A Quick Guide To 'Greening Up' Your Summer Holiday
Heading away this Summer? Starting to feel guilty about your holiday impact on the environment? Fear not - I’ve got a few tips for you to soften your footprint and ease your conscience to ensure you still enjoy that well earned Summer break! Obviously the most eco friendly way to holiday is to just not, or to put a tent up in your back garden. But seeing as this whole ‘sustainable living’ thing is very new to a lot of us, Summer holidays would have been booked months ago, and it’s also not necessarily an area of your life you’d consider worthy of ‘greening up’. Recycling your waste, buying a reusable coffee cup and taking your own bags to the supermarket are becoming second nature. So starting by just incorporating these into your annual holiday can still make a difference! But I’ve been gathering a bit more info on other ways to make a small difference…..
First up, if you’ve not yet booked a break the consider a ‘staycation’. More and more people are opting to holiday within the UK for many reasons - Brexit currently being pretty up there! Websites such as Pitchup, Canopy and Stars, AirBnb and Booking.com are great for sussing out a range of UK based accommodation within a range of budges and are all great for last minute deals! If you’re into your camping there are an increasing number of campsites offering compost toilets and solar powered showers. I get that this isn’t for everyone, but I can confirm (even after a heavy day of wedding drinking and a long night of toilet trips) that compost toilets genuinely aren’t as horrendous as they sound!
Your physical travelling impact could be the most damaging part of your holiday, so try to walk/cycle or take public transport where possible. So many cities and popular tourist destinations now offer cycle hire and it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a car! BUT if you do require a motor to get around, why not enquire about electric or hybrid options? They will cost a little more, but the environmental impact will be less! Also look at whether or not you really need a car. Airport bus transfers are super cheap and also run so frequently if you can cope without a car for a week or 2! Also if you’re travelling in a group, look at how many vehicles you really need - perhaps you can condense or even hire one vehicle between the whole party? If you haven’t yet booked flights, try to book direct rather than those that include stops. And take as little luggage with you as possible - heavier luggage = a heavier plane = higher environmental impact. If you can’t manage with just hand luggage (some airlines allow more than others), perhaps share a suitcase with a friend or family member?
Wherever you stay - be it a hotel, apartment, villa, cottage, campsite, boat or cabin, be sure to check out the waste/recycling programme in place. Some countries are better than others, and you may have to ask some questions to find out where the nearest recycling points are. If you end up in accommodation that has no recycling system in place - especially hotels or holiday complexes - ask why not? And if you feel the need to write it in the ‘suggestions box’ when you leave, don’t be afraid!
If you stay in accommodation that offers laundry services, try to avoid using them. You can’t garuntee the processes and product they use aren’t harmful to the environment. Also avoid leaving your towels in the designated ‘leave here to be washed’ area unless entirely necessary. I know it’s a lovely holiday luxury, but I definitely don’t use a fresh towel every day at home! Try to shower and not bath - it uses less water! And when you leave your room/apartment/villa be sure to turn off all the lights. I know that a lot of hotel rooms do this automatically when you remove your keycard, but not all do.
No matter where you’re holidaying, do a bit of research before you go into restaurants and cafes in the local area. Try and find out which ones serve fresh, seasonal, local produce. It’s kinder to the planet it will most definitely be a lot tastier! It’s also a great way to sample local delicacies! As well as eating out, apply this rule to shopping - visit the local markets, green grocers, butchers and bakeries instead of heading straight to the supermarkets. Remember to pack a couple of reusable shopping bags too - or dig around in cupboards if you’re staying in a villa or apartment. We tend to find shopping bags from previous holidaymakers tucked away somewhere! Also TRY to avoid buying bottled water! Depending on where you’re traveling to, the tap water may well be perfectly safe to drink. Obviously do a bit of research before you go, and be sure to pack your reusable water bottles!
If you head out into the countryside, along the coast or into the forest, be sure to stick to the paths. Heavy footfall off piste can cause significant damage to natural habitats, and may even put you in danger! Also remember - ‘Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs’.
Basically a lot of ‘green rules’ from home still apply when you’re on holiday. Pop a few reusable essential in your bags - water bottles, shopping bags, metal or bamboo straws, face pads etc. Try not to go out and buy a whole new holiday wardrobe. I’m as guilty as anyone else for wanting a new bikini or two for my holiday BUT I’ve got a drawer full of perfectly good ones at home. If you’re in need of a few holiday essentials, try sites such as eBay and apps like Depop. There’s so much stuff on there that’s hardly been worn and it’ll also save you so much money! For holiday items that NEED to be purchased new before you go - like suncream! - try to find an environmentally friendly alternative. The Ethical Superstore is great for a huge range of eco beauty products! If possible avoid buying travel sized toiletries. If you can take full sized products, or opt for solid soaps and shampoo bars. If you’re restricted by airline rules or space, buy smaller reusable bottles that you can use next year too. I’ve got a set of 5 small bottles that came in a clear, zip wash bag that I’ve had for about 10 years and it comes on every holiday with me! You can find them in Boots, Superdrug and most supermarkets.
Last but by no means least, enjoy your holiday! A lot of us work hard all year round and this small window of rest is something we really look forward to, and can be a real help with getting through tougher days at work! We’re all allowed to holiday - just keep your mind open to small ways you can ensure your break is a little greener this year, but don’t let it swamp your time away!