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According to a 2019 Sustainable Travel Report, 55% of travelers worldwide are more determined to practice sustainable travel. However, not everyone understands what green traveling really is, nor do they understand sustainable packing. There is also the possibility that travel agencies offering ecotourism are just greenwashing. So, before you delve into ecotourism, it is best to understand what green traveling is.

Defining Green Traveling

In a 2017 post on The Washington Post, Jon Bruno of International Ecotourism Society defines green or sustainable travel as creating a positive impact on communities that you visit. However, that does not necessarily mean that you should sleep in a tent and cook using a solar-powered, portable stove.

Ecotourism is all about making simple travel choices that can help lessen your carbon footprint whenever you travel. It is also a matter of recognizing whether a company is offering green travel or just greenwashing. That said, we have listed down some quick tips on how you can practice green traveling and do your part for the environment:

Zero Waste Travel Items

Here’s the thing: Traveling leads to a large carbon footprint, more so if it is an international trip. Luckily, there are things that you can do to lessen your travel’s negative impact on the environment.

For one, it is complying with your airline’s accepted carry-on luggage dimensions so you can pack light. In case you do not know, an aircraft, car, bus, or any mode of transportation, uses more fuel when it is heavy. And more fuel used means a bigger carbon footprint.

Second, make sure that you pack the following zero waste travel items:

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Reusable Bag

Carrying a reusable bag is one of the simplest things you can do to practice zero-waste living while traveling. That’s because it allows you to reduce your single-use plastic consumption. For instance, you can use it to keep the souvenirs that you bought.

You could buy a ready made bag, like this packable backpack, that’s easy and convenient, but you do not need to buy a new reusable bag. You can scour your house for an old eco bag that is large enough to keep all of your souvenirs.

Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Another way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption is to stop using shampoo and conditioners in sachets or small plastic bottles. Instead, opt for shampoo bars and conditioner bars.

What’s cool about shampoo and conditioner bars is that they do not have chemical ingredients. It can also last up to 200 washes, depending on the length of your hair. And you can also use your shampoo bar as a body soap, so that’s one item off of your packing list.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Sunscreens contain chemicals that can be harmful to our coral reefs and marine life. Hence, if you are going to the beach, be mindful of what you put in your body. We recommend that you use reef-safe sunscreen, especially for ethical snorkeling and scuba diving.

PRO TIP: Check whether your sunscreen has oxybenzone and octinoxate, as these chemicals are deemed potentially harmful to aquatic life.

Portable Solar Charger

Last but not least, bringing a portable solar charger reduced your electric consumption. All you need to do is drape it over your backpack and let it absorb some power from the sun. You can even charge your phone on the go!

If you are just staying in your accommodation, you can opt to leave your solar charger near the window so it can get as much sunlight as possible.

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Importance of Sustainable Packing

It was predicted that by 2050, tourism will be responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. Good thing, we can offset it by the choices that we make. Other than packing the zero waste travel items listed above, it is also good to practice sustainable packing. But why should you pack sustainably?

Reduce Waste Pollution

The plastic you use and throw away can contribute to the number of wastes that are already polluting our land and ocean. Hence, we recommend that you use reusable bags and water bottles, as well as shampoo bars and reef-safe sunscreen. The idea here is to use as few single-use plastics as you can.

Sure, your contribution to the environment might seem like a small thing. But imagine if a lot of us can practice sustainable travel. It could lead to tons of plastic wastes that we are able to divert from the landfill.

We wish we packed lighter for backpacking in Thailand

Save Luggage Space

Imagine bringing a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and soap. It is not just hefty, it also takes a lot of space in your luggage. Even if you can fit them in your luggage, it is less likely that you can bring it as carry-on in the airport. That’s because airlines do not allow passengers to bring liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes that are more than 100ml in your carry-on bag. So, if you want to travel and pack light, opt for small, sustainable travel items.

Save Money

The reason frequent travelers opt to pack light is that they do not want to incur additional baggage fees. In addition, bringing a reusable water bottle prevents you from buying bottled water every time you get thirsty. Instead, you can fill your BPA-free water bottle in any water refilling station.

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Reduce the impact on the places you visit with green travel

Reduces Negative Impact

Last but not least, sustainable packing allows you to reduce the negative environmental impact that you can incur while traveling. For one, it allows you to reduce the number of waste that you could have sent to the landfill. Second, you are not adding damage to aquatic life. Third, you get to travel light, which means less carbon emission from your preferred mode of transportation. Simply put, you are able to do your part while doing what you love, which is traveling.

Just because you have the time and money, that does not mean you should participate in “binge flying.” Binge flying refers to traveling more often than what is necessary. Nonetheless, there are things that you can do to help the environment while embarking on your journey. It is just a matter of making the right choices and taking the baby steps.

Geraldine Mills head shot

About the Author: Geraldine Mills is a self-confessed wanderlust from the land down under, Australia! She funds her adventures by working as a brand consultant and as a travel writer. She loves sharing the allure of backpacking and being one with nature.

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