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Credits to: Chagrin Valley Soap

Have you ever considered solid toiletries, such as bar soaps, shampoos and conditioners? These are great options for travelers, as they are considerably lightweight and do not contain gels or liquids.

These bars also create positive impacts for the environment because of their package-free nature. According to UK-based Lush Cosmetics, the pioneer of bar shampoos, over 552 million bottles sold each year are from shampoo, and over 80% of the trash found on beaches are from plastic packaging. In addition, Euromonitor recently reported more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold annually by 2021. This demand is equal to approximately 20,000 bottles sold every second and most will end up in the landfill or ocean. This figure does not include other waste, such as additional packaging, plastic bags, or discarded goods.

Intended to last for about 80 washes, one shampoo or conditioner bar from Lush is equivalent to three regular sized bottles of their liquid counterparts. Other brands have followed suit in this plastic-free beauty movement, including Ethique (New Zealand), Beauty & the Bees (Australia), Basin (USA), Friendly Soap (UK), and Chagrin Valley (USA).

Besides eliminating the need for plastic and packaging, here are some benefits to switching from bottles to bars:

1. One bar goes a long way.

2. They are small and lightweight.

3. Support small or independent companies.

4. Many are cruelty-free and use all-natural products

5. They can go on your carry-on luggage!

To get more tips on sustainable hair and skincare products when travelling read our previous Green Tip on this topic.

Sustainability starts from taking small actions that gradually become environmentally responsible habits. Happy washing and happy travels!

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For many, resolutions don’t last longer than the first month of the year. Don’t overwhelm yourself on the first week of the year and try this step-by-step resolution guide. With a little effort you can make a big difference in maintaining a sustainable lifestyle!

January: Walk, bike or use public transport

The effects on the environment of using the car are many and of course, all negative. This phenomenon represents 20% of the worlds total carbon dioxide pollution according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

February: Be a sustainability ambassador

Climate change is an issue that concerns everyone living on this planet. Many people are not aware of the consequences individual behavior can cause on the environment, so please spread the word. We as consumers and users should take responsibility of our actions and let people know that we should take care and motivate a conversion into responsible citizens.

March: Stop accepting single-use plastics

Plastic usage has become an increasingly hot topic over the past year, parallel to an increase in awareness campaigns about the health of our oceans. Plastic pollution directly  affects the livelihood of marine life and consequently finds its way into the food chain, affecting us humans. To get tips on how to accomplish this resolution click here.

April: Eat local

Transportation is one of the biggest causes of air pollution. By consuming local food and therefore, cutting down on food miles, you are diminishing the ecological impact of your food as overseas plane flights or long truck rides are not needed. To find out more reasons why is this good for the environment press here.

May: Reduce meat and dairy

As explained in our previous Green Tip, cutting down your meat and dairy consumption is one of the main ways to reduce your environmental footprint.

June: Avoid wasting food

This one is definitely a win-win situation as if you complete this resolution you will not only help the environment but as well take care of your wallet. A recommendation would be to set a weekly menu and buy purely what the menu states. PATA has been campaigning against food waste with its BUFFET initiative.

July: Use ecofriendly sunscreen

Not many people know that regular sunscreen is very damaging to most natural species living in the seas and oceans, specially to coral reefs. Nevertheless, it is indeed a problem that must be fixed, and we can do this by buying reef-friendly sunscreen available in most organic stores or herbalists. Some examples are:
Raw Elements Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Reef Safe (SPF 30+) 
Blue Lizard Sunscreen, Sensitive (SPF 30+)
Thinksport Oxybenzone Free Sunscreen (SPF 50+)

For more tips on travel essentials press here.

August: Eat seasonally

Apart from looking out for the environment (by reducing food miles for food brought in out of season), you would be supporting local farmers instead. Seasonal produce is guaranteed to be fresher and tastier.

September: Give a wide berth to printing

It is quite obvious that there is nowadays less need to utilize paper. Starting from emails, to E-tickets and E-books it seems that printing is a thing of the past, and our mother Earth loves it!

October: Turn off your devices at night

Once you are off to bed, you likely won’t be using your phone or computer. Normally, we think about turning off lights, but we don’t usually turn off devices such as the wi-fi or unplugging our microwave.

November: Use cold water for your laundry

Washing clothing in hot water is not always the best option – some clothes may shrink, and others may see stains being set in. Use cold water to treat your clothing gently, and reduce the amount of energy used to heat water. You will surely see a difference in your energy or gas bills.

December: Resist excessive consumerism

Christmas is quintessentially the month of absurd consumerism- simple living has been underestimated for decades, especially during this time of the year. Just think about where all these commodities will end up when you find no more utility to it, or even all the indirect aspects of it such as the packaging, the transportation and the clutter. If you need tips on how to reduce it press here.


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Being a sustainable traveller means also making a conscious decision about your fashion choices. Your sustainable fashion statement will surely leave a positive impact on the places you visit.

Studies have shown that people are willing to pay more in the name of sustainability and ethical fashion; therefore, it would be wise for companies to think in terms of the triple bottom line. Here are some tips on how you can make a difference by engaging in sustainable fashion.

  1. Get yourself an experience:

When visiting culturally rich countries with exquisite local crafts, why not go one step further and visit the artisans themselves. This way, you gain an authentic experience with the locals and some great memories too.

  1. Demand transparency:

Many big-name brands may claim to be sustainable, but it might be a facade to attract more customers. One of the ways you can check whether a company is serious about sustainability or not, is by visiting their website and having a look at their policies.

A transparent supply-chain is another good sign. If a company does not explicitly list its suppliers, you can send them an inquiry yourself. Getting a response is an indicator that, at the very least, they care about their customers. The complexity of supply-chains makes it difficult to assess companies and their ethical sourcing practices.

You can browse The Good Shopping Guide and Oxfam’s Naughty or Nice List to see where certain brands lie in terms of transparency and sustainability.

  1. Look for accreditation

Look for these certifications and labels to induce whether or not your item of clothing qualifies as ethical fashion.

  1. Don’t fall so fast:

Fast fashion is a phenomenon sweeping the globe. Many brands produce clothes that are meant to be discarded quickly. This is adding to the problem of pollution, not just due to clothing that ends up in landfill, but also because of the wasted resources used to make these clothes. In fact, the fashion industry is the second largest contributor to our planet’s pollution plight. Clothes should be a long-term investment. Support companies and brands that understand and address the issue of fast fashion.

So it all boils down to this: go the extra mile, do the research and make an effort to choose what’s right because your decisions have the power to instigate change.

Further reading:

Factory Girls, by Leslie T. Chang

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Cline

Read more on how you can be a sustainable traveller by packing eco-friendly travel essentials.

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King salmon at Bristol Bay in Alaska, 2013.

A Seattle restaurateur has stopped offering chinook salmon at her restaurants. Renee Erickson, chef and owner of a group of restaurants, including The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, said she made the decision after learning about the plight of J50, the young, ailing orca whale.

“This really tipped the scale for me, being a native Northwesterner and someone who cares about our environment,” said Erickson. “I felt there was no reason to keep buying chinook.”

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, is the main food source for Puget Sound-based orcas. Biologists say the scarcity of chinook salmon in recent years has been hard on these whales, whose numbers have dwindled to 75.

Erickson says customers can enjoy other types of salmon.

Read the full article here.

By Ruby de Luna for Kuow.

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Did you know that August is Water Quality Month? Water is the source of all life on Earth, it is one of the major factors that make our planet unique. Humankind is in a position to impact this precious resource; the nature of the impact, positive or negative, is ultimately up to us. Here are 10 tips that will help you preserve water quality and shift to a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Avoid anti-bacterial soaps because these contain ingredients, such as triclosan, that do more harm than good. Regular soaps aren’t as bad, but the detergents in them can disrupt the water’s surface tension, and the soapy residue that seeps into a water source can promote algae growth. Try using biodegradable soap and shampoo, they have the least negative environmental impact. If you can’t find something that suits you, try DIY!
  2. Always remember to turn off the tap when not in use. Don’t let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth!
  3. Install low flow shower heads and opt for taking showers instead of baths.
  4. Use non-toxic cleaning products in the kitchen, regular cleaners contain alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), these are surfactants that break down into more toxic compounds and do not easily biodegrade in soil and water. They also contain phosphates, which promote undesirable algal growth in water.
  5. Dispose of food waste in an organic waste bin instead of dumping it down the kitchen sink.
  6. Spruce up your car by taking it to a car wash instead of hosing it down yourself. The professionals flush down chemicals into the sewer as opposed to the storm drain.
  7. Instead of using chemical fertilisers/pesticides while gardening, use EMs They are better for your health and the environment.
  8. If you’re going camping, stay at least 200 ft away from water sources while washing and cleaning, keep this in mind even if you’re using biodegradable products. (Check out our guide to having a sustainable outdoor adventure here.)
  9. Always pick up after your pets and dispose of their waste properly. Waste from pets, such as dogs, can mess up the pH balance of the soil. If the waste gets washed into a water body, it will negatively impact the marine life as well.
  10. Don’t dump medicine down the drain. This can pollute the water, expose marine life to harmful chemicals and end up back in our drinking water. Here are options for safe disposal.

Now you’re all set to be a custodian of water quality this month. Remember to spread the message to motivate your friends and family to dive in with you.

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In our continuing efforts to reduce waste and educate our staff, the PATA Green Team organized a workshop at our Bangkok HQ on August 7, 2018. We invited guest speakers from Tavises – Magic Eyes to conduct the workshop.

“Ah! Ah! Don’t litter. Magic Eyes are watching you” is a merry jingle many Gen X Thais are familiar with, and thanks to the efforts of this organisation, the concept will be passed down to future generations.

The speakers, Pa and Nat, introduced their organisation and their mission. They gave an overview of waste management in Thailand and discussed the 5 Rs – reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and reject – to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Pa and Nat emphasised the idea of refusing to use single-use plastics – especially plastic bags, straws and cups – proposing alternates to single use items such as tote bags instead of plastics bags, reusable tumblers, handkerchiefs instead of tissues/paper towels and reusable cutlery.

To drive the dangers of single-use plastics home, they shared some nerve-wracking facts about plastic pollution:

           

The group shared various ideas about how individuals can manage their waste properly, and how upcycling can be put into practice to give new life to items that would otherwise be thrown away. The speakers concluded their presentation with a poignant video showing humankind’s general exploitative attitude towards the planet.

Today, Lankaow Waan catered our lunch, chosen for not just their delicious food, but also for their recycled and compostable packaging.

     

Efforts made by organisations such as Tavises – Magic Eyes and Lankaow Waan will help educate the world about the benefits and importance of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. The workshop helped put things into perspective and reminded everyone how important it is to be mindful of the decisions each one of us makes.

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Playtime is crucial to children’s healthy brain development; it is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

Whether you are acquiring toys for the special children in your life, or for a play area for your property or restaurant, remember that your choices can make an impact both socially and environmentally.

Here are 7 tips on how you can go about choosing the right toys for kids: 

  1. Look it up

Before purchasing a toy, look it up online to make sure there are no recall notices.

To check if the toy you want to purchase is safe, try looking it up on Healthy Stuff. They have a database of products that you may use to your advantage.

  1. Check for labels

Familiarise yourself with symbols on product labels so that you can avoid toys that may have harmful substances like lead, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) etc.

If a label is missing, look up the toy online and check if there are any complaints about it.

  1. Shop local

By buying from local vendors, you support the local community and bring down the need for importing products from far-flung places; this subsequently reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well.

  1. Buy second hand

Children grow out of their toys so quickly ­– they lose their lustre or they move past a certain developmental phase. Look out for yard sales, and check your local consignment store or Salvation Army for deals! You’ll be surprised to find many new toys still in the box. On the flip side, when your children grow out of their toys that still have lots of life left, save them for nieces and nephews, donate them, or sell them on a local Facebook group! Make a buck while saving more items from landfill.

  1. Select the right material

Try to avoid buying plastic toys whenever you can because, they can often contain various chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to your little ones and the environment.

Consider toys made from more natural materials, such as wood, wool, and cotton. If you’re buying puzzles and books, check to see if natural inks were used on recycled and biodegradable materials.

  1. Get creative

Perhaps exercise your creativity and handcraft something for your kids to play with. Here are some fun DIY projects you can try. Other favourite resources include:

  1. Steer clear of batteries

Batteries pose a threat to the environment because of the toxic waste they release upon disposal. They are also a choking hazard for your little rug rats. Therefore, instead of opting for battery-powered products, go for ones where your kids have the freedom to bring the toys to life with pure, unadulterated imagination.

Sustainable toys will not only ensure a safe and happy childhood for your kids, but it will also help secure the world for generations to come. It’s a win-win!

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Fancy sipping a smoothie, long drink, coconut water or any other beverage using a straw? Make sure to make the sustainable choice when doing so. In short, refuse single-use plastic straws and choose a reusable alternative. These decisions are key to making our world a cleaner and better place.

Single-use plastic straws simply do not have a place in our society as they don’t get along with our environment. Although single-use plastic straws amount to only a tiny fraction of plastic pollution in our ocean, their small size and light weight makes them one of the most insidious polluters. Not making their way into the recycling bins, plastic straws cause beach pollution and threaten the life of many marine animals.

We therefore invite you to pick a reusable drinking straw of your preference, always keeping it with you and spreading the word to encourage others to join the movement in reducing and preventing plastic waste that harms our environment.

  • Bamboo: Go back to nature with a natural and reusable bamboo straw. They are not only durable but also beautiful. They often come with a handy cleaning brush to wash them out for years of use. You can find some more tips for cleaning and being nice to your straw here.
  • Silicone: Light and unbreakable, silicone is great for its practicality. Choose a silicone straw made from high quality food grade silicone that will help you save plastic straws from polluting our environment and protect your teeth.
  • Stainless-steel: Prefer a very durable and elegant option? Go with a stainless-steel drinking straw which is stain-free, rustproof, and scratch-proof. You won’t have to worry about metallic aftertaste. If you like fine cutlery, complete your silverware collection by purchasing a set of stainless steel straws. Read more about benefits of going stainless-steel here.
  • Glass: Looking for something classy? Go glassy with a clear lead-free glass straw alternative. The durable straws are shatterproof and are ideal for both hot and cold drinks. Both ends are smooth and round which makes the straw comfortable to use and safe. Choose the style and size that suits your lifestyle.
  • Acrylic: This option may be perfect to use in your tumblers. Go with an innovative, reusable, acrylic straw which can bend like normal straws. From birthday parties to holiday get-togethers, colorful reusable straws from food-safe plastic increase the fun at any gathering.

Apart from these, we invite you to chew on innovative ideas such as edible straws. Check out these Eatapple straws which are made from leftovers of Germany’s apple juice production.

Interested in fighting the war against straws? Be inspired by some examples here.

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A recent research from The Ocean Cleanup shows that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comprises an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of rubbish and is more than 16 times bigger than previously thought. With 8 million tons of plastic leaking into the ocean every year, all litter in our oceans harm over 600 marine species. Publicly taking a pledge to reduce plastic by saying “NO” to plastic water bottles or single-use straws in order to help the environment is a good start, however many of us struggle to go the extra and most important step: consuming accordingly!

With these apps, refusing and reducing plastic in your daily life is made easy, even when you are travelling:

1. WeTap

About: Thirsty? Ditch the plastic bottle with this drinking fountain app. WeTap allows you to find public water fountains easily. You can also assist other by adding new ones to the public database. Utilising and appreciating tap water – both the quality and access – is an important step in ensuring our water remains safe, tasty, and protected. Download the app here.

Where you can use it: worldwide

2. RefillMyBottle

About: Be it a hotel, a shop, warung or retreat business, a group of sustainable businesses on Bali have teamed up to offer travellers the opportunity for a bottle refill of clean water from a gallon or Nazava water filter. RefillMyBottle is a great showcase of the tourism industry’s commitment in preserving Bali’s eco-system. To map the initiative, RefillMyBottle has published an easily accessible Google map of all the places where you can refill your water bottle. Check the map to find the location of the nearest refill point or look for the RefillMyBottle sticker in the window of the establishment to refill your bottle! Download the app here.

Where you can use it: currently in Indonesia, expanding to Thailand and Vietnam

3. Zero Waste Home

About: Find, add and rate bulk locations near you and throughout the world using Bulk Finder. Shop without needless plastic wrappings and packaging. On the Zero Waste blog, you can further find information about living a Zero Waste lifestyle. Download the app here.

Where you can use it: worldwide

Another map (website-based) that provides a directory of packaging-free shops, borrowing shops and other facilities that promote a more environmentally-friendly and sensible consumption is the Zero Waste Map. The map is primarly for use in in Central Europe, however you can also enter new locations for relevant categories, upload your own images and exchange ideas in the forum with other interested members.

You can also learn more about plastic in our oceans with the MY LITTLE PLASTIC FOOTPRINT APP (Beta Version). This app provides fun facts on how to reduce the use of plastic. You can play an interactive quiz, use a Plastic Footprint calculator and learn how to adopt healthy habits regarding plastic consumption. The app also lets you spread awareness among your friends.

 

Interested in more apps that can help you embrace a sustainable lifestyle? Check out three more here.

 

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Guest blogger Jackie Edwards gives tips on how to make daily choices that help you to green up the air inside of your home.

Credit: Shutterstock

 

Studies show that the concentration of air pollutants can be two to five times higher inside than outside. Often, this is related to cooking practices. Molecules and toxin such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulates. These contaminants can cause health problems like headaches, dizziness, and chronic diseases.

As a population moving towards a greener future, it is vital that we think about the inside of our homes as well as the outside environment. For this reason, we want to cover tips on how to green up the air inside of your home. These daily choices can help you live a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle.

No Smoking Please

If you or someone in your household smokes cigarettes, a pipe, or cigars, consider making the rule that there is no smoking allowed inside. This household rule will help to keep the inside of your home free from the particulates that such smoking habits generate. Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) has been shown to contain approximately 4,000 compounds, at least 40 of which have been linked to cancer.

Cooking Ventilation

Do you cook or heat your home with solid materials such as wood or coal? The little particles and carbon monoxide gases emitted by cooking materials are sources of pollution in the home. Get into the habit of ventilating the places in your house where cooking is done. This habit will help you keep the air clean. Read more about clean cookstoves

House Plants Can Help

Plants can be thought of as filters for the air. Within the environmental movement, we often see people protecting forests or planting new trees because trees contribute to the greening of the Earth’s atmosphere. The air inside of our homes can also benefit from the greenery. Keep a small house tree or potted plants with plenty of green leaves.

Green Building Materials

The building materials used in your home’s construction will affect the air inside of your house. Whenever you add something to your environments, such as paint, carpet, insulation, flooring, or furniture, research the material first. Look for materials that have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) rating.

The air inside of your home can become polluted, just as the air over an entire city can be dense with smog. To keep the air inside of your home clean and pollutant free, you can work on building up a few healthy habits. Never allow smoking inside, and always keep your cooking area well ventilated. Include houseplants in your decorating scheme, and only use building materials, furniture, and paint that are safe and environmentally friendly.

 

See more of Jackie’s writing: 

A little closer to home: sustainable everyday life choices

A guide to sustainable travel for seniors

Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers

How to choose an eco-friendly hotel

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