Sustainable Travel Tips – “Truefoods Top 10 abroad”
During my last two trips to Asia (Borneo & Bali/Lombok) I figured out some ways on how to travel more sustainable. The problem with plastic overuse in Asia is very common and as a Backpacker, it is actually pretty easy to avoid plastic pollution. These travel tips should act as a win-win situation for you as a traveler as well as the environment/nature you are visiting. Starting just like every travel on the Airport, in the Airplane and then throughout your journey. Visit our Webpage and make sure to implement these small changes during your next trip – every ecological footprint counts. Currently, we are planning on our next overseas journey during this winter. The country is still secret but we can tell you that it will be all about Permaculture and the redefining of Truefoodsblog in 2019.
1. At the Airport
Every long-distance travel starts at an Airport, and we all know the water problem after the check-in. You have to empty your bottles and bringing water from the outside is not possible.
But here comes the clue, the fact that you only have to empty your bottle means that you can carry the empty bottle with you. Most of the airports nowadays offer refill stations after the check-in. And if not, the water quality in some countries is good enough to refill at a sink (Check the water-quality of the airport country before doing so to avoid harmful bacteria and microorganisms).
Bring a large glass or aluminium bottle with you wherever you go – Your Travel Bottle
Refill the bottle, drink, stay hydrated and save money, protect the environment by not buying several plastic bottles at a place. Win-Win Situation Nr.1
2 & 3. In the Airplane – During your Flight
The next plastic & waste trap is the flight itself, we all know how much waste we create during a flight just because of “safety issues” & the convenience of one-single use cutlery. Traditionally, airlines have a preference for non-reusable items. Reusable knives, forks, trays, cups, and glasses cost more, are heavier and need to be separated from food waste, sterilized and cleaned, and that all adds to costs.
According to a Green America report published in 2010, each airline passenger generates just more than a kilogram of waste per flight. In 2013, airlines around the world carried 6.3 billion passengers, who, therefore, produced more than 3.15 million tonnes of waste.
Take your part:
- Bring your refill bottle, and every time the flight attendant wants to bring you water in a new plastic cup, give him/her a friendly smile and ask him/her kindly to refill your bottle instead of using a new one-time use plastic cup
- Bring your own earplugs, eye mask, headset, socks & toothbrush – most of the Airlines are providing a Hygiene package for your flight (including these things). After your flight, the utensils are thrown away which accounts to the huge amount of waste generated by flight passengers every year.
- If you do not want to eat the sometimes less delicious airplane food. Make sure to cancel your In-flight meal a few days before the flight. In that way, the airline produces one tablet less of plastic dish meal. Claire, for example, avoids eating on airplanes most of the time totally, her plastic waste footprint, therefore, is very small. Another option is to ask for fruits covered in their “natural packaging” (bananas, oranges, kiwi etc.).
- Cook your own food and bring it with you. Tupperware helps – that way you can eat according to your diet, no plastic waste is produced during the flight and the airline has to serve one dish less (as long as you cancel your food a few days before, directly at the airline).
- Vegetarian/Vegan Options on Airplanes. Make sure to contact the Airline 3-5 Days prior to your flight if you want to have an alternative meal to the standard meat-containing meals in flight.
4 & 5. Your Journey starts (Waste traps everywhere)
While traveling with the Backpack it is useful to have these utensils always with you:
- Travel Mug (inspired by my Travel buddy Kili): The Travel Mug is a easy and light weight kitchen utensil which you can carry on the outer straps of your Backpack. Our Mugs where made of biodegradable plastic which makes them super light and easy to clean. The most important is that you use the mug, meaning everytime you step into a bar, restaurant on the streets, booth or so and they serve drinks in on time plastic cups, hand them your mug and ask for a refill (we experienced that most of the time we get water refill´s for free and can protect the environment at the same time).
- Your travel bottle. Same accounts for your travel bottle. In most parts of Asia the water quality is not really good. Which is not a problem because the majority of the bars, hostels, hotels and cafes have installed water filtration systems for tap water. This water is perfectly fine for consumption. Just ask for a refill of your (1 or 1,5l) travel bootle and avoid buying plastic bottled water which pollutes the oceans.
- Carry Tupperware with you. From time to time it happens that you will be on the run and in the need for a Take-Away Meal (for long bus rides, flights etc.). If you have your Tupperware with you, you can ask kindly in the Restaurant if they can fill your meal in there instead of using a One-Time plastic To-Go box. I have never experienced a “No” to that in Asia. In western countries you can get refused due to “HACCP” & Contamination reasons.
Plastic polution on the beautiful shores of the island around Borneo – what a shame (plastic waste created by us humans) Photo taken on Borneo by Moritz (Truefoodsblog)
6. The vacation feeling – Small implementations help a lot
There are several ways to come from A to B (flights, bus, train, car, taxi & walking). The most sustainable of course is using your own feet. This is not possible for longer distances of course. The countries we have travelled so far are very backpacker friendly. So one cheap and environmentally more friendly option is the good old :
Hitchhicking – Tramping
You not only save money, but also have the chance to meet locals, wonderful people which open up their world to you. We had the best conversations and found the most beautiful places because of meeting locals. Don´t be shy and not afraid of getting refused (this will happen for sure). Stay safe out there and make sure to have a small gift with you whenever you do hitchhiking. The locals don´t want money from you but a small gift (a flower, something traditionally from home, school materials for the kids etc.) is always appreciated.
7. Plastic straws – (no one hates them more than us)
We had the chance to help out at a turtle sanctuary station in the Philippines sea for a few days which was an amazing experience. The turtle island is very eager to show all volunteers what all the waste pollution in the ocean makes with the Turtles and other sealife. Just to name two examples:
Turtles are confusing plastic bags with jelly fish & eat them – they then slowly die from the materials
Plastic straws are everywhere in the ocean – getting caught in the nostrils of the turtles ( breathing becomes imposible and most of them die)
from 80 Baby turtles only 2-3 survive until they are old enough to become parents as well (high mortality). It takes up to 20 years for a female turtle to maturity. Can you imagine that us humans as giant plastic polluters set an end to this lives within hours/days by polluting their natural environment with our shitty cheap plastic ?!
The solution against plastic straws is: Bamboo straws (or other reusable material) make sure you always have your straw with you and tell the waiter in bars, cafes, and restaurants you don´t want to have a plastic straw (you’ve got your own beautiful environmental friendly straw with you).
8. Respect the Nature (National parks)
Take nothing but Photographs, leave nothing but foot prints
The Motto is simple, never ever throw waste on streets, parks, the nature, in the ocean etc. I do not think I have to explain this to our conscious readers.
- Make sure to always bring enough water (2-3l) with you for a national park visit. To avoid buying expensive plastic water in the park.
- Bring local fruits with you, they give fast energy and save the food budget with low prices.
- Learn about the local fruits and vegetables (buy a book about this topic) and you will see how much edible food is surrounding you every day (for free).
9. Flight back (rebalance your carbon footprint)
If you fly, offset it.
When you buy carbon offsets, you pay to take planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in exchange for the greenhouse gases you put in. For example, you can put money toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere this is called to offset.
There are programs certified by the airlines itself to due so. We highly recommend though, that you do your own research and everytime you book a flight, right at the same time you offset and donate to a project (like planting trees in Peru or Canada).
A flight from New york to San Franciso has a 0.9 metric ton carbon footprint. Which counts for around 1/8 of the yearly carbon footprint of an american adult.
To offset such an amount you will have to donate at least 11$ for planting new trees in peru for example.
10. Encourage others to take action
The crucial factor in our conquest of the world was our ability to connect many humans to another. Humans nowadays completely dominate the planet not because the individual human is far smarter and more nimble-fingered than the individual chimp or wolf, but because Homo Sapiens is the only species on earth capable of cooperating effectively & flexible in large numbers.
So why not using this enormous potential of ours (the community) for the better?
Truefoods exists as a learning and sharing platform for all of us in order to live a more sustainable, environmental friendly life. Focusing on production, consumption & disposal of food and goods as well as environmental protection and re-building. With you as the community sharing this knowledge through the web we can reach so many people and make a change.
Always remember sharing is caring. If you travel together you can share shampoo, suncream, lotion, a portable ashtray (if you are a smoker) and so on to avoid double plastic use. If you have more suggestions which can be included in this article regarding sustainable traveling, let us know in the comments below.
“Once you say it out loud, once you start talking about a better future, you can begin thinking about alternatives.”
Thanks to my dear friend Kilian for this amazing two journeys to Asia together. And thank you out there for your engagement and the power of the community. Together we can make a change as a new generation of conscious and sustainable human beings.
Sources: Waste Airline, carbon footprint Nytimes