Green Travel Tips
Here are our top ten tips on how to make your stay more enjoyable and better for the environment - we could all travel more responsibly and make the most of the ethical and eco holidays on offer.
You may be aware of some of the tips already and you may still discover something new. Even small things can make a difference locally and globally.
- Act respectfully: make an effort to learn something about the local culture and language; dress respectfully; ask people before taking a picture of them, or their children or home.
- Bargain politely for goods and services and pay a fair price.
- Buy local and support the local economy. Never buy products made from endangered animals or plants.
- Conserve water and energy: ask for your towels to be washed less often; switch off lights and airconditioning when you leave your room.
- Consider recycling: leave your product packaging at home; bring back certain items such as batteries so they can be recycled safely.
- Give any gifts or money to a local school or worthy project rather than encourage begging.
- Leave no trace: when trekking or hiking, don't leave any rubbish and collect any that you see; bring your own shopping bag to discourage the use of plastic bags as they often end up in the sea killing marine life and can create problems on land too. Bring your own re-usable water bottle instead of plastic bottles.
- Offset your carbon emissions? Offsetting is not the whole answer to climate change but can play a role, see our Environmental Policy for further info.
You can offset your car, train or plane journeys via the charity AtmosFair.de.
- Tread lightly: don't pick flowers and plants or collect pebbles and seashells.
- When back home, consider supporting an organisation that works for the environment, people or wildlife of the country you have just enjoyed.
More specific Beach Friendly Tips
Top ways to help make beaches better while on holiday...
1. Join the Big Holiday Beach Clean! - More and more people like to give something back while they are on holiday. Why not join us for the Big Holiday Beach Clean for Make Holidays Greener month in July. - Ask your resort if they are taking part.
(If you're staying in the UK, you can sign up for one of the Marine Conservation Society's beachwatch events.)
2. Use an ashtray. Ensure that cigarette butts don't pollute the beach and ocean by disposing of yours properly.
3. Down the drain. Some areas of ocean contain six times more microscopic plastic particles than plankton. Avoid contributing to the "plastic soup" by avoiding bathroom products that contain microplastic particles (for example some exfoliating scrubs) and don't use the toilet to flush away objects that might end up as ocean litter.
4. Snorkel safely. Coral reefs are incredibly fragile and can take many decades to grow. Practise your snorkelling away from the reef, and be aware of where your fins are – try not to stir up sediment as this can smother animals living on the reef. Do not touch or stand on the reef or other marine life – even the lightest touch will damage coral.
5. Wear environmentally friendly sunscreen. Read the label. A product advertising itself as "reef safe" doesn’t necessarily mean what it says. Always look at the ingredient lists to make sure reef-damaging substances (such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, all of which can be harmful to coral even at low levels) aren't included.
6. When you dispose of your litter take care not to add to already overflowing public bins. Also, ask your hotel about its recycling policy and give feedback about the facilities on the beach.
7. Choose sustainable seafood. Avoid fish that are endangered, including shark and bluefin tuna. Check out the Marine Conservation Society's www.goodfishguide.org and the Pocket Good Fish Guide for a list of fish to avoid.
8. Balance your carbon emissions. Consider walking or cycling to the beach rather than using a vehicle.
Neal's Yard Agency's holistic approach encompasses an awareness of and responsibility for our environmental impact, and a desire to tread lightly on this planet.
Neal's Yard Holidays recommends selected holistic and ecological holiday centres. Some centres support local organic farmers, others offer tree-planting holidays; all are small places in beautiful settings off the beaten track where guests can rest in harmony with their natural surroundings – allowing nature to thrive while working its wonders on the human body, mind and spirit.
Neal's Yard Agency operates as an ethical and green business itself. It uses an ethical bank and supports a number of green and humanitarian aid charities. It recycles everything from paper to glass, and uses sustainable or recycled products wherever possible.
It also offsets the unavoidable business air travel of its staff, and encourages others to do the same, or to consider travelling by boat or by train instead.
Carbon offsetting is not the answer to climate change but can play a role, and there is now a choice of reputable organisations to turn to for advice. Neal's Yard Agency would recommend either one of the Gold Standard accredited schemes (eg atmosfair.de) or a registered charity such as AtmosFair.de or www.carbonbalanced.org – the latter is run by The World Land Trust, Sir David Attenborough is a patron.
Switching to a green electricity supplier that supports renewable energy sources can also help tackle climate change. For further advice see www.greenelectricity.org
For more bright ideas on how to live more sustainably, even in an urban setting, visit the Centre for Alternative Technology's website at www.cat.org.uk
If you have any suggestions or comments on this topic that could be helpful please use the feedback form.