a woman's feed in sandals hanging over a camper van

One of many people's most common goals is to travel more

How many of us though, strive to “travel better” or “travel lighter”? The United Nations has dubbed 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism; which is pretty encouraging in itself. It’s not too late to make an addition or altercation to your resolutions to ensure your travel plans don’t cost the earth.

To get you started, I’ve narrowed down 5 easy, ethical resolutions every wanderer can adopt for their future travels.

1. Ditch the plastic


When packing your bag, there are a few things to throw in that can help you drastically cut down on your plastic usage. Packing a reusable water bottle is one. Add in water purification tablets and you can get access to drinking water no matter where you go without the need for disposable plastic bottles.

Other helpful items are bamboo toothbrushes, reusable straws, cotton carry bags and travel mugs/cutlery. By adding these items to your backpack you can ditch one-use plastic on the road.

Discarded plastic can stay in our environment forever – in fact, all the plastics ever made are still in existence. Do your part by refusing single-use plastic and by disposing of it properly. There are a number of great social campaigns out there which make picking up rubbish a community effort. I love #Take3ForTheSea – upload your photos to Instagram or Facebook and join the community today.

2. Choose mindful cosmetics

Next time you are assessing your toiletry bag and trying to determine what you need on your next adventure, pause for a moment. Is your shopping list an ethical one? Are you shopping in stores that offer sustainable products?

There are a number of great stores out there offering fair-trade, cruelty-free and vegan products at very reasonable prices. A personal favourite of mine is LUSH Cosmetics.

A simple swap in the products we purchase can give the environment a big boost. I choose to buy organic, I refuse micro-beads and I opt for soap rather than shower gel to save on packaging.

Another way to choose mindful toiletries is to avoid miniature, pre-packaged bottles. If you are travelling with hand-luggage only, invest in reusables miniatures and refill them with products from home – not only does this save packaging but means you don’t need to buy new ones every time you fly.

3. Choose second-hand

bicycle and other goods outside a thrift store

Sometimes we need to pick up a few ‘new’ items to add to our bags. Heading somewhere cold and need gloves? Going hiking and need boots? Why not shop in a second-hand store? Clothing is often in great condition, cheaper and helps support a great culture.

The clothing manufacturing industry encourages a wasteful, throw-away culture. Save yourself the money and guilt and choose second-hand.

The same goes for guidebooks! If e-books aren’t your thing, then head to your local second-hand bookstore and check out their travel section. Not only could you pick up a great guide cheaply, but you may find inspiration for your next trip.
At the end of your holiday, if there is anything you no longer need, simply drop it off to a local charity or second-hand store or leave it on your hostel's bookshelf. 

4. Buy local

This goes without saying really. It’s so easy to choose to buy food and souvenirs from local operators in your holiday destinations.

Try that street food and eat like a local, with the locals. Not only is it a great experience, but your carbon footprint is reduced. When we order food that reminds us of home (think pasta when in Asia), that food has often been trucked, shipped or flown a long way. This means that fettuccine has racked up a lot of carbon miles to get to your plate.

Alternatively, ordering a local dish (say Tom Yum Soup) will support the nearby farmers that grew the ingredients and sold it in the marketplace down the road.

When shopping for souvenirs, I like to spend a little more and invest in handmade authentic handicrafts. Often the cheaper alternatives are imported knock-offs that undermine the expert craftsmen. Bartering with shop/stall owner is also part of the fun, and not always on offer when buying from a larger store (though be mindful not to power trip and try and haggle down as much as possible).

By shopping local, not only will you really immerse yourself in the culture and deepen your experience, but you’ll be supporting a local family.

5. Travel slow

Train, bus, cycle or walk. The experience of taking time to get to your destination can truly enrich your trip and make you appreciate the time away.

Watching the scenery pass out the window or chatting to locals seated next to you can really add to the experience. You may even learn of a secret local hotspot or be invited to someone’s home for dinner.

How about a walking tour through a city or a cycling safari? These trips are generally led by locals that love their home and want to share it with visitors like you. Many work on a gratuity basis only so you pay what you feel it’s worth and help support a local family or struggling student.

Best of all, these options prevent pesky carbon emissions from aviation fuel – that’s a win-win in my book.

5 Ethical Travel Resolutions for the Responsible Traveller #ethicaltravel

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Are you ready to set some ethical travel resolutions? Perhaps your resolutions, and your backpack, just need a slight adjustment.

Regardless of how and where you travel, we can all make small changes to be more responsible and to travel ethically.

Have you made a conscious effort to travel in a way that benefits both yourself and the environment? Have you got any of your own tips to share? Tell us in the comments below.

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a woman's feed in sandals hanging over a camper van

Image source: Author's own, pexels.com & unsplash.com