After a cold, dull winter, most people look forward to a family holiday where the sun is reliable and the temperature’s just right for lounging on the beach and relaxing. There are so many aspects of holidaying that can contribute to your carbon footprint, so we thought we’d put together a helpful guide to give you a guilt free green holiday this summer.
Everyone knows planes are one of the biggest contributions to the emissions of a holiday so we’ll get this one out of the way first! Flying creates three times the emissions of going by car, so add that up for the whole family and the total is already starting to accumulate.
If you’re holidaying in Europe, look for options to go by ferry or train and you could really enjoy a new way to see the cities and resorts you travel to. Even travelling further afield can give you options to see the sights by public transport, perhaps flying some of the way but taking a train for part of the journey.
When you arrive at your destination, you’re unlikely to have a car to get from A-B so try out local bus services or explore on foot. If you plan in advance so your base is well placed to get to any tourist destinations you want to visit, you could save time, money and carbon while travelling on your holiday.
That all important step before heading off on your travels; picking out what to take and getting your case ready. Maybe you’re looking to maximise your kg allowance and don’t want unnecessary weight taken up by a heavy case, or perhaps your old case has seen better days and you want a new one.
Buying a new suitcase for one holiday a year means taking up space storing your case after your trip. There are also the resources that have gone in to making it to consider, and that’s without the cost of between £40 and £200 depending on the size and design! Cut the emissions of your holiday before you even book your tickets by speaking to friends and seeing if they have a case you could borrow. Most people will have one and you can say thank you with a gift when you return!
Many people get excited as the holiday dates approach and head out to the shops for some new holiday clobber. OK, so if you’re travelling from the UK to sunnier climes (or cooler ones), you may need some new items of clothing, but there are green and less green ways to go about kitting out your holiday wardrobe.
Charity shops and car boot sales are a great place to start. You can often find quality branded clothing cheaper than new goods from high street discount stores. This means you can be getting more durable clothing for the same price as cheaper clothing, giving you more wear out of it after your holiday! As well as making your money go further, the pounds you spend go to help good causes, but that’s not where the benefits stop. According to WRAP, £140 million of clothing is sent to landfill every year so supporting charity shops creates a market to reuse unloved textiles and reduce the amount going to landfill.
If you’ve previously bought cheap holiday clothes and left them behind to make space for gifts and duty free, consider bringing them back and making them a permanent part of your wardrobe. Cotton production accounts for over 10% of pesticide and nearly 25% of insecticide use around the world according to the Pesticide Action Network. Making sure our clothes get as much use as possible and are recycled when we no longer need them can help reduce the contribution of the fashion industry to chemical use.
Enjoying good food and drink is a highlight of most holidays. We often talk about supporting local businesses, and doing so while on holiday is another way to make your trip abroad greener. As well as keeping local producers and growers in business, the food miles are reduced and the local economy can keep investing in itself.
Aside from that is the huge benefit for you. Why choose familiar foods and imported beers you can get at home when you’re exploring a new country? By immersing yourself in the culture of the place you’re visiting you can enjoy new foods and experience new ways of cooking, making your holiday more memorable at the same time!
If slow travel isn’t possible for your destination, there is another option to help combat the carbon emissions your holiday produces; carbon offsetting.
Carbon offsetting is where you pay for carbon credits equal to the amount of emissions your activity has produced (in this case flying). This money is then invested by offsetting companies in clean water schemes, afforestation, renewable energy projects and other green schemes which help create a lower carbon infrastructure and invest in reducing carbon emissions to avoid climate change.
Carbon offsetting does receive some criticism because it doesn’t address underlying behaviour change, and can lead to people justifying unsustainable behaviour on the basis of buying credits. If you can slow travel or choose a closer destination, that will always make your holiday greener, but as a last resort, carbon offsetting can help fund lower carbon development.