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Inspired living

7 ways to green your travel


happy family with child at the airport. parents and child girl look out the window at the airplane.

Credit: 123RF

You book a flight. You’re excited. This trip’s been a long time coming. Travelling can be an extremely wasteful and unhealthy exercise if we don’t do a little planning; however, so I’ve put together a short list of things that you can do to travel a little greener, being kind to yourself and to the planet.

A few years ago, when I travelled from Sydney to New York, through to Paris and back Home, I decided that this would be the trip that I brought my own coffee cup and water bottle rather than having it be an “at home” thing and I always kept bamboo cutlery in my bag so I’d use that, too. Just in the airports and on the flights alone, I saved 47 single-use plastic and takeaway cups from being in circulation as well as 21 pairs of cutlery. Just me, on a plane that could fit over 500 people. If we’d all brought reusables, on that one trip alone with five flight sectors, we could have collectively saved 23,500 single-use cups from being used and sent to landfill.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you your efforts don’t make a difference.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your efforts don’t make a difference. Start thinking as a collective and you’ll be motivated to continue to be the change and inspire others. The thing that I found most exciting about bringing my cute mug on the trip was that it got conversations going. “Cute mug,” people would say over and over, and we’d talk sustainability. It’s as if because it wasn’t didn’t look like an “eco item” reusable cup the pressure of the green message they weren’t respecting was defused and we were just talking about a cute mug. I’m always fascinated by what gets people starting to join the dots between their actions and the state of their health and the planet; never in a million years would I have thought that a $2 ceramic mug with “Lovely Jobely” written on it would be the thing that got people thinking.

Take your own bags

Pack a couple of reusable shopping bags to avoid plastic bags in stores. Easy, right? Pack a cool one so that you feel cool carrying it rather than one of your everyday Grocery shopping reusables.

Pack fresh produce

The food on the plane is often irritating to the gut for various reasons and lacks the freshness to sustain you and have you feeling great after even a long-haul flight. It’s a misconception that you can’t travel with food — you just can’t get OFF the plane with fresh produce. Packing what you want for the flight, however, is fine. Biscuits, crackers or baked goods can leave the plane with you, too. As can chocolate — if there’s any left.

I like to pack a mountain of crudités of cucumber, celery and carrot as well as a packet of crackers, a couple of slices of something like my fig and ginger bread and a tub of green leaves with two boiled eggs in their shells to preserve their freshness. This will do me for a 14-hour flight without having to eat the travel food.

Go “air-vegetarian”

Tick the vegetarian option if you’re pre-booking your food. Regardless of whether you eat meat or not, you can bet an airplane meal isn’t going to be grass-fed, pasture-raised or organic. Opting for vegetarian through airport outlets and on the plane sends an ever-so-gentle message: “I won’t eat factory farmed meats that I don’t know the origin of.”

Pack a lemon

Have a couple of lemon waters on the flight — a great way to keep your digestive system moving up in the air.

Fly with arnica

Pack some arnica cream or pillules. Arnica does wonders to combat in-flight inflammation; I simply don’t get those tree-trunk ankles any more on a long haul.

Handy advice

Bring a natural hand-sanitising spray that doesn’t contain all the nasties for washing your hands through the airports and plane. This way you can avoid those bright pink, highly synthetically fragranced public-bathroom options.

The green tick

Lastly, one of my favourite things to do when booking a trip is to tick the box to cover the carbon of my seat. It’s not just a gimmick and, while it doesn’t make flying any less polluting, it does provide money for the company’s kitty to fund incredible green projects around the world and for that simple, no-brainer reason I tick that box to help them do that work to bring more nature into the world.

There are many more little things you can do to travel a little greener but, as a start to get your juices going, you’ve hopefully gained a few ideas there. Here’s to your green travels, whenever they’re coming up for you. Your little efforts go a long way towards a healthier you and a healthier planet.

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