The new year is an opportunity to set new goals, and at World Travel Able, we want to focus on 2 main topics: environment and health.
They are definitely correlated because without a good environment, it’s very hard to be healthy.
Travel is our passion, but with poor health and a damaged planet, there is not much left to enjoy.
That’s what we want to talk about in this post, starting with eco-friendly tips. We hope it will give you some green inspiration to start off the year on a positive and healthy foot!
New year’s green resolution for the environment
That’s probably the topic that I find the most difficult to set goals on.
Before making new green resolutions, I would like to make a quick review of 2019.
We had – and still have – bushfires killing billions of animals in Australia; the same thing happened in Europe, Canada and Amazonia last summer.
Today I woke up and saw images of Barcelona which has experienced probably the strongest storm ever, wreaking a lot of damage.
And if we go back in time, we will also remember that drought was what triggered the war in Syria and all the consequences we have seen as a result…
There are so many things going on as well in our oceans: bleaching corals in Australia, oceans being taken over by plastic, fish disappearing, contamination of rivers due to industrial activity, and many more problems.
You might think you are not responsible for such disasters, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, responsibility lies with all of us.
As the French photographer and ecologist Yann Artus Bertrand says, I am a very worried optimist. Because I refuse to give up. But we have to understand that we are our own enemy.
There are so many things we can do to help our planet. We have to feel confident about this.
While many people argue that industry, corporations, politics and so on all hold the key, I strongly disagree. If we act together, we have much more power than we think! Our consumer habits will influence things.
So here are a few ideas to help the planet be healthier and greener this 2020!
Aim to go zero waste = consume less plastic!
That’s probably one of the most challenging green resolutions. You don’t have to be perfect. Even if you manage this only partially, it’s already helpful.
Plastic is currently the number one polluter of our oceans. But not only our oceans: when burnt, it pollutes our soils and our air. Plus, don’t forget it is made from petrol and this industry is destroying our planet. So it’s really an important thing to look at.
Here are a few easy things you can do to avoid plastic and packaged products:
- Carry a bottle of water to refill.
That’s one of the first green resolutions I took.
There are different kinds: glass, BPA-free plastic, stainless steel.
Choose the most convenient option for you. In my case, I went for something light as my back hurts when carrying too much weight. But I also have a heavier one made of glass that I keep at work for instance.
- Carry a mini bag to use when going shopping
You don’t need plastic bags to carry your groceries if you have one of these. It’s so tiny you won’t even notice it! I keep one either in my pocket, my backpack or my handbag. One of the easiest green resolutions for you this year!
- Buy in bulk stores
This resolution requires a little more organisation, as you need to take your empty recipients with you to the shop. But it’s just a question of getting into the habit. I go with my shopping trolley any time I am free and fill up with either food or cleaning products, and the good thing is that I am not tempted to buy things I don’t need since I only bring the recipients I need.
- Repair, buy less, buy second-hand
We don’t need to buy new stuff all the time. There are many things we can simply repair. Especially when it comes to clothes.
If you are fed up with your wardrobe, organize a gathering with friends to exchange clothes. It’s becoming more and more popular and it is a good green compromise when we want to wear something different.
Waste is a huge source of carbon emissions. Why? First, because we have to produce it!
And how do we produce it? With water, soil and time.
Then it needs to be transported to the consumers…
Meanwhile, people are starving. That makes absolutely no sense!
The industry also spreads misleading information to make sure we keep buying.
Best-by dates are shorter than what they could be (except for meat I would say). In many cases, it has nothing to do with safety.
Have a look at the below video, where they talk about food waste with a great sense of humour!
How refreshing after talking about all those negative subjects!
So what can you do to follow your green resolutions?
- Reduce the amounts of food you buy and order at restaurants
- Review the best-by dates and take them with a pinch of salt
- Buy less, but more often when it comes to fresh food
- Check how you can donate in your community
- Buy the ugly tomato and funny shaped carrot!
- Recycle through compost!
Which leads us to the next topic…
Recycle, when you are on holiday too!
So you couldn’t go zero waste? Don’t worry. Nobody is perfect and it’s already good to try and take baby steps towards achieving this green goal.
Recycling also goes a long way towards improving the health of our planet!
Every country, region, city has a different system, so it’s important you get informed, especially when you are not at home.
I know a lot of people who recycle at home but don’t bother when travelling, which makes no sense. Many tourist hotspots have a lot more tourists than residents during the high season. So imagine if everybody thought like that, it would be a disaster for those destinations.
We say we love those places, so we should also make the effort to recycle properly.
In Barcelona, for instance, we have four different bins separating plastics, glass, paper and compost.
It’s very important to place our waste in the right bin so just google it, or ask your host when you are on holidays.
Travel less, travel longer, travel better
I have already talked in a previous post about what you can do to lessen your impact on the environment.
Travel comes with a heavy carbon footprint. But if done the right way, it can help the planet in a very positive way.
Choose your destinations, accommodation, activities and modes of transport wisely. Follow your green resolutions at all times!
I know it’s not always easy to ask the boss for a long holiday, but it’s better for the planet to take one long vacation rather than 5 small ones.
Spend less energy
This is connected with what I just said about travelling.
The main problem with frequent travel are the large amounts of petrol needed, especially with flights and car journeys.
So what can we do to use less energy? Well, the answer lies not only with transport, although it plays a big part.
Here are a few examples of what you can do to use less energy:
- Go walking or cycling (I don’t mean electric bikes, they pollute too)
- If you have a car, share it with others
- Prefer trains over planes
- Turn off the lights when you are not in a room!
- Spend less time in the shower: double gain as you will save water and electricity!
- Delete those emails that you don’t need. Yes, data consumes a lot of energy and sometimes I wonder if the old-style pen and paper were not better
- Turn off the Internet when you go to bed
- Shut down your PC at work, always! (At home too!)
- Use air conditioning and heating sparingly! Use the thermostat to make sure you don’t go below 26ºC in the summer and 21ºC in the winter! And complain to the bus driver and the shops when they have it on too high! They are definitely the worst!
- Do sport outdoors when you can. It’s better to run around the park than use the electrical devices at the gym – for the mind too!
- Replace your light bulbs with LEDs, you probably already know that one but… just in case!
- If you buy a new device for your home, don’t only look at the price: make sure that it is energy efficient!
- Insulate your house – that’s an investment you won’t ever regret!
- And most importantly, as I said before, REFUSE to consume. REDUCE, reuse, recycle. That has definitely an impact on saving energy!
Does planting trees offset carbon?
One of my favourite ideas to tackle climate change is planting trees.
But I really doubted before putting it in my list of green resolutions.
Why? Because I quickly realized that you can’t just plant trees and think it’s okay then if you pollute the planet.
Planting trees is not so easy, and you need to do it the right way. Not with drones as some people think!
You need to understand that nature is complex, you can’t just plant a billion trees like that. It needs to be a tree that can grow well in the area, and you also need to make sure those trees will be taken care of once planted.
We should also request our governments to comply with our green resolutions! If they took solid initiatives to take care of our forests and encourage shepherds (who are key to prevent wildfires as explained in this article), we would not lose so many trees in the first place!
We hope those ideas will inspire you to take up more green initiatives around your home, or community and during your travels!
If you would like to read more tips for healthy inspiration on World Travel Able, click here for the second part of this article to health resolutions!