by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer
Some seniors think that sustainable travel is not a suitable option for them, because it requires them to make extra efforts in most travel situations. However, it’s important to understand that it does not take much to be environmentally conscious during travel. Here are some tips that can help senior travelers minimize their impact on the environment.
Whether you are flying, taking a taxi or bus, or driving a car, you are part of an activity that produces harmful carbon emissions. If you need to fly, it is recommended that you choose one of over 30 airlines that belong to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These airlines have carbon offset programs that require them to reduce carbon emissions from their airplanes. When you are traveling on land, you will do less harm to the environment if you take the bus or train. If you prefer to rent a car, opt for an electric or hybrid car if available.
If the hotel where you are staying is not environmentally-friendly, you will have a greater negative impact on the environment, whether directly or indirectly. As such, it is important that you do some research first before you book your accommodation. First of all, look for a hotel that is certified by EarthCheck, Travelife, or other reputable green-certifiers. Also, find out if it has a recycling program or sustainability initiatives such as energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, rain water harvesting, solar power, or wind turbines.
One of the most environmentally detrimental aspects of shopping is the use of plastic bags. According to a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency, people around the world use about one trillion plastic bags every year, and the percentage of plastic that is recycled is less than five percent. You can do your part to reduce plastic consumption by bringing your own reusable bag when you are shopping. In addition, try not to buy imported products, because they have left large carbon footprints during transportation. Get locally-made products instead.
Water and Energy Consumption
If you are traveling to one of the popular sunny travel destinations for seniors, you will most likely have to use more water and air-conditioning to keep cool. It is advisable that you take showers instead of baths, because you can save up to 30 gallons of water per shower. Also, try to keep your showers short. If you can, avoid using the hotel’s laundry service because your clothes will usually be washed separately from other guests’ clothes, which increases water consumption. To save energy while traveling, you can make sure that the a/c, lights, and TV are all switched off before you leave your hotel room.
Unlike what some people may think, you do not have to live in a tent or cook with a solar-powered stove to be part of the sustainable travel movement. A little effort here and there can go a long way to improving the environment.