Can we even talk about anything at all without being political anymore? I guess not, and neither we should. Not even when we talk about traveling around the world! This 2020 has been kicking our butts enough times already, and now, even the latest green deal Europe promised to carry on is officially off the table . Sure, we can stay mad at big, evil companies that keep polluting like crazy, and wondering nonstop “why should we do something if they don’t?”. But our contribution counts more than you realize. We are the audience, the market, the inhabitants of this beautiful world. At the risk of sounding cheesy, we can actually make a difference. Guess I’ll dress up as a motivational quote this Halloween.
So, how can we, as travelers, as nomads, do our part to be eco-friendly?
Choose sustainable gear
You can make conscious decisions about everything you pack – including the backpack itself. Now more than ever, hundreds of brands are deciding to ride the sustainable wave. Next time you’re about to do the check out for that amazing new jacket, stop your impatient index and take a minute to research the brand you just picked. What’s their work ethics? What type of material do they use? Are they making any efforts towards sustainability? Beware of those brands that are merely greenwashing you – aka, all of those companies convincing you they’re the greenest beans on the market, only to stab you in the back worse than Brutus with Caesar. Also, if your budget is merciful, try to invest in quality when purchasing tools and gear: you’ll have companions for life, and produce a lot less waste.
Even the little things count
Packing up is not only about clothing though. You might be forgetting so many other aspects of your traveling life that can take an eco-friendly color. How about the underrated choice of purchasing a washable water bottle? Or a solid shampoo instead of a mini shampoo bottle? And hey, let’s not forget about that special friend that always pays a visit once a month. Disposable pads and tampons create an immense amount of waste: truth is, the alternatives are not only better, but also cheaper. Today, there’s things such as washable pads, bleedingproof panties, and even menstrual cups . All of these are great options for your everyday life as a traveler, and with only 20 bucks you avoid feeding the landfills for several years. And if you can’t go one day without make-up, not even while riding a camel in the Sahara, you can make further green choices – how about washable cotton pads to remove that eyeshadow?
Your feet are seriously powerful
I’m not going to give you the talk and expect you to be the more adventurous, resilient traveler ever. Let’s be real here. I’ve been traveling my whole life and I’m still the queen of lazy. Right, hiking is fun, especially amidst nature. And then sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, it’s really, incredibly hot, so hot even your eyes are sweating, and that taxi seems just so conveniently placed there. I get it. But if it’s not a matter of dying of dehydration, stranded on a desolate road, you should seriously weigh your options. Choosing a nice walk rather than the hundredth Uber ride can do a great favor to the world, and to your tights as well. Not to mention, it’s a great way to discover all those hidden corners you would have missed had you opted for a cozy ride. Bikes are also appreciated in this green club, of course. And if you really feel weak on the knees, then public transportation is always an eco-friendlier option than a solo ride – though a louder, smellier one.
Go local, eat smart
Eating local equals to eating responsibly. Local food doesn’t need to be imported and doesn’t travel on long, horrible trucks for thousands of miles before getting into your stomach. There – you’re already sparing some extra pollution. (Damn, how my heart aches whenever I see a bunch of bananas wrapped into plastic). Not to sound judgy, but a plant-based diet would also come quite handy. Meat production is one of the worst causes of pollution in the world. And I know, you’re on vacation, or you’re going somewhere where meat is a sort of specialty – it’s hard. I’d say, still try to make an effort and root for the veggies. And if you really can’t stop yourself, well, at least avoid fast food restaurants! No explanations needed there, right? I’m sure you can find something better than that. Literally, anything.
Be wary of the junk you produce
You know, even people that claim to go zero waste, can’t actually achieve that 0. You’re always going to produce some trash, albeit small. And you always need to take care of what you leave behind if you want to proceed the right way. (I’m truly embodying my motivational quote Halloween costume here huh). I’ll sound like a park ranger, but simply don’t litter when you travel around. You should always be informed on how they locally handle waste disposal, and follow the guidelines concerning recycling. And even if you can’t avoid making a little trash, you can still do your best to limit it: there are tons of guides that teach you how to do it, so you can start your journey well-prepared.
>> Read more: How to become a minimalist nomad.
Apart from these concrete, practical actions that will totally grant you the badge of eco-friendly traveler, there’s other seemingly unrelated tips that can contribute to your green goals. For instance, you could keep track of the green choices you make in your own travel journal, so to be more conscious and solidify the effort more and more every day. You can look up to travelers like you that have chosen a sustainable lifestyle, and get inspired to improve your green attitude. Be vocal, spread the word and stay sensitive towards the world around you: it needs you. And most of all, be a brave soldier: keep your shower short and quick.