Living green presents its many difficulties that are often solved by simple planning and preparation, but when we hit the road and travel our levels of consumption shoot up as we are engaging in a relatively infrequent activity that doesn’t feature in our daily attempts at sustainability.
The layout of Australia doesn’t particularly help out either, with most of the population stretched along the coasts making a round trip impossible and with a significant land mass separating East from West, travelling in Australia can be an environmental nightmare.
However, here are a few tips and pointers that can help minimize the negative effects of travelling, and are particularly applicable to the East Coast of Australia, one of the most travelled backpacking routes in the world.
Slow Travel: If you can, slow down and take travel at a more relaxing pace
Speed and convenience are two classic factors that lead us to over consume. If you have the luxury of time then use it, primarily by changing your transport method to anything but a plane! As the East Coast of Australia is so vast, many people simply travel it by hopping from one spot to the next by plane. But travelling along the ground is the best way to instantly cut your carbon footprint.
With many cities, towns and settlements along the entire coastline, as well as unrivalled beaches and national parks this is not just environmentally friendly but also camera friendly, all of which you’d miss if you flew over in a plane from say Sydney to Brisbane.
Camping encourages us to cut down on our use of energy thirsty appliances. Washing the dishes in a bowl and hanging the clothes out to dry on a washing line are two great examples, also think of camping equipment you can purchase such as solar powered showers or LED lights and torches that use less power than normal lights.
If you’re staying in eco-friendly accommodation, make sure you check they have a written environmental policy that includes what they do and how they help recycling and conservation projects. What is always a good sign is if they use local produce and products in the running of the accommodation, which will cut down on their footprint.
If you’re eating out, it’s often best to pick the local restaurants rather than any nationwide or international chains as they usually source their produce and meat locally. This includes picking locally brewed beer if you want a tasty alcoholic beverage.
To go one better, you can eat at vegetarian restaurants, as their ingredients will have cost a lot less in terms of fuel and resources to produce. Similarly, if you’re going shopping then try local markets and always take reusable bags.
Carbon Offset Flying
Sometimes it’s impossible to rule out flying, particularly for international travellers or when travelling between East and West Australia.
Many airlines run schemes allowing you to offset your carbon footprint, for example Qantas run a Fly Carbon Neutral Program that calculates the CO2 Emissions from your flight and charges you accordingly to offset this. Flying from Perth to Sydney generates 307 kg of CO2 emissions per passenger, which Qantas charge $2.83 AUD to offset.
Campervan and Car Travel
First of all, pack both light and smart. Packing light reduces the weight of the vehicle and therefore the fuel consumed and also increases the feeling of space which will make the journey more comfortable.
Packing smart will include omitting unnecessary energy thirsty items; you’re on a holiday so try and enjoy the outdoors as much as you can and leave behind anything that will lead to you plugging the campervan into the electricity points. If you can leave the laptop behind, and limit use of your phone then you won’t have to connect the vehicle to the mains to charge anything. The good thing about a campervan is it will charge many of its electrical appliances on the move; this includes the fridge which doesn’t need connecting to electricity points as long as you turn down the power at night.
You can also cut down on your petrol consumption with careful planning of your road trips. Leaving early and driving outside of heavy traffic times will cut back on any traffic queues you may get caught in, and will allow you to drive at a slower speed to still reach your destination on time, which can increase your miles per gallon. Travelling in the off season will also reduce your chances of getting caught in traffic jams.
Author Bio: Matt completed a road trip up the East Coast from Sydney to Cairns in 2011 and reduced the impact of his flights to Australia with a carbon offset program. A keen advocate of efficient travel methods his next green travel adventure will be a hiking trip on his Thailand holidays 2013