How to be Eco-friendly on Vacation

The best part about summer is taking a vacation away from your every day life to explore new places, experience new cultures and to relax and unwind. No matter where you go, or which activities or accommodations you choose, it’s always a good idea to reduce your impact on the planet. To have an eco-friendly vacation you will do two things: support sustainable business practices and minimize your daily impact.

Supporting green business
This means you will actively be making choices to support green businesses and organizations that have sought out third-party sustainability certification or advice, have taken steps to improve their social/environmental impact and are doing activities that tread lighter on the planet.

Choose accommodations that are making a difference.
Visit socially and environmentally responsible attractions. These are organizations that have business sustainability plans or have been assessed by a third party, and are transparent in how they contribute to improving the planet.

Have experiences where you take photos and only leave footprints. Wildlife viewing and ziptreking are great examples of how you can have a great experience without creating any waste. Choose reputable, environmentally-focused tour operators to host your experience.

  • Human powered experiences. Plan hiking, kayaking, cycling and walking tours. Not only does this allow you to immerse yourself in the local nature and culture, you are not using greenhouse gases to have an experience. Again, find a tour or rental business that has a strong social and environmental commitment.
  • Go camping. Not only is it good for the soul to be surrounded by nature, you don’t have someone cleaning up after you by using energy to heat/cool a room, vacuum up your crumbs and wash the sheets.
  • Support local green businesses when buying gifts. If you are going to buy gifts, choose handcrafted, artisan goods that have a story behind them and are unique to the places you visit. Make sure you don’t purchase items that contribute to habitat destruction or contain endangered species (such as ivory, coral, etc.)
  • Eat at restaurants offering local and organic food.

Minimizing your impact
How you go through each day while on vacation can have a huge impact on the environment. You’re away from your home and have minimal space in your luggage, therefore the convenience to use temporary and disposable is attractive. Here are some ideas to plan ahead to make sure you don’t leave a trail of waste and toxins behind you while you travel.

  • Carry your own coffee mug. Imagine going on a trip where you didn’t use one single disposable cup?
  • Bring a refillable water bottle. Many green hotels and public places offer a filtered bottle filling station.
  • Conserve water, energy and waste everywhere you go. Say no the newspaper, turn off the lights when you leave the room and turn the tap off when you brush your teeth, (Just like at home).
  • Make a point to walk, cycle or take transit as much as possible. Plan your accommodation to be near transit stops, walkable areas or choose a place that offers free bike rentals.
  • Bring natural sunscreen (which only has Zinc and possibly Titanium as the active ingredients). Not only is it better for your health, you won’t leave a trail of greasy sunscreen behind you while swimming. Check out this guide to the best natural sunscreen brands.
  • Use natural insect repellant. Spraying a mixture of essential oils on yourself seems like a better idea than irritating chemicals, but make sure you test some brands in advance to see what works for you. Here’s a DIY recipe.
  • Bring the right gear. Plan ahead on what you need to take for the trip you’re on. Avoid buying cheap, last minute supplies rather than having high quality shoes, equipment and luggage for the type of trip you want to take.

Are you thinking about heading out to Vancouver Island or the Okanagan Valley soon? Check out our posts: Eco-friendly Vacation Guide – Vancouver Island and Eco-friendly Vacation Guide – Okanagan Valley.