Tourism carbon footprint higher than expected, here’s how to travel more responsibly

A new study recently published by Nature Climate Change, shows that tourism global footprint is 4 times bigger than previously estimated.

Analyzing 160 countries, it found that global tourism footprint grew from 3.5 to 4.5 billion metric tons of CO2 annually, which represents about 8% of global greenhouse gas emission.

This study, newly published, has already been largely debated around the internet, between news sites reporting the facts, and others telling us vacationers that we are killing the planet.

Zurich: Find local activities

However, this news mainly refers to the supply chain of travel, taking into account not only transportation, but also accommodation, restoration and shopping.

There are ways to travel responsibly, reduce your carbon footprint while traveling, and act more responsibly in general : eat local, use public transportation, shop independent, use alternative accommodation.

Eat local

Whenever going abroad, but it also works when staying home, try to eat locally produced food. This will not only be good for the environment, but it will also largely increase your satisfaction.

Most locations offers delicious local meals. Think pad thai in Thailand, bandeja paisa in Colombia, pelmeni in Ukraine. These are just a few tasty examples, but all places have their own locally produced traditional meals, which rely on local agriculture and transportation, instead of mass frozen commodities importation.

Most local meals are more likely to be found in small independent restaurants – avoid the big chains when abroad, and stay away from the burger chains.

Use public transportation

This one works everywhere, but especially when being in a new country, it is easy to be tempted to rely on taxis, uber, or even rented cars for the whole trip.

Instead, use as much as possible the local transportation systems. You might even be positively surprised ! Many cities – yes, even in undeveloped remote countries – are promoting local transportation, by creating bus specific traffic lanes, pedestrian streets, and many other local actions.

On top of that, using public transport is a great way to meet new and local people, by either asking them for directions, or joining a discussion in the bus for example.

Shop independent

For many people, shopping, especially while abroad, means visiting huge new malls, full of the same shops that can be found literally everywhere on the planet, but sometimes hoping to get better prices than at home.

Well, not only this approach will not give a great impression on another country, it will also not contribute much to the local economy, nor on the global fashion industry.

While visiting a new place, it is more advised to try to visit the local shops, independent producers, which are more likely to use traditional materials to create their garments.

Alternative accommodation

There are several alternatives to hotels, which generate a large carbon footprint, mostly due to daily cleaning and imported restaurant products.

Alternatively, why not try to stay in other people’s places ?

This solution is more suitable for single travelers than for families, however, solutions exists for everybody.

It is possible to couch surf, meaning staying on the couch of somebody else, or rent an apartment instead of staying in a large chain hotel.

Home swapping is a growing possibility – what about offering your own home to strangers, which will in exchange leave you the keys for their place for an unforgettable holiday time ?

In short

Of course, most food products, public transports, and fabrics are imported as part of an overgrowing global market.

However, following these short advises will not only help growing the local markets, it will also make your vacations more enjoyable.

Wherever going next, going local is always the best way to help the planet, and also to leave with memorable experiences in mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key contributors to tourism's carbon footprint, and what steps can travelers take to minimize their environmental impact?
Key contributors include air travel, energy use in accommodations, and unsustainable practices. Travelers can minimize impact by choosing eco-friendly transport, staying in green hotels, supporting local economies, and practicing sustainable tourism behaviors.

Michel Pinson
About the author - Michel Pinson
Michel Pinson is a Travel enthusiast and Content Creator. Merging passion for education and exploration, he iscommitted to sharing knowledge and inspiring others through captivating educational content. Bringing the world closer together by empowering individuals with global expertise and a sense of wanderlust.

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