How to enjoy your holiday like the Earth depends on it

River Wear

A few simple choices will help you leave a positive mark during your trip away this summer, writes CAFOD volunteer Sarah George.

We all love and need a good holiday every now and then. It’s become easier and quicker to travel far and wide. But whether you visit another country or stay in the UK, the whole Earth will be counting on you to keep your eco-footprint to a minimum while you enjoy the local sights and hospitality.

How you get there

If you must fly, choose a direct flight – taking off and landing use the most energy and give off the most greenhouse gases. Check airline websites or ask your travel agent to find out what they do to keep their eco- footprint as small as possible.

Where you stay

When booking a hotel or a place to stay, look at what they have to say about their environmental practices or if they have any green credentials to their name. It’s important to know that they want to take care of both you and the planet.

What you take

Pack as light as you can. Heavier planes, trains and cars use more fuel.

Remove the packaging from any new items you plan to take with you. Better yet, put these products in reusable containers or travel bottles and bring them back home with you – that way you can be confident they will get recycled or be properly disposed of.

Make sure you bring your own reusable water bottle and shopping bags. Don’t forget to take them home with you!

What you eat

Seek out local fruit, vegetables and meat at a farmer’s market or the supermarket. Buy organic products if you can. Don’t over-shop! Just buy the amount you have the time to tuck away.

Remember, if you are visiting a hot climate, food items tend to have a shorter shelf life, even when you keep them in the fridge.

What you use

Use as few resources as you can. Turn off lights, fans, air conditioners or heating when not needed, and keep the settings low so that they use as little energy as possible. Don’t leave electronic devices plugged in when fully charged, or power sockets and extension cords switched on when not in use.

Save water. Have short showers and don’t leave the tap running while you brush teeth or wash dishes. Let your accommodation know you don’t need fresh towels or sheets every day.

Find recycling bins, if you can, to avoid your waste heading to landfill that adds to air and water pollution.

What you do

Spend your time and money enjoying local eco-attractions or eco-tours, and visiting locally-owned sites. Find out if there is a local beach clean-up or a tree-planting event you can join.

Tour around on foot or by bike. If not, use public transport if you can.

When eating out, don’t over-order and try not to leave food on the plate. Eat more veg than usual rather than meat – its production uses fewer of the world’s resources and gives off less greenhouse gases.

If you must rent a car or use a taxi, use fuel-efficient models and car pool where possible.

What you take back

Spend your hard-earned money on some local arts and crafts or locally-produced souvenirs, rather than on imported products.

Bring your empty containers and other rubbish home with you if you can to be reused or recycled.

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