Our earth is in a state of distress.

Once you’ve travelled to the far corners of the planet, it’s near impossible to ignore the impact that humans have had on our environment.

However, there are simple things that each of us wandering the globe can do to lessen our impact on the planet and become more eco-aware. Practice these on your travels and each of your small changes will have massive impact.

Here are eight ways to be more eco-aware while Globetrotting:

1. Pick up garbage {yes, even if it's not yours}

Littering is disgusting, but it's also bad to think that it's not your problem either. I used to love garbage cleanup days as a kid. The opportunity to take a forgotten park area strewn with debris, and make it new again was invigorating.

So, if traveling and you see obvious (and not dangerous) garbage on the ground. Pick it up. Keep some plastic bags in your backpack to do so, and hand sanitizer close by to avoid dirtying your hands. Better yet- participate or join a neighbourhood cleanup in one of your travel destinations. What a great way to give back to a community you’re visiting. Bonus - you’ll meet new people.

2. Drive less, car less

Public transit is excellent in some parts of the world, and just hopeless in others. However, cars, and specifically their use of oil is extremely detrimental to the environment. Dedicate two days a week where you will walk, bike or take public transit or carpool. There are now options where you can carpool to airports or major transportation hubs through ride sharing programs like Uber.

3. Choose + buy better

Read labels before you buy clothing, food and home goods before, during and after your travels. Where was it made? What is it made from? There are certain materials and ingredients which are not only toxic to the environment during production but also post-consumption.

Depending on your travel destination, the rules and regulations around usage of certain ingredients in products may be allowed (or not allowed), so read labels carefully. Countries in the European Union are notoriously strict on labeling, whereas many developing countries will have looser requirements.

Resources to get you started:

Buying better produce --> Clean Fifteen list + Dirty dozen
Is your T-Shirt toxic? A guide to buying better clothing
Ethical consumer guide

4. Recycle

It's shocking to me when I travel in a developed country such as the United States that certain states / cities still don't have city-wide recycling programs. Ugh! Globally, recycling programs can be even worse.

Recycling is such an easy way to put materials back into the eco-system for reuse. Pre-research your travel destinations to understand their recycling programs, and try to abide by them while staying there.

8 Ways to Up Your Eco-Awareness While Travelling - @encircled_ #ecofriendly #travel 

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5. Subscribe to Feedly's environmental feeds

Feedly, or any other blog / article aggregator, is a great place to start for educating yourself on the environment, particularly in the areas which you’re planning to travel. You'll get the latest updates on initiatives, how you can take part, eco-technology developments, and the state of the environment. Knowing is caring.

6. If you can't recycle it, up-cycle it

Upcycling is the process of taking a material that is otherwise garbage, and turning it into something purposeful and useful. An opportunity for upcycling while traveling is your cosmetics.

As you use them up, wash out the containers and reuse them. They can make excellent containers for storing snacks, downsizing other cosmetics products, pill cases and more.

7. Do more with less

A controversial statement, especially for the founder of a clothing brand to make, however I firmly believe in buying better, investing in well-made clothing and other goods, and buying less. Nowhere is this more important than when you’re trekking the globe.

Every piece in your suitcase needs to serve a purpose - carefully edit your wardrobe prior to going on your adventure. There are travel packing lists available for free on the internet -- a few of my favourites are Her Packing List, Travel Fashion Girl and Hitha On the Go.

Our society has a tendency through trends like technology and fast fashion to make us want the latest and greatest ALL the time. It's taken the respect, and value out of our clothing and goods. Things are now built to fall apart, and media makes you want something you don't even need.

When you’re actually traveling and visiting a new city, think before you buy souvenirs or clothing. Ask yourself if you really need it, and if it’s crucial for creating a memory of your journey. And make thoughtful, mindful purchasing decisions.

8. Swap your beauty products for natural products

There are so many amazing travel-sized natural / organic products available to stock in your travel cosmetics case. Check out your local Sephora, drugstore or online for options.

Does your favourite lipstick brand lack a travel sized option? Look into the startup Stowaway Cosmetics. Everything is travel-perfect size, paraben and cruelty-free. They even have interchangeable ‘sets’ that you can create with your ideal makeup colours. Otherwise, squeeze the products you love into reusable travel sized bottles.

I also recommend bringing multi-purpose natural products for your travels. Many of these you can find in your own kitchen! Just be sure to check travel/country requirements before bringing them in.

One of my personal must-haves is coconut oil. It’s an effective moisturizer, conditioner, lip balm and more. Brown sugar, or salt, when mixed with coconut oil, can make a great on the go scrub. Apple Cider Vinegar is a good toner, and even some people drink it diluted for its probiotic effects.

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I hope you'll see that it's easy to make small changes on your travels that will positively impact our eco-system.
Done consistently, you'll forget you're even making a better choice as they will just become part of your life and routine.

In what ways are you eco-aware when you travel? Share your tips with us in the comments below.


A version of this post originally appeared on Encircled and has been republished with permission.