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11 easy eco tourism steps to start today…

Updated: 11th February 2016

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Travel and all that it encompasses is not the most environmentally friendly of affairs.

We all need to play our part in protecting the future of our planet. Sure, it’s a big task and way beyond the average persons means to make a huge change to the world, but don’t fret. It’s a piece of piss to make an impact and reduce your footprint. How?

Cut down the plastic

In many parts of the world, if you ask someone why they don’t recycle it will be more than a language barrier you have. For a lot of people, concerns rest more on their next meal or making enough to survive. For us, the tourist, however, it’s a different situation. Easy ways to cut the trash are keeping a plastic bag on you, not using the mini condiments at breakfast, carrying full-size toiletries instead of using the hotels and drinking coffee in the store, not on the go. These are all easy steps towards becoming a zero waste traveller.

Refill your water

Buy yourself a refillable water bottle with a filter before your trip and get it topped up on the go or from the breakfast buffet. I can’t imagine the millions of bottles that are emptied in seconds ever year and then burned into the atmosphere. Once you start, you will be amazed how many places will fill it up for you.

Offset your flying

Whenever we fly we are setting off heaps of carbon into the air. Luckily, our good friends the tree are able to turn this back into healthy air again. Sadly, with deforestation, this is getting harder. Most airlines now offer you the chance when booking to offset your journey but if not sponsor a tree planting group or similar.

Don’t change the linen

Crisp white sheets are a guilty pleasure when travelling, but make the most of them on night one and then don’t get them changed unless they really need to be. Towels, same rules. Slow travel also helps this massively instead of moving hotel every night plus you get to soak up the local culture much more.

Walking is the sightseeing king

It is so easy in a new place to jump in a taxi if you aren’t sure where you are going or buy a bus pass. Download Google Maps which lets you track where you are even without a data connection and get your best walking shoes on. Not only are you helping the planet you are also much likely to discover those little-hidden gems you would otherwise miss. Better still, scrap the map and get totally lost.

Skip the Chopstick

It is estimated that 40 billion disposable chopsticks are used each year in China alone. That is one hell of a waste of all those trees you have just planted. It might not be as exotic or cool to ask for a fork but you are helping cut down on this crazy waste of the worlds natural resources.

Buy Local

It goes without saying anything that has been ‘imported’ has travelled one heck of a way to get to you. The local brands might not be quite what you are used to but they do the job whilst you do good. You are also more likely to be helping the local economy rather than giving your dosh to a multi-million dollar company in a different country. Good work!

Grab some trash

Litter is a killer, especially when it gets into the ocean. If we all just grab one plastic bottle or piece of trash a day from the beach or wherever our adventuring takes us it is a simple task that will go a long way in cleaning up this world we live in. Forget the ‘it’s not my job’ approach and makes an easy win for the environment.

Kill the Aircon

Sure, you might not be paying the bill but the amount of electricity that running air-con costs is insane. In monsoon season in Indonesia I know I had it glued on, but flip the switch as often as you can.

Invest in a local solution

Heard of Kiva? It’s a loan solution to help entrepreneurs in lands that might not have access to typical loans. For as little as $25 you can keep recycling the money you put in to make a real impact and start businesses and dreams for people. Find those who have real solutions for problems their home place faces and give some money to make an impact.

Educate Others

It is easy to forget and not realise when you are in a new country that the infrastructure might not be what you are used to at home. Slip it into a conversation and help others know what tiny steps they can take to help us keep this beautiful planet clean, what’s easier than having a chat?

13 replies
  1. Sydney says:

    Dear Dan,
    Hello! I’m a student at NYU (New York University), this is my third year attending. I’m attending Law school currently to become an employment lawyer, and love it! I’ve loved traveling with My friends and my parents. We travel every chance we get! I love reading your articles and seeing you living my dream. I’m doing every little thing in my capability, I’ve been reducing my use of plastic and other bad sources, and habits I struggled with. I want to become someone who can travel knowing they’re helping the earth, so thank you Dan for the inspiration! :)

  2. Grace Miller says:

    Dear Dan,
    I agree with your ideas. My husband and I have been fortunate to be able to travel extensively.
    One thing that really bothers me these days are companies that advertise that they are part of some “eco tourism” group. They even give out certificates. One of the worst offenders are helicopter tour companies. How can flying around in a machine that gets less than 4 mpg and carries only 2 to 3 people be eco friendly? They are also noise machines that disturb the people and wildlife that live in the areas.

    • Daniel James (Dan Flying Solo) says:

      Yes, indeed – it’s getting harder and harder to tell who is legit trying to make a difference. It’s the same with hotels and saving towels often, they still wash them even if you ask them not too or follow the rules. It’s something personally I know I need to improve on vastly next year, and flying less is my first focus!

  3. andrewkevinscott says:

    Hey, Dan–thanks for sharing these! I TRY to leave the places I visit better than they were when I left, but it’s nice to read some practical tips for doing so. I had never thought about brining a fork as opposed to using chop sticks. I’ll definitely give that a try in the future! And yes, it’s quite eye-opening when you visit a country that has different recycling norms than you do (either for good or bad).

  4. travel4lifeblog says:

    Hi Dan, thank you again for sharing a great article with us. We try as much as we can to follow some of your tips when we travel. However, we never really thought about avoiding using disposable chopsticks! 40 billions of waste each year is a lot of waste! Thanks for educating us on that one! In January 2017, we are taking a year off and we will probably spend 6 months in South America then we will probably go to Europe . We will make sure to keep all your travel tips in mind during that time! Keep up the great work Dan.
    Patrick and Cecile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com

    • danflyingsolo says:

      Hey Partick and Cecile!

      Thanks for reading – I know, its a crazy figure right! That sounds like one incredible year you have planned – hopefully our paths will cross at some point :)

      Safe travels!

  5. Katie D. says:

    I hadn’t really thought about the chopstick thing! I lived in Asia for a few years and thinking back on all the takeout…. yeesh! On the flip, carrying a pair of plastic, reusable chopsticks would be super easy- they’re flat and easily portable.

    • danflyingsolo says:

      It’s something I didn’t think about for a while and then when I saw that figure It really made me think. Thats a super handy tip, wouldn’t take up much space at all to keep some on you! Safe travels :)

  6. Tag Along Deb says:

    These are all very easy, practical steps to take. It’s the amount of air travel we do that concerns me the most. Not sure how much those carbon offsets really help. Every step counts, though.

    • danflyingsolo says:

      I couldn’t agree more, it is the most worrying side effect of travel. I went vegetarian which helps a bit, the carbon offsetting is certainly never going to be an equal solution so anything else that can help is needed. Personally, my travels have been a bit erratic the last six months and instead of slow travel I have been flying more. Hoping to cut that down this year… A tricky one! Thanks for stopping by :)

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