Offset you summer holiday to help minimise your carbon footprint
In a world that is becoming increasingly fast paced, a holiday is the perfect way to temporarily escape; a way to unwind and relax your body and mind.
Sadly, as most of us now know, tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions and this burden on our planet is becoming more of a concern for holiday makers around the world. Carbon emissions are created when harmful carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. These toxins are mainly caused by burning fossil fuels and electricity and heat generation are the biggest contributors to human caused carbon emissions. So, when you think about how much energy is required to get a jumbo jet halfway across the world, or to build a ginormous all-inclusive style resort, you begin to understand why global tourism is becoming one of the eco-villains in the climate crisis.
Whilst some of us have vowed not to fly anymore, or committing to travel only within their own country, these options aren’t feasible or desirable for everyone. For those who still want to travel, but don’t want the eco-villain guilt, luckily, there are ways to offset your holiday emissions. From how much you pack, to where you eat, every action has the potential to lighten your load on the planet.
Our top 3 tips on how to minimise the effects of your holiday on the planet:
- Be mindful about your destination
The first thing to consider when deciding on your holiday destination is, that the further you go, the bigger your footprint. Of the 8% contribution that global tourism contributes to global warming, nearly 50% of that is due to transport. There are so many treasures just on our doorstep, that it’s not always necessary to fly thousands of miles away for beautiful scenery. However, if your heart is set on distant shores, it’s still possible to be green by choosing a sustainable destination. Each year, the sustainable tourism foundation releases a list of the 100 most sustainable places to travel to. Many of these destinations are in Europe however there are several locations across Asia, American and Australasia too.
Choosing somewhere closer to home often means that railway travel is an option, which can cut your emissions by up to 90%! For those travelling Europe, the Eurostar is a great option and so well connected. Their speedy service has an online calculator where you can work out your emissions but also how much greener you are by travelling by rail as opposed to plane. Other apps such as interrail will also show you how much emissions you save by travelling Europe by rail. If you must take a flight, your choice of airline can make a difference so be sure to compare flight emissions using Google Flights.
Once you’ve chosen the location, your accommodation is also key in determining how green your holiday is, as it accounts for 1/5 of total tourism emissions. Fortunately, as sustainability becomes more compulsory, many hotels are now making it a priority and an eco-friendly hotel or apartment is easy to find, wherever you go. There are websites out there such as Green Pearls, that partners with eco-friendly hotels that prioritise ecological awareness and practise.
- Offset your emissions
Physically offsetting your emissions is another option to consider. This is where you donate to projects that are working to remove carbon out of the atmosphere, such as renewable energy production of tree planting. 4.8 million tonnes of carbon were offset last year, proving it a popular option for those who want to do something about their footprint, however it’s a controversial topic. On one hand, people argue that offsetting sends the wrong message in that you can just buy your way out of destroying the planet, rather than trying to reduce your footprint. What’s more is that certain schemes such as aimless tree planting, can cause more problems than positivity and are sometimes accused to be greenwashing. On the other hand, smaller-scale projects run by verified organisations can be extremely effective and worth buying into. Gold Standard is a carbon offset site backed by WWF and other NGO’s, and a number of projects are run to offset carbon, that are closely monitored and regulated. However, there are other options out there which are low key and cheaper such as Trees4Travel where for only £3 you can plant a tree in one of their sustainably managed reforestation projects.
- Be a local
An easy way to think about sustainability whilst your away is to act like a local. From choosing a low-key apartment on Airbnb as opposed to a conglomerate all-inclusive hotel to eating at a local taverna as opposed to a tourist trap restaurant where the food has travelled thousands of miles to get there. Gorging and exploring local delicacies can be the best part of a trip and is so much better for the planet than seeking out foods that are familiar to you at home. If you’re eating in, head to local markets and independent shops to try and source out in season food from a local proximity. If you’re not a fan of the local delicacies, eating plant-based meals can help keep your carbon footprint down when abroad. Resources like Happy Cow allow you to find veggie restaurants all over the world, as well as restaurants that have lots of veggie options. Be mindful of the activities you take part in when abroad too.
For example, shopping in a local food market will have a much smaller impact on your emissions (as well as your wallet) then heading off on a jet ski for the afternoon. Take part in a local vineyard too rather than an open-air tourist bus, and you may feel yourself having a more authentic and enjoyable experience!
Enjoy your holiday and be a net-zero hero!
At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. It’s like Xero, for sustainability. Contact us to be part of our research group on