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How to be a more sustainable traveller

How to be a more sustainable traveller

Harry and Meghan have really kicked off the conversation around unsustainable travel. The pair are used to flitting around the globe on private jet - as many royals and celebs

September 9th, 2019

Harry and Meghan have really kicked off the conversation around unsustainable travel.

The pair are used to flitting around the globe on private jet – as many royals and celebs are. But after being called out on their luxe commutes, the pair has set about cleaning up their acts.

They now travel on commercial airlines and Harry’s even launched his own sustainable travel initiative called Travalyst.

Royals aside, travel lovers tend to be a pretty woke set of people.

We want to experience different cultures, fresh ways of thinking, and alternative sights, smells and tastes.


Despite our desperation to trek hundreds of miles in order to see the sunrise from a different bed however, many of us wildly expand our carbon footprints during our travels.

After spending hours on a carbon-guzzling plane, we then continue to wreak destruction with our plastic bottled water buying and DEET mosquito sprays.

But it’s not hard to be greener on the road. We can still enjoy our beautiful planet without destroying it.

A really easy place to start is in reducing how much plastic you use on the move.

It’s not just the fact that plastic doesn’t biodegrade; plastic pieces attract cancer, hormone-disrupting, diabetes-causing chemicals the longer they stay in the sea. And that plastic then enters the fish we eat, the water we drink and the salt we use.

And that bioaccumulation of plastic – the fact that it’s getting into our food chain – should freak us out. You can cut a huge amount of your own exposure to it going vegan… but you’ve still got to drink water and use salt for seasoning.

Meanwhile, according to a report by Luggage Hero, Brits rank #1 in Europe and #3 in the world for highest carbon emissions from air travel. We produce 27.39 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – just behind the USA and China (two much bigger countries).

Don’t fret; you can still travel without burning the world to the ground.

So, here are a few tips sustainable globetrotting:

1. BYO keep cups and refillable bottles

We’re getting used to handing our bamboo cups over at Pret for our midweek lattes or using a S’well bottle down the gym, but how many of us remember our keep wear when we go on holiday?

Loads of airports now offer water fountains to fill up after going through security, while all-nighter street coffee chains will give you free tap water.

On holiday, drinking coffee in a street-side cafe is a total luxury. Stop, enjoy and drink from the crockery provided. If, however, you have planes or trains to catch, whip out your trust keep cup and save on the plastic.

Try a S’well Stainless Steel Travel Mug (£30, Amazon) which can keep drinks cool for 24 hours or hot drinks hot for 12.

2. Pack water purifying tablets

When you’re travelling somewhere super exotic, it can be tempting to rely on bottled water. After all, no one wants to risk spending their holiday staring down the inside of a toilet for the sake of a drink.

But you can buy water purifying tablets which take all the nasties away.

One tablet purifies one litre of clear water; simply drop one in and give it a shake. Wait for 30 minutes and you’re good to drink, cook, clean your teeth, wash food etc. Just remember to avoid any water that looks cloudy or muddy – or doesn’t come from an actual tap.

Purify your evening water before you leave for the day and stick it in your fridge, and purify your morning water before you go to bed – then you’ve got a constant ready-made supply.

Try Boots Micropur Water Purification Tablets Extra Strength (£7.99 for 50 tablets, Boots)

3. Travel slower

We’re always in a desperate hurry to get to places but half of the joy of travelling is in the journey rather than the destination. Going by land is also a lot more carbon-friendly than traveling by air.

Wanting to explore Europe? Try interrailing. Want to see America? A Greyhound bus will take you all over. Asia has incredible, old railways that are worth seeing.

There’s life outside of air terminals – travelling slower will make the ultimate destination even sweeter.

4. But if you have to fly, say yes to non-stop flights

Journeys with stop-overs may be slightly cheaper but flying non-stop reduces the amount of CO2 and energy emitted because planes aren’t having to take off more than once.

25% of fuel is consumed during take off – once you’re airborne, the plane actually becomes way more energy efficient.

It also means you can get stuck into the inflight booze trolley without worrying about having to get off any time soon…

5. Choose green airports


What makes an airport green? Well, some have pretty extensive recycling schemes, sustainable building designs, reduced noise pollution, and emission controls for airport vehicles.

Boston Logan International, Zurich, and East Midlands Airports have all been recognised for their environmental efforts.

6. Pack lighter

It’s a tall ask for most of us but it is worth taking a capsule wardrobe rather than a million different dinner dress options – and not just because it’ll help you avoid any excess charges.

The more your baggage weighs, the more the plane has to carry – making it less carbon-efficient.

7. Choose fish-friendly sunscreen

An estimated 14,000 tonnes of suncream ends up in the ocean every year as a result of us slapping on the factor 50 and heading out for a refreshing dip.

While being sun-safe is obviously a good thing, not all SPFs are equal in the impact they have on the environment.

Many are packed with chemicals that poison coral reefs and fish populations.

Avoid products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, and look instead for mineral-based SPF formulas with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Try creams like REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 Mattifying Broad Spectrum Face Suncream (£30, lookfantastic.com) which is vegan, cruelty-free and totally free of chemical nasties – all while boasting pollution-resistant properties.

8. Try a plant-based adventure

Going vegan is one of the best things you can do for the planet. If you can’t face a life without Brie however, why not just commit to plant-based life in the run-up to your travels?

Alternatively, try setting yourself a challenge of being vegan for your next trip. Loads of us end up eating pretty boring stuff when we’re travelling (meat and veg…seafood and salad) but apps like HappyCow and TripAdvisor are bursting with veggie-friendly recommendations all over the world. Chances are, you may start exploring areas more if you’re not tempted to nip into the first bistro you come to.

Remember too that not every country has the same animal welfare standards when it comes to meat and dairy so if you are concerned with how your dinner died, you may want to opt for a safer, plant-based option.

9. Borrow what you don’t already own

We consume way too much these days – with much of what we buy ending up in landfill.

Rather than buying new stuff before you jet off, see if you can borrow items from your mates. Going trekking but don’t have a suitable backpack? Why not put a shout out on social media to borrow someone else’s? You’ll be saving cash and energy for something you may only use a few times at most.

10. Go the path less travelled

Over-tourism has become a massive problem in certain parts of the world.

While many countries rely on tourism for their economy, the holiday industry has destroyed some areas by pricing local renters and business out, log jamming narrow roads with tourist vehicles and scaring wildlife away.

Thailand’s Maya Bay (made famous by The Beach), for example, has been liked to New York’s Time Square due to the numbers of people turning up – desperate for the perfect Instagram. It’s now been closed in a bid to preserve what’s left of it.

Venice is the front line in the battle against over-tourism in Europe – a sinking city which sees 25 million visitors a year. By 2025, experts believe it’ll be receiving 38 million tourists annually.

The solution? Go to lesser-known places.

Instead of Venice, try somewhere like Slovenia. Skip Bali for Raja Ampat (also in Indonesia). Instead of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, visit Myanmar’s Bagan (a complex of 2,200 temples).

In an ideal world, no one would fly and we’d all be content with going off-grid for months at a time. But time is precious; we don’t want to waste what little time we have on this planet not seeing as much as possible – and sharing our treasures.

Being greener is all about doing what we can.

While there’s no such thing as ‘offsetting’ carbon emissions, you can commit to making small changes like being more conscious about the products you buy and their impact on the environment or reducing your luggage load.

Happy sustainable travels!



Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.