I know traveling isn’t the most eco-friendly hobby. Air travel has actually been called the biggest carbon sin of all. I try my hardest to live an eco-conscious lifestyle and am working towards the very ambitious goal of going zero waste, and it’s really hard (if not impossible) to fit this passion of mine into both of those categories. Despite this challenge, how can we still be good environmental stewards? How can you make the effort to go above and beyond to be a responsible traveler? Here are some ways (both big and small) we can travel responsibly and live this love for the land even when adventuring.
This month I’m joining the challenge to refuse single-use plastic.
I’m pledging myself to Plastic Free July!
I’m excited to take this opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and start abandoning single-use plastic in more areas of my life.
I won’t harp on about how much I hate single-use plastic (hint: it’s a lot), but I just want to quickly share some facts with you.
- Over the last 10 years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
- We currently only recover (recycle) 5% of the plastics we produce.
- Plastics account for approximately 10% of the waste we generate.
- 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
Because of these facts, I am trying my best to kick that plastic habit, and I just wanted to share the main ways I am doing so in my everyday life. These are things everyone can do very easily! So, here we go…
When I travel I enjoy trying local cuisines. It always provides a unique experience, and I love broadening my horizons in this way. During my extensive research and planning for our trip to Iceland, I thought a lot about what kind of food I wanted/needed to try during my time there. I came across many accounts of people eating minke whale as a kind of “when in Iceland” thing. I was immediately conflicted about this practice, and didn’t know what to think about it. So I did some research before making my conclusion about whether I should try it.
When I was in college, I didn’t give as much thought to my study abroad destination opportunities as most did. My thought process was along of the lines of:
Hmm. A semester in New Zealand and Australia…
I haven’t been there yet…
I heard they have some great surfing…
I guess I’m gonna go there.
Luckily, I did more than just surf during my time down unda. I spent a good amount of time doing school stuff, too. Which is good because it was, after all, a study abroad trip.
This ended up being the perfect trip for me in so many ways. The program was centered around Sustainability and started in Dunedin, a uni town on the southeast edge of the South Island, to gain an introduction to New Zealand’s history, culture, and environment. I then traveled out on a clockwise route around the South Island, stopping to experience a diversity of ecosystems along the way. In Kaikoura I participated in interpretive nature hikes where I learned about Maori culture and how it intertwines with the environment. spent some time in Queenstown, “the adventure capital of the world,” where I learned about glaciology and recreational ecotourism.
Among many other experiences and activities, I got to learn so much about the environmental culture of New Zealand. This is a country that values their earth and natural resources, and has truly committed to preserving them.
So, for those of you eco-conscious travelers who want to be more intentional with your adventures, New Zealand is a great destination. Here are some of my favorite ways you can have a first-hand experience with the local environment.