Backpacking around Australia is a dream come true for many young people. The breathtaking splendour of The Outback, watching the New Year fireworks in Sydney, and learning to surf on Bondi beach: when you have such adventures on your mind (not to mention the heavy rucksack on your back) it’s easy to forget the negative impact everyday actions can have upon our world.

Booking flights to Sydney – or Melbourne, Perth or wherever – can’t be avoided (it is an island, after all) but once you arrive you can work towards offsetting some of the damage by watching your carbon footprint. Although being carbon neutral is sometimes hard, there are habits that can easily be changed to leave our world unspoiled and your conscience clear.

The first thing is to limit the amount of technology you bring with you. You might think that it’s essential to have a laptop, camera, and mobile phone with you, but in reality these gadgets use a vast amount of electricity and are unnecessary. There are Internet café’s in the majority of Australian cities, and most hostels provide PC’s with Internet connection for backpackers to use.

If you do bring a lot of gadgets, invest in a solar charger or remember to unplug them once they are finished charging. It’s easy to forget, as you’re not paying the electricity bill, but unplugging your gadgets when they’re not in use saves electricity and consequently reduces your carbon footprint.

Consider how to get around once you arrive in Australia. If you’re travelling a long distance, try to avoid booking flights. Are you really going to experience Australia properly at 30,000 feet? For local expeditions, rent a bicycle or walk. You will find that this not only benefits the planet, but also benefits your own health and wellbeing.

Staying hydrated is important, particularly in the heat of Northern Australia. But did you know that bottled water has a huge negative impact on the environment? Each year 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste are created by bottled water alone; this requires 47 million tonnes of oil to produce. You can buy re-usable aluminium water bottles in good outdoor stores to top up with filtered tap water.

Bring your own quick-drying reusable travel towel. Most hostels will offer you a towel to take with you into the bathroom, but if you have your own towel you will be able to save on electricity as you’re reducing the amount of laundry that the hostel needs to do.

Using the basic principles of being green, you can leave Australia as beautiful as it was when you arrived. Remember to dispose of your rubbish (remember the principles of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle), use local businesses instead of chains, and avoid taxicabs unless it’s really necessary.

James writes for

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