans are overflowing with plastic waste (mainly disposable bottles) and it’s disrupting the balance of our Eco system.
The solution to this is pretty simple – every time you leave the house make sure you have a bottle of water with you! It’s extremely easy to get them filled up and you drastically cut down on your plastic consumption.
For those who worry about potentially falling sick with water from random places – only fill up your bottles from places which have filtered water or you can get the LifeStraw bottle!
It takes a little bit of planning and organization to get into the habit of carrying a bottle everywhere but it’s worth it trust me!
There have been times where Ive filled up my water bottles from the strangest of places ( A post office in Alleppey!!!) but who cares?! Its just water! You don’t need to feel ashamed asking for it!
What do you do when you’re travelling and you have food left on your plate? We often end up either leaving it there or we get it packed. The first option obviously leads to wastage whereas the second option results in us using plastic containers and bags. To address both problems I have started carrying around one or two empty tiffin boxes! It’s extremely easy to fill up leftover food in these! I’ve even used these at bakeries and cafés when I want to pick up some food to go!
There are just a couple of things you need to be careful of when you’re carrying these boxes –
1) Wash them regularly and air them out
2) The boxes should be absolutely air tight and shouldn’t leak in your bag!!
Look for package free options! Fruits, veggies and lots of baked goods often come without plastic J
Another very important thing is – eat local food! Local food is locally grown and produced hence this produces less of a carbon footprint than food that is not local and is imported from else where!
3) Carbon footprint – what’s that you ask!? Well –
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community. In the largest meaning this would even include things you are using – think about HOW those things were manufactured but lets keep it simple for now and think about our modes of transportation!
To reduce your carbon footprint significantly, try to use public transport, cycles or simply walk when you travel. Most places have well-connected bus routes which are hardly ever used by tourists – buses have been 90% of my mode of transport while I’ve been in South India! It’s an awesome way to meet some interesting people as well.
You can cut down on carbon emissions, you spend less time in traffic jams, it is healthier and cheaper.
If you’re exploring areas with poor or non-existent public transport consider car-pooling!
4) SAY NO TO UNNECESSARY PLASTIC (LIKE STRAWS!!)
Before I start off I would like to put forth some facts –
1) In the last 25 years, 6 million straws and stirrers were removed from beaches during annual clean ups
2) straws rank in the top 10 for marine debris
3) It takes millions of years for a single straw to break down and even when it does it releases toxic materials
4) A Lot of animals often mistake straws for food and end up consuming them which ultimately kills them
These are all proven facts and figures that made me question using straws.
Think about how many straws you might use not just while travelling but on a regular day? Cafes and restaurants today only serve drinks with straws.
So, what did I do about this?
I refuse straws wherever I can. People question the impact I’m having but we need to start somewhere!
There are times when you really need a straw . For example – when you are drinking coconut water! For times like this I have started carrying a reusable straw with me everywhere I go! Many companies today have started making straws out of plant based materials. You can also find metal, steel or glass straws.
SAY NO TO STRAWS! If you are worried about germs on the glass/bottle – they are as likely to be there as they are on the spoons/forks you’re using!
5) Laundry! What to do with all those dirty traveling clothes?!
One of the biggest problems I face as a traveler is dirty clothes.
Finding a place to wash and dry up the clothes is always a hassle! And of course – then there’s the issue of detergents.
A lot of travelers buy sachets of detergents. This leads to excessive use of plastic and not to mention, pollution.
I recently discovered eco-friendly laundry soap and powder. Even the packaging is biodegradable! This allows me to wash my clothes without leaving behind plastic and without polluting the water. These are available in every shop in Auroville and Pondicherry in case you venture out that side! J
Happy traveling! And remember – Leave a place as clean as you find it! I’m sure no one would like it if someone came to their house and left piles of trash in every corner!