What is sustainability? According to Oxford Languages, sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
Although this now mainstream term is a relatively new idea to the 21st Century, the pursuit of 'sustainability' stems from other well-known concepts such as conservationism, internationalism, social justice, and other past movements. Now, these concepts have been collided into one umbrella term called ‘sustainable development’.
It’s safe to say that we are still in the phases of development because as a planet we are constantly searching for new ways to make things more sustainable from recycling, to reusing, to reducing waste. While you’ve begun to learn to do these things at home, how do you continue to keep up with your sustainable lifestyle while traveling?
1. Use Tupperware
Skip the snack bags and invest in Tupperware or reusable snack packs that can just be washed out and used for another snack. Not only does this help the environment, but you save yourself money in the end from consistently repurchasing plastic bags for snacks. If you choose to eat out, maybe choose from restaurants that are participating in eco friendly to go containers.
2. Make a Reusable Water Bottle Your Best Friend
Treehugger.com states that out of the 50 billion bottles of water being purchased each year, 80% end up in landfills even though recycling programs exist. 17 million barrels of oil are used in producing bottled water each year. If these statistics haven’t made you raise an eyebrow, maybe the cost will...bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water. 2 Liters of tap water a day only costs 50 cents for the entire year.
While it’s not advised to drink straight from the tap, you can look into water filters from companies like Brita that make tap water drinkable. Depending on your location, some places may be more willing to provide you water for free if you already provide your own bottle. Most times you’re just paying those couple of cents for the cup.
3. Walk, Bike, or Take Public Transportation
When and if possible, consider walking, biking, or taking public transportation to your destinations. These options are not only environmentally friendly, but you also have a chance of engaging yourself with the current location and its people, if walking or biking, because you’re able to stop and see things that you could have missed if traveling by car.
4. Shop Local
Reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing fewer items, especially in the preparation for your trip. Before stocking up on souvenirs that may be pointless once you return home, consider the purchase. Is it useful? What materials does it consist of? An alternative option is buying locally made; which is a great way to support local economies. Avoid buying things that come from endangered species. Or skip the purchase altogether and just take great travel photos!
5. Cancel Airline Headphones
Headphones contain artificial leather, PVC, and rubber: all which can pollute the ocean and air. Learn more about the lifecycle of headphones here. 1.2 billion people travel a year and each flyer usually is offered a pair of horrible airline headphones. Not only do you get better sound by just bringing your own headphones and adapter; but you help cut down on the amount of plastic used to produce these headphones that most of us tend to toss after our flight.