Summer is one of the year’s highlights for many people worldwide. Many people enjoy some holidays, travel, and spend time with friends and family. We all deserve a break! However, like at Christmas, many of these habits have a high environmental footprint.
Following our series ‘Tips for a Green Christmas’, we would like to share some tips to make our summer holidays more sustainable. By taking small steps to make our summer holidays more sustainable, we can help tourism become a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Here are a few tips:
1. Explore the local sites.
Travelling to remote destinations has a high environmental cost. Yet, sometimes, the best places are to be found in our backyard! Local tourism will not only benefit the environment but will also support your local economy and help you discover true gems hidden in your region or country.
2. Travel by train and make it a part of your journey.
Transport accounts for around one-fifth of global CO2 emissions. Within road transport (75%), passenger vehicles represent 45% and freight 30%. Planes account for approximately 11% of transport emissions, and shipping around 10%. Train travel accounts for 1% only. The remaining impact (3%) is linked to the transport of materials and resources, such as water, oil, and gas.
Train travel is significantly better than any other transport mode from an environmental perspective: it is electrified in many cases, avoids traffic jams, and also minimizes the biodiversity loss caused by road transport (e.g., insects, deer and other wildlife).
3. Choose eco-friendly accommodation.
Hotels and tourism accommodations account for the same CO2 impact as plane transportation. This figure needs to be cut down significantly to meet our carbon targets. Therefore, where you choose to spend the night makes a difference.
Check the credentials of your accommodation, whether they use local food, renewable energy and hold any type of environmental accreditation (e.g., EU Ecolabel, LEED…).
4. Think green during your stay.
When you arrive at your destination, think of ways to discover the surroundings by foot or bike and try to combine urban and natural landmarks. The mode of transport and type of activities you choose will lower your impact and promote sustainable tourism at your destination – nature has a lot to offer!
5. Use less plastic, disposables, and other harmful products.
From disposable cups and bags to conventional sunscreen and plastic bottles, we should be aware of the impact these products bear on the environment…all year round! Choose reusable bottles, eco-friendly sunscreen, reusable wraps and other eco-friendly products to reduce your impact.
6. Clean up your local nature.
Whether you travel to the beach or the mountains, use every opportunity to take back waste you find along the way. Unfortunately, some people still leave their waste in nature. Therefore, if you encounter debris along the way, take it home to leave the place cleaner than before. If you want to take it one step further, you can always volunteer at a beach clean-up project.
7. Reduce air conditioning and light use.
Summer heat can be unbearable. Many turn to air conditioning as their solution; however, a fan and open windows will sometimes be enough to cool your home. Likewise, natural light is abundant in summer – try taking advantage of this instead of turning on the lights at your home. This will reduce your energy consumption and CO2 emissions while making your bills cheaper.
We hope these tips will help you enjoy a great summer at a lower ecological expense. Hopefully, you will convince others along the way to do the same and encourage green habits among your friends and family.
Erik Sørensen Ruiz
Environmental and Partnership Manager