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Sustainable travelling: keeping green whilst on the move

As summer is fast approaching, many of us are looking forward to fleeing the less-than tropical climate of Edinburgh and to making the most of our freedom from the stress of deadlines. However, jetting off to far flung destinations in order to see new places and experience some much-needed relaxation has detrimental effects on the environment, therefore it is important to take necessary steps to reduce our holiday footprints.

One measure that could be addressed is the chosen mode of transport. Though in many cases it would be quite difficult and lengthy to travel to another continent via anything other than air travel, but consider hopping on a train if you’re planning on spending some time in Europe.

As little as 3 percent of the global population boarded a plane in 2017, which accounted for approximately 2 percent of global CO2 emissions. It is therefore important that we recognise the huge disproportion here that needs to be addressed between the wealthy and the rest of the world, and act by choosing not to fly whenever is at all feasible.

When flying is the only option, it can be challenging to avoid or reduce plastic usage, especially at the airport. A lot of us are familiar with the panic of reaching security with a full water bottle, resulting in having to throw it away and buying a new plastic bottle of water post-security. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle (make sure it’s empty!) and ask one of the restaurants or bars in duty-free to fill it up with tap water once you’re through security. This way you can reduce your plastic usage whilst simultaneously saving money over time, which is always desirable on a student budget.

The struggle of fitting full bottles of toiletries in your luggage is often met with the solution of miniature travel toiletries, which usually get left behind or thrown away at the end of the holiday. A small step to reduce your waste here is to invest in some small reusable toiletry bottles; this way, you can fill them with the shampoo, body wash and other skincare that you’re already using to cut down on unnecessary plastic use. The brand Wearth sell reusable bottles that look even better than most toiletry containers and are the perfect hand-luggage size of 100ml.

In our current culture of ‘influencers’ and bloggers, we can be tempted into buying brand new items of clothing unnecessarily, especially when it comes to holiday clothes. Try buying from second-hand sources such as eBay or Depop, where you can also make some money selling on any unwanted clothes. Alternatively head to charity shops where you can pick up hidden gems or cheaper pre-existing options.

This can be more tasking when it comes to swimwear, but thankfully there are brands that hold sustainability at their core: Batoko, Fourth Element, and Weekday amongst others, have launched swimwear lines made completely from recycled material such as ocean fishing nets, PET bottles and production waste. Purchasing from brands like these helps to drive the initiatives of recycling materials that are causing such damage to our oceans  and environment.

It’s easy to stress and let down our  sustainability efforts when it comes to travelling, so it’s important to remember that every little thing we can do to tackle environmental issues can make such a difference.

Due to the universal concerns regarding the environment and sustainability, lots of brands are altering their manufacturing processes to try and ensure that our holidays in the sun can be as environmentally conscious as our lives at home. We can also put these small changes in place by planning ahead to minimise the stress we can experience under airport regulations.

Whether it’s reducing seemingly insignificant purchases at the airport or resisting a last-minute panic-purchase of minuscule hair conditioner, we can all become more conscious travellers and help create a more sustainable travelling approach.


Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

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