Your family spends all year trying to be environmentally responsible, but it isn’t always easy to apply the same principles when you go on holiday. Where do you start? We’ve looked into ways of making travel ethical and fun for the whole family, from the big stuff like choosing your destination and how to get there, to smaller actions that help cut down on your environmental footprint. Give the green light to more sustainable holidays!
You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to enjoy a complete change of scenery – there are plenty of holiday destinations within easy reach that are well worth exploring! Staying closer to home means you don’t have to take a plane, which is a win for the environment.
You can cut down your carbon footprint by leaving the car at home and walking, cycling or taking the train. Such low-impact journeys also get you closer to nature, as you notice the changing landscapes and realise how far you’ve travelled from home! If these soft mobility options aren’t for you, perhaps you could try ride-sharing – and if you really can't avoid flying, try to make your stay as long as possible once you arrive at your destination.
You also need to think about how you’re going to get around during your holidays. Cut down on car use with some smart green planning, such as picking accommodation where you don’t need a car every day. Or can you get rides with a carpool? Are there leisure activities within walking distance? Can you do your shopping by bicycle?
A final aspect of sustainable and eco-responsible tourism is to keep your luggage to a minimum. Yup, suitcases also weigh heavily in terms of CO2! When trying to travel light, it helps to plan what you’ll need well in advance so you pack the right things. Find out what’s available on site – like a travel cot, sheets and towels – to save you lugging stuff around unnecessarily!
Eat local by trying out regional products from the local market, and look out for souvenirs made by artisans in the area. Cut down on emissions by choosing outings and activities that are close to where you’re staying. If you’re unsure, pop into the nearest Tourist Office and ask for guidance – they’ll have tons of ideas for things to do locally. They can also tell you about community associations and solidarity initiatives in the area.
And to find committed green and ethical establishments further afield that might interest you, check out their websites or social media.
Lastly, don't forget the tools where your buying decisions become part of the sharing economy, for instance the Too Good To Go app that Campanile partners with, which combats food waste by letting you order baskets of unsold food from local shops and restaurants. Campanile also works with online platform Solikend to donate the cost of your night's stay to a charity of your choice.
Who ever said that green living is dull? A sustainable holiday is a chance to put all your ethical principles into practice, in a less hectic setting than your ordinary home life.
Some good habits should always be maintained, of course, especially aiming for zero waste. Why not put together an ecological travelling kit so you don’t use any single-use plastics or throw excess stuff away? The kit could contain a reusable water bottle, solid soap and shampoo bars, reusable cutlery, and a Tupperware food container. It can be fun to make up the kits together with your children, so everyone gets to customise theirs to suit their taste.
Combatting pollution also requires a steady stock of garbage bags! Not only to collect your own rubbish in when you’re out and about, but an organised litter pickup makes a great activity in its own right. Wherever you go – to the beach, the mountains or the forest – littering can be really disastrous for the environment. You can do your bit by taking your tribe on a little ecological treasure hunt! The aim is to collect all the rubbish you find lying around in nature... And it's up to you to motivate your troops by dreaming up a good reward for the winner! Maybe a homemade treat, or a non-material gift?
As a final thought, what better way is there to protect nature than to fully appreciate how beautiful it is? Pay attention to the plants and wildlife around you and notice all the biodiversity. There’s lots of scope to organise little games with younger children to help them discover the specific characteristics of the region where you’re holidaying. For older kids you might want to call on a guide, a sure-fire way to open their eyes to all the secrets of the natural world.
So how about it – is your family up for going green on your next holiday?