Traveling Consciously This Holiday Season
It’s that time of year! Time to pack up, hop on a plane or jump in the car, and make the trek to spend time with far away friends or family for the holidays. According to the Orbitz 2016 holiday survey, 72% of Americans are planning to travel at least once between Thanksgiving and New Year’s this year. So if you’re in that 72%, whether you’re headed across the state or across the country, here are some ways that you can travel with the least amount of negative impact on the earth:
Pack light. The more weight your plane, train, or other automobile has to carry, the more gasoline is used and the more greenhouse gas is released into the air. Just pack what you actually need and no more!
Skip the tiny travel-size shampoo bottles from the drug store. Instead, get some reusable containers that you can use over and over again. Or, just use what the hotel supplies or ask if you can borrow from the friend or family member you’re staying with (and pay them back of course).
Ethical & Eco-Friendly Luggage
The most ethical, eco-friendly option is always to reuse. So if you can, use luggage you already have or borrow from someone you know. But if you’re in the market for new luggage, here are some eco-friendly and ethically made picks:
The Patagonia Headway Wheeled Duffel Bag. This duffel is made out of environmentally friendly materials in a factory that practices safe working conditions and pays its workers fairly. Patagonia is committed to transparency and is one company that’s leading the way in proving that brands can be sustainable, profitable, and ethical all at the same time.
The MEC Duffel Bag. MEC values ethics, sustainability, and quality. They’re also a co-op, which means that ownership is shared among members so that profit is balanced. MEC has quite a large selection of backpacks, duffels, and other travel gear.
The Pike from Krochet Kids. Krochet Kids is a non-profit that employs people in Uganda and Peru in order to provide them with work, education, healthcare, and more. The goal is to holistically equip and empower individuals and communities living in poverty while creating high quality products you’ll love.
The Weekender from Matt & Nat. Matt & Nat makes beautiful, vegan bags made out of recycled materials in order to have the least impact possible on their earth. They also have a close relationship with their factory owners, ensuring transparency and integrity during every step of production.
Because taking off and leaving requires a tremendous amount of fuel, try to fly direct when you can.
Take an empty, reusable water bottle to the airport so you don't have to buy a plastic one when you get thirsty while you’re waiting to board. Fill it up at a fountain after you get through security.
These days, there’s almost no reason to print a ticket. Save a piece of paper by downloading your boarding pass on your phone, either via email or your airline’s mobile app.
If you’re taking a road trip, consider renting a hybrid instead of driving your own car. Decline any “free upgrades,” and instead choose the smallest car possible. Before you leave, download an app like PlugShare, which will help you locate all of the charging stations on your route, decreasing your dependence on gasoline.
If you decide to take your own car, there are some steps you can take to make sure it is as fuel-efficient as possible. Get your oil changed and make sure your tires are properly inflated, which will help your car to run as efficiently as possible.
Or Better Yet: Take the Bus or Train!
In general, traveling by train or bus is the most environmentally friendly option when compared to driving or flying. Depending on where you live and to where you’re traveling, it might be quite difficult… but it’s worth looking into! Plus, it’s usually much less expensive as well.
Offset Your Carbon Emissions
No matter what form of transportation you choose to take, consider offsetting your carbon emissions by using a tool like ClimateCare. You can calculate what the carbon footprint of your trip is based on form of travel and mileage, and then donate to an environmental organization accordingly. Although carbon offsetting has caused some controversy, if you’re going to be traveling anyway, you might as well give back to the earth at the same time, right!?
Before You Leave
Make sure your home isn’t using up unnecessary energy while you’re away. Because electronics still use electricity while they’re plugged in (even if they’re off), be sure to unplug everything. Adjust your heat or AC accordingly as well.
While You’re There
Go about your conscious living as you would at home. Turn the lights off when you’re not using them. Purchase locally-grown food when possible. Recycle and reuse whenever you can.
This also might be a great opportunity to have conversations with the people you’re visiting about what a conscious lifestyle means to you and why it’s so important. So don’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities to share your motivations and experiences. Who knows - maybe Aunt Karen will be curious to learn about how she can make the world a better place by taking little steps to change her lifestyle too!