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For many people, the month of April means taking advantage of the spring weather and spending time outdoors with nature. And this year, staying outdoors has never been more important! So to honour Earth Day’s 51st anniversary - and to play our part in tackling climate change - here are our top tips for creating sustainable travel habits, both now and in the future. 

Read: Eco tips whilst unable to travel

Read: Eco tips when able to travel

 

What you can do to celebrate Earth Day from home
 

Take a virtual field trip

If you can’t travel right now (which is a huge proportion of the world), consider taking a virtual field trip. There are a host of digital experiences that have been created to keep us all entertained - and one year on from the first lockdowns, we're still adoring them! You can take a tour of a National Park, explore the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough, or even stroll through some of the world’s most famous Botanical Gardens

 

Ditch single-use plastic and containers

Takeaway coffees and park meet-ups have become a key pleasure for so many of us over the last year. So now is the time to invest in reusable containers. From water bottles and coffee cups to reusable cutlery and reusable bags for groceries, there are loads of great ways to get involved. We like The Independent's round-up of the best reusable coffee cups and Good Housekeeping's round-up of the best reusable water bottles is a really useful resource. 

If you’re travelling and looking for safe water to drink, download the app Tap (Android and iOS) that helps you find safe sources of drinking water wherever you are.

 

Add green to your space

If you are lucky enough to have access to a garden, now is the perfect time to get stuck into your gardening. Gardener's World is a great resource that's jam-packed with tips. If you have limited outside space, a window box with a small herb garden is easy to grow and maintain, and will give your meals a tasty dose of va va voom. And if you don't have any outdoor space, then green-up your living space with indoor plants - they're especially good for those living in cities or built-up areas, as they're great for producing clean air in your home.

Worldwide, the majority of local garden centers are open, with many even offering no-contact pickup. Don't have a car? Then you can even have plants delivered straight to your doorstep from a host of online plant delivery services. If you need a dose of inspiration, look no further than The Beginner's Garden - this website is packed with fantastic ideas. 

 

Take a walk 

If the last year has taught us one big lesson, it's that exercise is really important for both our physical and emotional wellbeing - so there's never been a better time to take a walk around your neighborhood (while observing social distancing rules, obviously!) Take this time to learn about the plants and animals that live in your local area and discover new walking routes you haven't had time to explore previously. 

Don't forget that you shouldn't leave any trace of your trip, so take all of your litter home with you, and don't go off the beaten track to avoid disturbing wildlife.

 

Recycle or repurpose

Many Love Home Swap members have used the last year to spring clean their homes (so that they're swap ready!) And while clearing your closet of unwanted clothes, getting rid of out-of-date electronics and binning food at the back of the pantry is an easy way to feel better about de-cluttering your home, it can also be wasteful. There is a tendency to adopt the mindset of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, but instead, focus on what can be reused, repurposed, recycled, or donated for better use. Freecycle is a fantastic way to find a home for your unwanted stuff, and keep waste out of landfill. 

Your old clothes can be donated to those in need, recycled to create new fabrics or you can even upcycle fabric to create masks (as long as social distancing measures need to be in place) - and many charities will pick up unwanted furniture.

Take old electronics to your recycling centre instead of putting them in your general waste, and if you are clearing out your kitchen cupboards, instead of throwing away unused, unwanted food, consider donating it to your local food shelter (just make sure all food is in-date) or experiment with recipes to use it up. The internet is a great resource here - we like Tesco's clever ways to use up leftovers and Jack Monroe's A-Z of what to do with leftovers is frankly brilliant. 

 

What you can do to celebrate Earth Day (when we are travelling again)

 

Take a break from flying

One of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions is to reduce the amount you are flying. Once you are able travel again, consider the possibilities of travelling within your own country or visit neighbouring countries that can be reached without flying. Take this time to explore the best destinations to visit in your area (and don’t forget to build the perfect road trip playlist - or listen to the playlists that we have created for every home swap scenario!)

 

If you do fly, offset your CO2 emissions

If you have to fly, consider other ways that you can reduce your travel carbon footprint. Instead of using private taxis to get around, why not opt for public transport instead? This not only reduces your environmental impact, but adds to the experience, providing opportunities to interact with locals.

Another great way to get around is by bike. This is the ideal way to see your destination from a different viewpoint, and it’s the perfect opportunity to fit in some exercise too. Your home swap host may have bicycles you can borrow, or alternatively many destinations now offer bike-sharing schemes for you to rent at an affordable price. Icebike's round-up of the world's top bike sharing programmes is a great starting-point. 

 

Pack lightly

Every kilo counts when flying - the more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces! In cases where you are flying, try to pack only what you need. If you are home swapping on your travels, you can enjoy the benefits of having a washing machine as well as other items that you would not normally have in a hotel or holiday rental. Check with your host ahead of setting off to double-check what they'll be providing you with.

 

Do your research beforehand

To help support local communities and wildlife when travelling, make sure you do some background research on the tours you would like to experience beforehand. This way you can ensure that you are only supporting ethical and environmentally-friendly services. 

Your home swap host will likely have recommendations of the best things to do in your area, so check with them first for their recommendations.

 

Stay local

The trend for eco-tourism is on the rise, with many travel providers marketing themselves as eco options. If you can't find a home swap in the area that you want to visit, then eco-friendly accommodation will allow you to reduce your carbon footprint and have less impact on the environment. It can include things like reduced energy and water use, supporting sustainable tourism practices, or the use of organic cleaning products and organic food in their restaurants.

But let's be honest, home swapping is undeniably an eco-friendly travel option! The concept of home swapping is all about making the most of what you already have and sharing that with others. So when you stay in a local’s home over purpose-built hotels or apartments, you are choosing to make use of what already exists, putting less strain on local communities and the environment. And that's an initiative that we're immensley proud to support. 

 

Support local businesses

Instead of travelling into the centre of your travel destination with crowds of tourists all trying to find places to shop and eat, why not opt to explore what is on your doorstep? Your home swapping host will probably leave you a list of the best places nearby, though a quick chat beforehand is a great way to find out where you want to eat out and shop. So support your newly-adopted local economy, and avoid the carbon emissions of travelling further afield!

 

Help where you can

Images in glossy magazines of white sandy beaches can look different from reality – with beaches sometimes littered with washed-up plastic bags or discarded bottles. Where safe, always try to pick up and dispose of litter safely to help keep beaches clean, and oceans free of plastic. This also goes for hiking trails, country walks and wherever else you find yourself on holiday. Mother nature will thank you for these little gestures. 

 

However you choose to celebrate Earth Day - be that by turning off lights when leaving the room, or walking to the shops rather than driving - remember that your small gesture ultimately amounts to a better planet for us all. And for that, we'd like to say a big thank you. 

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