Did you know that on average European traveller causes a 10 tons of CO2 emissions a year and the American one 19 tons, according to Conde Nast Traveler! That’s not the way to travel sustainably. I do not need to tell you that that is terrible for our environment. After all, it’s what you came here to see, not dying nature or smoggy towns. So then you go ahead and pay a little extra to help alleviate your footprint and relieve your conscience. Well done. But do you think I’m impressed? What about all the other things where you are messing with nature? Are you even aware of them?
Travel Sustainably: Litter
Bam! You just killed a kangaroo. Well done. I couldn’t believe my eyes when someone from my travel group threw an apple cone out of the bus window. We were in Australia and crossing the vast outback and all I could see was the apple cone. Gone. Possibly being deadly. “It’s just an apple cone. I throw them away at home all the time. They are natural, it’s fine.”
It should go without saying that what you take into nature, you should take away with you, be it coke cans or recycled tissues. Or apple cones. But apple cones ARE natural, so what’s the deal? Did you know that kangaroo tummies are not used to apples? Apples do not naturally grow in Australia. They are introduced. And we all know what introduced species have done with Australia. They wreaked havoc and set the natural balance askew (see rabbits and desertification in Western Australia). And apple cones make kangaroos develop a cancer and they die painfully. To me, that is a pretty big deal.
Travel Sustainably: Wild animals
There I was, sitting on a nice little bench by a pretty little temple on a quaint island in Japan. The weather was decent, my day adventurous and I was happily munching on my chocolate chip cookies. I totally deserved them after having travelled the country for hours, hopping from trains to buses and ferries and now needed my energy fix. But suddenly, I was surrounded by doe eyes. And they were not cute with me.
I jumped up and held my bag of cookies up triumphantly, thinking I got the upper hand and my greedy companions would leave. But I was wrong. The deer in front of me laid its hoofs on my chest and tried climbing up my body. I was pressed against the wall and couldn’t move. A nearby security guard had to rescue me, but the deer came back, snapping after my paper map and biting off a big chunk. I quickly swallowed the rest of my cookies and went for the hills.
Moral of the story: do not think about feeding animals in the wild because if people do, the animals will get so used to expecting it, that they become aggressive if they don’t get fed. Also, it might slowly kill them as we have seen. That’s not the way to travel sustainably.
Travel Sustainably: Sunscreen
Please don’t wear sunscreen, they said. But it’s so bright outside and even though I normally am way too cool for putting sticky white creamy streaks on my super tan arms, I might just do it. Who are these people telling me off anyway? And there are no signs, anyway. A little sunscreen never heard no one. And off you hop into X, one of the most stunning natural pools in Australia with a view that takes your breath away.
But you didn’t see the oily film floating next to the slightly off-colour rocks. And you didn’t see that plants and fish will slowly be poisoned from the chemicals. Generally, you should not be wearing any chemical products when you are dipping into natural waters. Even perfume might be bad.
Travel Sustainably: Water
When I was in the South Australian outback on the Eyre Peninsula, I stayed at Coodlie Park, which is proud of its self suffiency and environmentally friendly focus. The outdoor sleeping huts and shower facilities are all produced by WWOOFERs on site and made from recycled wood. (I did help scratch and realised I am utterly terrible and a wuss at labourer work). But the highlight with guests are the bucket showers.
You have to fill the buckets with precious rain water yourself and then fill up the shower bucket. The more water you want, the more you have to work for it. I challenged myself and actually made do with ¾ of a bucket! It opens your eyes about just how much water you are actually wasting. So do not ever let water taps run when you don’t need them to.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift by now. So to not bombard you with any more of my stories, I have put together these and 14 more tips in a FREE printable infographic with more tips on how to travel more sustainably, which is not good for nature or your conscience, but also your wallet (click on the image to get access). In case you do like to hear more random and/or embarrassing travel stories, let me know in the comments and I’ll write more of them.