Holidays without the carbon footprint

Posted by Gareth Hargreaves

Worried about your carbon footprint? Find out how to take a holiday the eco-friendly way, and enjoy your travel too.

green travel without carbon footprintEvery holiday starts with a journey. Choosing to reduce our own carbon footprint lessens the impact of our travel on the environment, helping to preserve planet Earth's lifeforms.

Carbon emissions are produced by everyday activities such as driving or generating electricity. If humans release too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it could cause climate change, with unpleasant consequences for the human race and wildlife. The carbon emissions that an individual person generates are often referred to as your footprint, and in the Western world each person produces about three times too much to sustain our current way of life in future, if everyone created the same. So it's clearly a good idea to reduce our footprint where we can.

Holidays can make up a huge proportion of our overall footprint each year, so if you are already saving energy, recycling and so on at home, why stop the good work when you travel? If you're wondering what you can do, read on for our advice.

Air Travel

The main problem with flying is that the number of flights is increasing - more people are using air travel and they are flying more often. Clothing ourselves and heating our homes may add up to produce more carbon overall, but emissions per single flight are high, so cutting back just a little can make a real difference to your carbon footprint. Most emissions are produced during take off and landing. There are several ways to combat this.

  • Take a direct flight, rather than one that stops over.
  • Taking longer flights will reduce your pollution per mile, compared to lots of short flights.
  • Go for a longer holiday rather than several short breaks, to reduce your number of flights per year. 
  • Pick an alternative to an internal flight, and instead use a method of transport such as a train or coach. Book well ahead to keep the cost down.

Carbon Offsetting

If you do want to fly, perhaps because you are visiting a far-flung location, you can make up for it by offsetting your emissions. This means paying someone else to "neutralise" your carbon with an environmentally-friendly project.

An air travel or carbon calculator will work out how much you need to make up for depending on your destination, and you can find these at offsetting websites including Climate Care or Carbon Neutral. The government website Act On CO2 enables you to work out your entire carbon footprint, including home and appliances as well as travel.

The schemes have their detractors but if you are flying anyway they offer the opportunity to help the environment another way by investing in projects that save energy, develop renewable energy, plant trees, and so on, often in poor communities.

Seine Bight (Offset Someplace Else)At the village of Seigne Bight, Belize, for example, offsetting organisation Offset Someplace Else will work to install a waste water sewerage system that uses anaerobia bacteria to break down the waste and has no electrical requirements whatsoever. They will also install solar and hydro power systems, making use of the very sunny weather in Belize, together with the fact that Seine Bight is on the sea, to provide a reliable power source, instead of kerosene lamps and cookers. While the Garifun people will have a better standard of living and quality of life, overall carbon emissions in the area will be reduced.

Alternative Transport

If you want to try something different to the plane, which in addition to being more environmentally-friendly will be ideal for the many who don't enjoy flying, the train is an easy way to get to Europe. With the speeded-up Eurostar making journeys to France quicker, once you're there you can access anywhere across the continent on a high speed train.

Another option is to take a ferry across the channel. If you have the time, you could consider taking a longer journey by boat.

Some may prefer to travel by coach. Taking a tour is a fantastic way to meet people, and so ideal if you're a lone traveller.

Instead of hopping in the car, public transport is a good way to mingle with locals, plus you can relax and look out of the window at the scenery.

You can boost your fitness as well as reducing your carbon emissions by walking or cycling, and these are also great ways to explore an area. Bicycle hire companies around the UK and abroad mean you don't have to worry about getting your bike on the train or struggling with a car roof rack.

If you are a firm believer that the journey is as important as the destination, why not do something different and consider a holiday on a narrow boat or in a caravan?


Carbon footprint & offsetting

Travel by train

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