Can travel be green or sustainable? Some people are saying we shouldn’t even be flying on airplanes because the fuel is so polluting. I say let me escape from my home country for a month every year so I can keep my sanity. This place is crazy. From my locale, the fastest and immediately cheapest way to get out is by airplane, if I want to go south, not north, that is.
Mother Jones just tweeted a link to an article about eco friendly air travel. Are you personally responsible for more energy consumption and environmental pollution by flying on a packed plane or by driving by yourself on the highway? Despite the increasing fuel efficiency of airplanes, highway driving still wins the green battle.
Greener air travel now involves thinner more aerodynamic planes with no wasted seats and bigger overhead compartments leaving less headspace. I find myself getting increasingly claustrophobic on airplanes. But, I guess it is worth it if it lowers my carbon footprint and lets me get somewhere far away in mere hours. Obviously, flying on a direct flight keeps your carbon footprint lower than using connecting flights (take offs and landings use more fuel).
Okay then I can control how sustainable my vacation is once I get out of the airport. How to keep my impacts on my vacation spot to a minimum? Don’t create waste by buying bottled water! Bring a water filter instead. Many small Caribbean islands have no recycling program. Electricity and government water can be very expensive leading to stupid practices such as on Tortola, where it is so expensive to have fresh, treated water installed and delivered to your dwelling that many people use paper plates and dishes and plastic utensils just so they don’t have to wash dishes. No thought to the landfills apparently.
We as tourists should know better and do better. Try and take buses if there are any. Again, check out Tortola, no public bus service! You have to have a vehicle or you hitchhike around the island. Just because trade winds blow the ozone pollution out to sea, well it still ends up somewhere, like on another island;
Soil is the second-largest repository for atmospheric carbon after the oceans. Soil stores four times the carbon that is contained in all of the Earth’s living, breathing biomass and atmosphere. The place where carbon belongs, its highest and best use, is underground. – See more at: http://3blmedia.com/News/Leave-It-Ground-Carbon-and-Future-Planet#sthash.Vn5EcTd8.dpuf
or in the sea, killing planktons and corals.
The sea does double duty, producing most of our oxygen and dissolving and absorbing most of our fossil fuel CO2 (as carbonic acid). As the oceans acidify, they become super-saturated with this element, a condition detrimental to sea life. – See more at: http://3blmedia.com/News/Leave-It-Ground-Carbon-and-Future-Planet#sthash.Vn5EcTd8.dpuf
Another way I try to keep my carbon footprint small while on vacation is to avoid cruise ships. I really can’t see the attraction of this sort of vacation anyway. Trapped on a possibly virus contaminated giant ship with other holidaymakers who smell like cheap commercial moisturizer and cigarettes, how is this fun? All you can eat I guess, something like that?
My personal distaste for giant cruise ships is really beside the point. The cruise ship industry does not have a great record of environmental responsibility what with dumping sewage and garbage at sea and dragging anchors across coral reefs.
Nor do they do much to help the local economies of the exotic ports and towns where they disgorge passengers for a few hours. I have heard of cruise boat officials warning passengers before they disembark to only take 20 dollars in their pockets so as not to get robbed? I have even heard of fancier cruise ships making bagged lunches for people to bring with them to shore. The cruise ship pays the government for the right to berth in the port, but then do nothing much for local people’s little businesses.
I don’t want to antagonize cruise ship lovers, but I really believe that we (at least we Americans) would become a more mature society by personally giving better attention to the rest of the world. Instead of traveling on these huge ships filled with people just like us. It would be cool (I speak as an American) if all Americans could be given the ability or maybe even compelled to travel to a foreign country at some point in their twenties, like it’s a civic duty. There would be a real education.
Cruise ship vacations are a kind of sterilized travel that keeps you from interacting with the rest of the world. And they are very polluting!
Check out cruise ship company environmental scores. http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-card
Another way to travel green is to avoid large/posh resorts (or is that because I can’t afford it haha) Large hotels and resorts are often environmentally irresponsible. A huge resort’s oversized carbon footprint is caused by things like using air conditioning instead of implementing better architecture to allow natural cooling to occur, overuse of valuable resources like water and electricity, and, well, basic economic reasons such as the need to make a profit.
Find out more about how to be comfortable and love vacationing in a cheap, affordable Caribbean apartment or guesthouse!