Each year, people traveling in the United States generate the equivalent of 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. A 2018 report by Nature Climate Change found that tourism accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon emissions fell sharply during COVID19 due to quarantines and travel restrictions, but it won’t be for too long as more states ease restrictions. As we get ready to either drive, ride or fly ourselves to places in the future, we can educate ourselves on ways to make our future travel a little more environmentally friendly.
If you’re curious about your carbon emissions per flight, head to a carbon emissions calculator from sites like Offsetters. Consider purchasing carbon offsets for your air flights, and research other methods available for shorter journeys. Rail travel is consistently one of the lowest emitters. Cruises, on the other hand, are one of the largest. The International Council on Clean Transportation recently reported that even the most efficient cruise ships emit between three to four times more CO2 per passenger per kilometer than an airplane.
Research The Culture & Tourism Climate
Destinations can become victims of their own success in terms of tourism. Research the destination you are traveling to in order to learn where you should not go, what you should not touch, and what is going on in that area. Try to educate yourself on the local customs and culture. Being a responsible tourist starts with being a respectful one.
About 75% of animal attractions around the world actually perpetuate wildlife cruelty, according to a study from Oxford. Do your research on businesses and ethical companies offering animal experiences before booking. World Animal Protection has a helpful guide if seeing animals is an important part of your travel.
Book Lodging & Tours Carefully
When booking accommodations, look for places to stay that use renewable energy, have effective waste management systems, have recycling capabilities or were built using renewable materials.
Book tours through companies that have environmentally-friendly policies, such as supporting indigenous people & employing local guides.
When packing your bags, bring reusable items like water bottles, utensils and bags to minimize plastic waste. If you’re going into the ocean, ensure you have reef-safe sunscreens or consider rash guards or wetsuits. Purchase eco-friendly toiletries like bamboo toothbrushes and eco-friendly shampoos or shampoo bars to keep your waste and impact to a minimum.