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How to Be a Green Traveler

You may live a sustainable lifestyle at home, but what about while on vacation? Here are some practical steps you can take to limit your impact on the environment.

Even if you strive for a sustainable lifestyle at home, it may be tempting to avoid thinking about the impact your travels could have on the environment. No one wants to feel guilty on vacation.

But the effects travelling has on the environment are significant. A study published last year by the University of Sydney found that global tourism accounts for 8 percent of total carbon emissions, three times higher than previously thought.

“As global travel is becoming cheaper and more accessible, the usage of aeroplanes, cruise ships, trains and buses is increasing and giving off a tremendous amount of carbon and other harmful substances,” said Samantha Bray, managing director of the Center for Responsible Travel, a nonprofit organization that supports sustainable tourism practices.

However, being a sustainable, or green, traveller — one who considers the impact travel has on both the physical and the cultural environments visited — is not as inconvenient as it may seem. Here are some practical steps travellers can take to limit the potential harm that comes from exploring the world.

How you choose to reach your destination may be the single most important decision when it comes to your trip’s environmental impact.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, aircraft produce 12 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases generated from transportation. Emissions from cars and other vehicles account for an even greater total percentage.

If where you’re heading is accessible by train, consider taking one.

“It’s a great way to see a destination and has a much lower carbon impact than flying,” said Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, a travel booking agency that specializes in sustainable tourism.

Avoiding flying altogether is often not an option for travelers, but the idea is to eliminate unnecessary flights when possible.

“Shorter flights and stopovers are more polluting per passenger-mile than longer flights as take off and landings generate a significant part of the total emissions per flight,” Mr. Francis said. “Try and avoid internal flights within a destination — use local public transport where possible and travel on foot or by bike to explore smaller areas.”

Read the full article at The New York Times: 

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