The eco-friendly era
We are currently entering the eco-friendly era and nowadays every company rebrands itself in order to look out for both its customers and nature. Some companies manage to do it quite well, whereas others have more trouble doing so. Whatever the results are, the goal is still the same: looking green. Just like every other sector, the whole travel industry from airline companies to hotel chains to tour operators and so on are experiencing the same shift to the green side.
This trend was brought on thanks to a real awareness of the environmental crisis. Lead mainly by young people, the fight against climate change is impacting the world. Hence, companies choose new strategies to deal with this controversy. Fortunately some of them make big changes because they were sincerely affected by the crisis or they really believe in the cause. Still, other companies only feign interest in making such changes. This is what is called greenwashing: looking green but not really being green. Our goal as travelers is to recognize the companies who trick us by faking being eco-friendly. Those businesses will do their best to show that they are incredibly “green” when in reality they are not. Thankfully, there are now trustworthy websites that offer alternative accommodations that truly care about the environment, like Nature.house, which has listings primarily in the Netherlands but also all throughout Europe.
As a traveler, being eco-friendly while traveling is not all that easy. We tend to spend a lot of money when we are on the road. We spend it on souvenirs, clothes, food, transportation and things of that sort. However, if we want to be part of the climate change fight, we must do our best to limit our impact. In order to do that, let’s discuss the possibility of being eco-friendly while traveling.
Being eco-friendly while traveling does not start when you arrive at your destination. In fact, it starts way before. Indeed, when you choose your means of transportation, you already play a role. By choosing to take a plane, you have a bigger impact on the planet CO2-wise and thus you are affecting climate change.
According to the National Geographic Green Guide, “If you take the train, then you’ll cut carbon dioxide (CO2) by half compared to the plane”. This data is the result of all that happens on the plane like the onboard food and all the supplies necessary during the flight. However, this data does not count what happens when you leave the airport and all the other problems while you are out of it. Airports are rarely located in city centers, whereas rail stations are. By choosing to take a plane, you may also be choosing to take a taxi when you land in order to access the city center. Whereas by choosing to take the train, you usually only need that mode of transportation to get to the city center.
Housing: what should I choose to be eco-friendly?
Hotels are not seen in a good light when it comes to the environmental crisis for a few reasons such as their private swimming pools, new soap every day, little chocolate bars under your pillow, clean towels daily, and the list goes on. These are things you would not want to do at home in an effort to save the planet. Thankfully, some hotels are doing their best to change the trend. These hotels are referred to as “green hotels”. A good example is Black Ship Inn in Ecuador. There, the host asks the customers to use composting toilets and also prepares vegetarian food. This is not greenwashing because it really affects the customer’s experience.
Recognizing greenwashing is simple. If your user experience does not meaningfully change, it’s probably greenwashing. Think about fast food restaurants. They turn their logo green, but your favorite hamburger still tastes and is made the same. There’s no real meaningful change there. However in truly green hotels, the changes may reduce your comfort in the short-term, but for a good cause in the long run. A great resource to find more green accommodations is Nature.house which has over 6,000 nature houses, from cabins and cottages to B&Bs and treehouses. They are surrounded by nature and are great for solo travelers, couples, and families who would like to stay for a day or more.
By living a very simple and thoughtful lifestyle while traveling, we can actually reduce our impact and be eco-friendly. However, when we travel we often do the exact opposite. Wouldn’t finding a compromise right in the middle be awesome? Well, it is possible.
Before any trip, think about everything you can bring in order to avoid buying it when you arrive. Soap can be a great example. Airlines let you have small liquids inside a plastic bag in your handbag. Why not take advantage of that option more often? You can also seek out businesses that reduce their environmental footprint while also contributing to the well-being of local communities or that support local nature projects, like Nature.house. They allow you to choose among many options for your stay like a modern guesthouse, a rustic vacation home in the countryside, an eco-lodge surrounded by beautiful foliage, or even a quiet seaside resort. They make it easy to find and book sustainable and genuine eco-friendly accommodations.
Then when you arrive at your destination, get to your accommodations with public transport. It will make you discover the people, the language, and the city directly. Once at the place you’re staying, you can choose to buy organic food from a local producer. With Nature.house, you can even enjoy fresh and healthy foods with the agriturismo accommodations that have their own-grown garden. By doing so, you help the local economy and reduce your impact on the environment.
However you travel, just be logical with yourself and thoughtful with your decisions. Holidays are designed to relax, but if we can relax while saving the planet, it feels even better!
Featured image: Nature house in Leusden, House #45276