Tourism causes 8% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
Were you aware of that fact?
It was confirmed by a study in 2018.
Tourism pollutes more than the global construction sector.
The study authors even believed that tourism could threaten the targets of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Three elements were revealed as the main problems – transport, shopping, and food.
So what can we, travellers at 50+ do to make our trips as sustainable as possible?
Here are some recommendations.
Which, by the way, obviously apply to any age!
40 Helpful tips to minimise your environmental impact when traveling at 50+
1. Try to carry solid or powder beauty products with zero residue packaging, such as toothpaste tablets, solid soap bars, deodorant bars or shampoo bars. They are more durable, multifunctional, spill-proof and much easier to get through airport security.
2. Make your own toiletries. It’s easier, cheaper, more fun and you can create whatever you want. If you really want to transport liquids, transport them easily in reusable bottles.
3. Always think “multipurpose”. Baking soda can be used as a detergent, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent and more. Castile soap is another wonder, which can also be used for personal care as well as a detergent and cleaning agent.
4. Stay away from plastic and replace it with bamboo. Use a sustainable, biodegradable and non-toxic bamboo brush.
5. Avoid buying disposable products such as make-up removers and cotton buds, disposable razors, etc. They will all end up going straight to the landfill.
6. For your shaving needs: Do you really need to shave when you travel? Why don’t you keep a beard? Who doesn’t like a good beard today! If you prefer not to, go for non-disposable razors.
7. Pack only the essentials, as I explained in this article about “the minimalist suitcase”. Take clothes that can be easily combined, layered, used repeatedly and can also be washed quickly and easily with just a little soap, hung to dry and be clean and ready to use in a few hours.
8. Don’t use clothes dryers: they generate a tremendous waste of energy, and they are terrible for your clothes. Hanging your clothes outdoors infuses them with negative ions (the good ones) instead of positive ions (the bad ones).
9. If you need to add or subtract clothing, buy and donate it in thrift stores. Textile waste is a worldwide problem that we should all be more aware of, especially when textiles can be recycled or reused.
10. Travel light. It is easier and less demanding on your mind and body. The less space you have, the less temptation to fill it.
11. If you can (it’s not always possible), travel only with hand luggage. If you check your bags in, they’ll be issued an adhesive label that cannot be recycled.
12. Don’t print any travel documents or tickets unless it’s absolutely necessary (it almost never is anymore). Always travel with electronic tickets. Most airlines, bus, train and subway lines have applications that allow you to buy your tickets on your Smartphone.
13. Don’t force your suppliers to print receipts. If you are asked if you want a receipt after buying something, say no. You don’t want to generate garbage, nor do you want to touch that toxic paper covered in carcinogenic BPA.
14. Don’t buy or carry books, magazines or newspapers. Download your reading material in digital format.
15. Try not to fly whenever possible. You can use an app like Rome2Rio to find out all possible alternative transportation alternatives by sea or land.
16. If you have no choice but to fly, compensate for the carbon you use on your flight. Anything you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is a step in the right direction.
17. Use your phone or tablet’s headphones to connect to your airline’s entertainment system during the flight: don’t buy or use the disposable plastic headphones provided.
18. Avoid airplane waste products, including mini snacks. Ask them to le you use your own glass or bottle. Don’t ask for ice because you’ll be using an additional cup. Don’t use disposable straws and napkins.
19. Eat in restaurants or places where they serve food on real plates and cutlery (instead of disposable plastic plates and cutlery), or in your accommodation.
20. Reject additional packing papers, napkins or containers.
21. If you are going to buy food to go, try to find establishments that use environmentally friendly or recyclable utensils. If a restaurant doesn’t use recyclable or sustainable items, kindly tell them it’s a great idea. And, never, never accept styrofoam containers! It’s an evil material impossible to recycle and decompose! Pure garbage!
22. Travel with a spork or a set of bamboo utensils so you never have to use plastic disposables.
23. You can use a reusable container to take away leftovers from restaurants or buy in bulk at a store.
24. Carry a reusable napkin or a small absorbent towel or cloth to be used instead of napkins or to wrap up snacks or food.
25. Use a reusable water bottle without plastic. You can fill it at drinking water sources in most transport stations. But never buy bottled water!
26. A simple mason glass jar can be an excellent alternative for drinking, storing snacks, food, nuts, beverages, toiletries or to take leftovers home. And because it is heat resistant, it can also be used for hot coffee and tea.
27. Recycle and compost everything you can. Use public recycling bins or ask where recycling stations are located.
28. Always use a reusable shopping bag. Alternatively, you can use your backpack or pack a lightweight and foldable handbag.
29. Buy at local farmers and farmers markets or in natural grocery stores to get the best seasonal produce and to buy bulk nuts and cereals in bulk.
30. Try to eat and drink in establishments that strive to use mostly local products. Drink local beers. Support coffees that roast their own coffee beans. Local, local, local! That’s the keyword.
31. If you can, eat vegetarian or vegan. A plant-based diet significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
32. Walk as much as possible. Zero emissions! In addition, it is good for you. And you will get a more authentic and global travel experience.
33. Bicycles and motorised bicycles are interesting alternatives that also keep you healthy.
34. When you can’t walk, take public transportation whenever you can.
35. When you can, chose homes / aparthotels over hotels. You’ll be able to recycle, compost, make your own products and, cook your own meals.
36. If you decide to stay in a hotel, let them know that you don’t want your towels or bedding washed every day.
37. Ecotourism and Ecoglamping are also interesting alternatives that will bring you closer to nature with whatever level of sophistication you prefer.
38. Always consider your consumption. Conserve water. Turn off the lights. Reduce heating or air conditioning. Avoid the dishwasher, microwave and clothes dryer. You don’t need them.
39. Don’t buy souvenirs. Use your camera to save your memories. Or learn a local recipe and give it to your loved ones!
40. Spend your money on experiences, not objects. Experiences will make you happy not having to carry objects from A to B!