How to go green when you travel

As the world celebrates International Tourism Day this week, here’s how you can become a green traveller on your next vacation

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. By 2030, the World Travel & Tourism Council expects India to become the fourth largest travel and tourism economy behind China, USA and Germany.

While tourism is a major engine for employment creation and income opportunities, it can have a negative impact on the environment if businesses do not incorporate green practices. A huge influx of travellers can gradually deplete the beauty, uniqueness, character, environment, resources and social coherence of a tourist destination over time.

Building a sustainable ecosystem, is at present a crucial agenda in the travel and hospitality industry. Public and private stakeholders are working together to find viable solutions in the long-term interests of destinations, the tourism sector and the visitor economy. However, it is also important for visitors to be aware of sustainability and factor it in when deciding on holiday destinations, accommodation, places to visit, modes of transport and so much more.

Here are some things to keep in mind in order to become an efficient green traveller….

Choose low carbon emission transport systems

Explore the countryside on foot or on a bicycle to preserve the environment

Did you know that aeroplanes emit hazardous gases into the atmosphere which contribute to climate change? According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation, only two round trips from Mumbai to Delhi can generate about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases your car emits over a year!

Isn’t that something to think about? So, for short distances, opt to travel by train rather than by air and, once you get to your destination, set about exploring the countryside on foot or on a bicycle.

Pack light

The weight and amount of luggage you carry on a flight contributes to the overall weight of the plane and how much fuel it will burn, which in turn impacts the amount of CO2 emitted. Packing a smaller bag curbs the emissions output.

Choose a carbon neutral resort

It is best to choose a carbon neutral resort for your next vacation

Look for certified green hotels that are working towards zero waste to landfill certifications, use renewable energy, use environment - friendly products and offer ways and means for guests to be part of green initiatives.

Some resorts like Club Mahindra implement robust sustainability programmes across their resorts in India and abroad. Some of the key areas that they have been working on include Carbon Footprint Measurement, the Conservation of Biodiversity, Alternative sources of Energy, Water Conservation and Community Development. 

Under Energy Conservation, it is important to develop various environment-friendly initiatives that include the installation of solar panels, heat pumps for hot and cold water, biogas plants, organic waste converters and electric vehicles.

Tree plantation activities in order to increase green cover is also an eco-friendly drive. Make sure that drinking water is provided in glass bottles in the rooms. This helps eliminate the use of plastic bottles.

The toiletries provided should be eco-friendly and the packaging should be biodegradable too. In some resorts, organic food is also provided that is grown in-house. These practices help promote ‘Responsible Tourism’.

Choose green activities

Engage in nature-friendly activities on a holiday like hiking or nature walks

Engage in nature-friendly activities while on vacation. Look for resorts are located near the ocean or with scenic nature trails. Green activities that one could consider are nature walks, biking, and hiking. These activities reduce your carbon footprint and are a great way to explore the destination you are visiting.

Think local 

Buy local merchandise when you travel

While travelling, support local businesses to allow the communities around to reap the benefits of tourism.

Purchase organic fruits and vegetables from local farmers, dine at restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients or buy souvenirs from local artisans instead of souvenir stands. These options will allow you to experience the culture and history of the destination you are visiting.

Travelling green may take a little extra effort initially, but it will soon become second nature for you. These extra steps you take can enhance every vacation and will also leave a positive impression on the place you visit.