It’s (finally) summertime, and the living’s easy. We’re hopping in cars, on trains, and planes on summer Fridays, BBQ-ing in the backyard, and picnicking on the beach. It’s the season of doing, as we all try to squeeze the most out of these short months. It’s also the season when it’s easy to forget how much of an impact our actions are having on the planet, as we grab water bottles to cool down, increase our mileage and eat outdoors (hello, plastic cutlery).
As a team, we’re very committed to being mindful of living consciously and however we can, behaving more sustainably. In partnership with our friends at Soludos, we came up with a few tips (and crowdsourced from some experts) for traveling – and living – more consciously this summer.
1. Check your packaging – Whether you are buying some fruit to snack on at the park or beach or grabbing lunch in a foreign city, check your packaging. Instead of picking up pre-cut fruit in a plastic container, grab something that doesn’t require cutting or packaging, like an apple or stone fruit. If you are seeking a chopped salad, try to find a place that uses reusable plastic or compostable packing or even better, get it to stay and avoid any single-use materials all together.
2. Treat your hotel like your home. "Turn off lights to save electricity, reuse towels to save water and turn off (or don’t use at all!) the air conditioning.” – Nick Brown, Founder & CEO, Soludos
3. How you get there, matters. – According to the New York Times, in one round-trip flight between New York and California, you’ve generated about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year. It’s unrealistic to avoid plane travel altogether, but we can do what we can to limit it, and make the most of it. If you can, why not take a fun train journey? If you have to take a plane, do your research, choose an airline that is making an environmental effort, and fly coach! According to a study from the World Bank, the emissions attributed to flying in business class are 3x as great as flying coach.
4. Plastic proof your summer – "the prevalence of single-use plastic bags, bottles, cups and more is upsetting and seemingly especially hard to avoid while traveling, which I do quite a bit of in the summertime. So when I travel, I always bring with me a reusable water bottle and pack extra bags (generally FEED), so I can avoid using plastic whenever possible. Also, I recently learned there’s an app called FindTap that I love, where you can find water anywhere, whether it’s a soda fountain that has a water tap, or a water fountain, it’ll tell you where you can fill up!” – Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder & CEO, FEED.
5. Pack for the planet – Take a look at what you are buying, and what you’re packing for your summer vacations. Bring reusable bags (we’d recommend FEED, in our unbiased opinion) for shopping and pack in bags that make a difference or are artisan-made, buy a pair of travel-friendly shoes made from recycled materials, like Soludos' Ashore Sneaker (made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles!), and pack your snacks in Stasher bags or other reusable, plastic bag alternatives. There are also more and more swimwear options made from plastic, fishing nets and other bad-for-the-planet waste.
6. Choose the path less traveled – "spread it out. Most people travel to places that are already saturated with travelers, which has a negative impact on that environment and doesn’t spread tourism dollars around. Instead of the Serengeti, try Ruaha National Park, swap Jamaica for Dominica and the Azores for Iceland.” – Paula Franklin, Executive Director, Empowers Africa
7. Shop local – When you’re traveling local, shop local. Instead of seeking out the familiar (think big box chains that are globally recognized), expand your horizons a bit. Visit local markets for hand-made goods, and fruit stands to buy organic, locally sourced produce to snack on as you journey. Look for restaurants and shops owned by, and frequented by locals. You’ll end up with a more authentic experience, support the locals, and leave a smaller footprint.
8. Eat local – "A growing number of restaurants serve only locally caught fish, including Jean-Gorges’ new The Fulton and Gabriela Camara’s Cala in San Francisco. I try to do this not only because it’s environmentally responsible, but also who doesn’t prefer fish that is fresher and representative of the nearby terroir?” – Ben Howe, Senior Editor, Departures Magazine.
9. Volunteer – To further immerse yourself in a new place and contribute something good, if you have enough time, get involved! Whether it’s just picking up trash wherever you go, or something a bit more organized, like scheduling time to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, it’s a great way to add a little impact to your getaway.
10. Think like a local – "Think about the ratios of tourists to locals where you are traveling. If there are way more tourists than locals (in most cases) think about the little things you can do to show respect for the people who actually live where you are going. Learn a few words in the local language, make an effort to patronize local businesses and see what experiences you can become a part of that involve the local community.” – Emily Nathan, Founder, Tiny Atlas Quarterly
Want to hear more? You’re in luck. We’re bringing together these incredible experts on a panel next Monday (June 24), at the Soludos Shoppe in Williamsburg, to talk traveling sustainably and consciously this summer. Plus, shopping and wine!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP – space is limited!