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For many people, the month of April means taking advantage of the springtime and spending time outside with nature. This year, Earth Day feels very different with many spending the day indoors. To honor Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, here are our top tips for creating sustainable travel habits, both now whilst inside and when you travel in the future. 

Read: Eco tips whilst unable to travel

Read: Eco tips when able to travel

 

What you can do whilst not travelling
 

Take a virtual field trip

If you can’t get outside right now, you can bring the outdoors in with a virtual field trip. There are a host of digital experiences that have been created recently to keep us all entertained inside. 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

As we spend less time (and money) on takeaway coffees and water bottles, now is the time to invest in reusable containers for when we are back out and about again. This includes a water bottle, a coffee cup, reusable cutlery, and reusable bags (for groceries or buying souvenirs)

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. If you have limited outside space, a window box with a small herb garden is easy to grow and maintain and provides practical plants to make great meals at home. If you are restricted to indoors only, you can green up your living space with indoor plants that are especially good for those living in cities or built-up areas as they are great for producing clean air for your home.

Many local gardening centers are open with some even offering no-contact pickup. You can even have plants delivered straight to your doorstep from a host of online plant delivery services.  

 

Take a walk 

If you are safely able to do so, take a walk around your neighborhood (while observing social distancing rules). 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. 

Make sure on your walk to leave no trace of your trip, making sure to take all litter home with you and not to go off the beaten track to avoid disturbing wildlife.

 

Recycle or repurpose

Many are taking this extra time to have a Spring Clean of their home. Clearing closets of unwanted clothes, getting rid of out of date electronics and binning food at the back of the pantry. There is a tendency during this process to adopt the mindset of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. Instead, take this time to focus on what can be re-used, re-purposed, recycled, or donated to for better use.

Your old clothes can be donated to those in need, recycled to create new fabrics or you can even upcycle fabric to create masks during this crisis.

Take old electronics to your recycling centre instead of putting in your general waste. If you are clearing out your kitchen cupboards, instead of throwing away unused or not needed food, instead donate to your local food shelter (just make sure all the food is in date) or experiment with recipes to use them up.

 

What you can do 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 we are able travel again, consider the possibilities of travelling within your own country or neighbouring countries nearby. Take this time whilst not travelling to explore the best destinations to visit in your area (and don’t forget to build the perfect road trip playlist!)

 

If you do fly, offset your CO2 emissions

If you have a travel destination you have planned that you need to fly to, consider other ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint when travelling. 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 way to get around would be by bike. This is a great way to see your destination from a different viewpoint, it’s also a great way 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.

 

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 rental on your travels. Check with your host ahead of setting off to double-check anything you might need to agree to be in the home beforehand.

 

Research beforehand

To help support local communities and wildlife when travelling, make sure to 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 only. 

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

 

Stay local

The trend for eco-tourism is on the rise, with many travel providers marketing themselves as eco options. Eco-friendly accommodation offers accommodations that 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/or organic food in their restaurants.

Home swapping is often considered 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 real local’s home over purpose-built hotels or apartments, you are choosing to make use of what already exists, putting less strain on the local communities and the environment. 

 

Support local businesses

Instead of travelling into the centre of your travel destination with the crowds of tourists all trying to find places to shop and eat, why not opt to stay put and explore what is on your doorstep? If you are home swapping, your host will likely have already left you a list of the best places nearby. These will be supporting the local economy and saves the carbon emissions of you travelling elsewhere.

 

Help where you can

Sometimes images in the 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. 

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