Sun, sea, sand, relaxation… It’s easy to go on holiday and leave all of your cares behind – and quite right too! Although you can leave all your other responsibilities at home, there’s still one thing we should think about whilst we’re on our jollies. The environment.
Because the concern for the environment is growing, more and more people are opting for sustainable holidays. Be it eco-friendly yurts through to energy conscious 5* hotels, the number of options are varied and growing. And as climate change affects tourism (rising sea levels, deforestation and the melting of glaciers being just three examples), isn’t it worth considering the impact our holidays might have on the environment?
So if you think that greener holidays might be your cup of tea too, here are our top tips for being more environmentally conscious this summer:
1. Understand carbon emissions from the worst offenders
Carbon is one of the biggest threats to our environment, so as you plan your holiday, think about ways you can limit your footprint. Some travel methods are criticised for using up lots of fuel and generating too much waste; flights have been criticised for adding as much carbon in one flight to your carbon footprint as a year’s worth of driving.
But that’s not to say we should abandon holidays in far-flung places or trips on the high seas. But we can do our bit by considering the more environmentally friendly options when we do have to hop on that ship or plane. Check the Friends of the Earth annual report card for the most environmental cruise ships, or look for your airline’s environmental policy. Lots of airlines are investing in alternative fuels and efficiency plans, and by flying with them you can support a greener outlook.
2. Consider alternative ways of getting around
Whilst airlines are improving and shouldn’t be totally off the agenda, it’s still worth thinking about the greenest ways of travelling wherever you can. Try to avoid short haul flights whilst exploring a country – instead, look for super trains that will allow you to take in some of the scenery as you travel. Local buses and rickshaws will also give you a more authentic experience than hiring a car, and will give you the opportunity to explore parts of your destination you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
3. Explore countries with a green IQ
Ever fancied Copenhagen or Vancouver? These countries are well-known for their green credentials, so their infrastructure is set up with energy-saving and carbon consciousness in mind.
Let’s take Copenhagen – the capital of Denmark is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world and getting around on two wheels is one of the most breath-taking (and enjoyable!) ways to take in the city. Then there’s Vancouver, which is often billed as the cleanest city in Canada. Amongst their ambitions for a sustainable future, the city aims to tie economic prosperity to the development of renewables and improve the prospects of both the city and its people.
4. Stay with an eco-friendly host
Phew, you’ve made it to the hotel. But what is their water policy? How do they generate their energy? What’s the deal with all that smoke coming out of the chimney? Whether you’re in a hotel, B&B or campsite, it’s worth checking on how your accommodation thinks about sustainability.
Take a look at TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders scheme, which ranks accommodation by commitment to recycling, local produce and renewable resources. You can also check Travelife, whose sustainability scheme grants awards to the most environmentally conscious hotels.
5. Don’t forget about the little things…
Take shorter showers to save water – especially in countries where water is a precious resource. Also remember to hang up your towels, rather than dropping them in the bath, so that housekeeping don’t wash them unnecessarily. It’s also smart to choose local souvenirs for friends and family – they tend to be made of locally produced material, so you can feel good for supporting the community too.
6. … And ask them the right questions
What do you do to save energy? What are you energy sources? The hotel industry is becoming more and more aware that by reducing their energy consumption, they can significantly reduce their impact on the environment and make a difference to their bottom line. Hotels currently spend the majority of their energy consumption on heating rooms and swimming pools, alongside the hundreds of lights that are almost always left switched on.
E.ON has helped hotels like The Grove in Hertfordshire identify areas where they can save energy and be more energy efficient. The Grove has now invested in solar panels, water 59turbines and aerated showers to stay as green as possible. They also use energy efficient LED lights to fulfil all of their luxury lighting needs – and the place looks pretty atmospheric!
Other questions to ask include: what’s your recycling policy? What materials were used in the construction and maintenance of the property? How do you integrate the hotel with the local environment and community? For example, the Campi ya Kanzi was made by the local Maasai people from trees that had already fallen, whilst the Whitepod in Switzerland is self-supporting.
The market for eco-friendly hotels and lodges is growing and organisations such as the Green Hotels Association, who aim to bring together hotels that are interested in environmental issues, are questioning the norms and helping to push the tourism industry in the right direction.
Going on holiday can be one of the best parts of the year – so increase that good time feeling by watching your carbon footprint while you’re enjoying yourself.
And if you’re passionate about sustainability closer to home, check out our tips and tools on saving energy in your household, or our five easy steps to save energy for your business.
Our Feed-In-Tariffs also help you to keep on helping the environment. Feed-in tariffs are a government initiative to encourage people to generate their own low-carbon energy. And because at E.ON we’re committed to helping, we will pay you for the energy you produce.