In this age of globalism, we’re all more connected than ever in so many ways. We see events from around the world in real time through our 24-hour news cycles. We can connect instantaneously with someone thousands of miles away. Our ability to see and hear about even the smallest aspects of daily life in other countries to gain understanding about their experience is greater than ever, yet often our perceived divisions are starker than they’ve ever been. Sustainable travel solutions might be the key to bringing us closer together.
In the days before the world wide web, we had to make an effort to see the world. We had to pack our suitcase and climb aboard a plane, train or boat to go to the places that intrigued us, meet the people that live there, and learn about their culture and their lives. Now we can view the summit of Mt. Everest in virtual reality as if we were standing there ourselves. Technology is amazing but knowing what it looks like, even in great detail, isn’t the same as braving the cold, feeling the wind, exerting the effort it takes to climb to the top and earn that view. There is still so much to be gained and learned from travel.
Getting out there
The age old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you know them or judge them remains true today. Traveling to a place and experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, beauty or blight that exists there is maybe more important now than ever in our quest to make our world a healthier more sustainable place. Not to mention, whole species are disappearing from the planet at an incredibly rapid rate. Entire ecosystems are vanishing, and many of us want to see these environments and animals before they’re gone.
Sustainable travel solutions
So if travel is good for humanity, what do we do about what it does to our planet? We want to see the world and all it has to offer, but we know that every time we step aboard a plane, we’re contributing to the problem. It’s a conundrum, but there are sustainable travel solutions we can use to lessen our impact.
The obvious choice is to travel less – to pick and choose when we will be taking a plane somewhere very carefully, but that isn’t always possible or desirable. So what are some other options?
The solution starts at home
For starters, we can consider our overall carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint includes much more than your travel. If you are taking planes to far off places, you can offset some of that by being as carbon neutral as possible when you’re home. Walk or ride your bike to places around town whenever possible. Reduce or eliminate food waste. Take steps to make your home as sustainable as possible by using less water, setting your air conditioning a few degrees higher, or stop using all single use plastic. There are so many easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home that require nothing more than your commitment to do so.
You can even consider enjoying some vacation time, right in your own backyard. Staycations have become a popular way to have a little R & R as well as enjoy and learn more about your local scene. Check out our 2017 article on the subject.
Carbon offsets for the win
Another way to reduce your travel carbon footprint is to purchase carbon offsets. Whether it’s through planting a tree or paying to contribute to updating an old coal plant with newer, better technology that reduces emissions – there are so many ways we can help remove carbon from the atmosphere by intentionally investing our money. There are many companies out there that offer this service, and it’s a good option to reduce your carbon footprint when others aren’t possible.
And finally we can intentionally reduce our footprint when we arrive at our travel destination. Take public transportation. Stay in the sustainably certified hotel. Eat only locally grown food from local restaurants and not chains. There are many choices we can make that contribute to a more sustainable future.
We know that travel is good for the mind and the soul, we just want to make sure it’s good for the health of the planet as well.
For more information on reducing your travel carbon footprint check out: Shrink Your Travel Footprint.
Meredith, a former professional in the software industry, has come to the Mrs. Green’s World team through an unlikely journey that took her through the world of non-profit management and on to becoming a part of MGW. Helping people understand climate change and what we can do about it – is very near and dear to her heart. She lives in Tucson with her family and too many pets.