As students and travelers, it’s too easy to absentmindedly add to the growing trash problems facing nations around the world. Thankfully, by following seven simple steps, we can explore the world without adding to the mountains of waste accumulating in our oceans and landfills. Whether home or abroad, you can help break the cycle of pollution that’s distorting our landscapes worldwide. These practical and painless steps are a great way to become more aware of our impact on the environment.
BREAK THE CYCLE OF POLLUTION IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS:
Get reusable items to help you through your daily routines without leaving a giant carbon footprint. Bring these everywhere you go. The reusable essentials are: a stainless steel water bottle, a tote for shopping, food containers and utensils. For green bonus points, purchase or obtain these items secondhand — for double green bonus points, choose items made from recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials!
With a reusable essentials kit handy, you’ll be prepared to explore your beautiful destinations without leaving behind a trail of garbage. You’ll have everything you need for a spontaneous picnic in a local park or a hike through the countryside, and you’ll be ready to hop a bus or train for any spur-of-the-moment trip with friends without relying on snacks and refreshments in disposable packaging.
One of the greatest ways to minimize your carbon footprint is by creating zero waste. Simply refuse any disposable items and single-use plastic. Choose to carry items from the store or use your shopping tote instead of taking a plastic bag. Think twice about taking a coffee or food to go — unless you have your reusable essentials on hand to avoid disposable containers and packaging.
As you purchase souvenirs and sample local fare, be prepared to refuse disposable and single-use items in the local language. Learn to say or write down:
- No thank you, I don’t need a _____ (bag, container, spoon, mug, etc.).
- I have a reusable _____ (bag, container, spoon, mug, etc.) for that, please.
Consider the impact your daily routines have on the environment. Think about ways to reduce your energy consumption like taking shorter showers, using public transportation, turning off lights, washing clothes in cold water and air drying laundry.
Traveling tip: Pack your suitcase with good travel clothes — a few wardrobe staples made of no iron, quick dry materials coordinated to mix and match saves the wise traveler time and energy on the go.
4. SHOP LOCAL
Many foods travel more than 1,000 miles before reaching your plate. By shopping local and organic, you help save energy and reduce the emissions released into the air during food production and transportation.
What better time to shop local than when you are traveling? Ask the locals to find out where to eat and shop to get the best and freshest regional products and specialties.
5. BUY RECYCLED
Buying recycled items helps to reduce our carbon footprints. When shopping, look for “recycled” or “post-consumer” products. You can get anything from sleeping bags to glass containers made with recycled materials.
Traveling tip: Try to buy recycled when purchasing souvenir and gift items. You may even find local artisans specializing in “upcycled” products, adding purpose and beauty to items that might otherwise be discarded.
6. USE BIODEGRADABLE
By using biodegradable products, you help minimize waste generation. These products break down in the natural world instead of ending up in a landfill to outlast us all.
Traveling tip: Going green may not be popular in some travel destinations, but tourists, like consumers everywhere, have a lot of power through how they choose to spend money. Express your preference for biodegradable products. Ask merchants to use and carry biodegradable products — if they don’t already — to influence future purchasing decisions in favor of biodegradable.
7. SPREAD THE WORD
Practice these steps to go green by example — and encourage others to do the same. If people ask you about your choice to combat pollution, let them know why it’s important and share these seven simple steps to help them make a difference, too!
Traveling tip: Don’t be shy about doing the right thing. If a local person or fellow traveler questions your green habits, let them know that the beauty of your travel destination and the health of the planet is something you value enough to avoid creating unnecessary pollution.