The essential sustainable travel checklist!
1. Wear Sustainable Swimwear.
(Psst... Bonus sustainability points if your swimwear is also reversible because when you pack light, you fly light. When you fly light, you’re minimizing your carbon footprint)
You’re heading off on a sunny vacation to enjoy the best nature has to offer sun, sea and sand. While heading out on a sun destination vacation to enjoy nature, the last thing you want to do is contribute to climate change by purchasing swimwear made from virgin nylon.
Don't go Virgin
Although virgin nylon might seem harmless, it is a form of plastic derived from petrochemicals. Once produced, virgin nylon is non-biodegradable. Essentially, when you buy a bikini and eventually toss it, that kini will sit in a landfill forever. What’s worse, the production process for virgin nylon produces nitrous oxide...and nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas 300 times more harmful than Carbon Dioxide. When talking climate change, the Nitrous Oxide molecule stays in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years.... that's pretty significant for a one time purchase.
BUT, it’s okay - you don’t have to go to the beach nude! There are sustainable swimwear options available.
SEA Señora Swim Bikinis, made from ECONYL®.
SEA Señora Swim is a luxe swimwear brand providing a wide range of designer styles all made from ECONYL® Polyamide, a 100% regenerated nylon yarn that is infinitely regenerable. Not only are SEA Senora Swim bikinis made from fabric that recovers fishing nets from the ocean, each bikini is made using RENEWABLE ENERGY!
As opposed to using virgin nylon yarn derived from crude oil, ECONYL® yarn, is developed through an innovative regeneration process that rescues pre- and post-consumer Nylon 6 waste material, such as, fishing nets recovered from oceans worldwide, carpets, fabric and other waste. What’s even better, ECONYL® regenerated Nylon is equal in quality to virgin nylon yarn. Same quality, minus the devastating environmental impact of producing virgin nylon.
ECONYL®. Renewable Energy. Reversible (2 in 1).
SEA Señora bikinis also come in reversible colors, so you get 2 bikinis in 1! Less materials and more options! You can dip in the ocean knowing that your bikini was made using eco friendly materials with renewable energy.
2. Reef Safe Sunscreen
When travelling to a sunny destination, it’s important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. However, that same sunscreen that is protecting you is simultaneously endangering marine life and harming coral reefs.
There are two types of sunscreen, mineral and chemical. What is the difference between the two types of sunscreen?
Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin and protects skin by absorbing UV rays. While chemical sunscreen absorbs UV rays, your skin is also absorbing chemicals. On top of that, it takes 20 minutes before chemical sunscreens are even effective!
Now let’s talk Mineral sunscreen… Mineral sunscreen sits on the skin’s surface and protects your skin by reflecting UV rays away from the skin. Additionally, mineral sunscreen is effective immediately.
Back to chemical sunscreen… those chemicals being absorbed into your skin as a form of protection, are linked to sunscreen pollution causing damage to coral reefs. Let’s dive into the chemical ingredient list...Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3), an ingredient found in over 3,500 sunscreen products, is known to cause coral bleaching, disruptions in coral reproduction and damage to coral DNA. Other ingredients known to cause coral bleaching that are commonly found in chemical sunscreen, include Butylparaben, Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC).
Even if you are not planning to swim in the ocean, sunscreen pollution can occur from wastewater (From showering/rinsing etc... ).
Mineral sunscreen can also be harmful to marine life from nano-particles which are toxic to marine life and can result in death.
Essentially, opt-out of chemical sunscreen and remember mineral sunscreen does NOT equal reef-safe.
What can you do? When buying sunscreen, really look at the ingredient lists!
First, avoid sunscreens that include: Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3), utylparaben, Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC).
Second, Don’t go for aerosoles!
Third, When buying mineral sunscreen, look for sunscreens using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
When buying reef safe sunscreen, always pay attention to the ingredient list and do some extra research.
3. Go Reusable
Cut down on single use plastic waste by bringing reusable water bottles, bags, straws and containers.
Reusable Water Bottles. This is one of the best airport travel hacks there is. Once you pass security, you can fill your water bottle before boarding your flight/train/bus. You’ll stay hydrated for your entire flight.
Reusable Bags. These are handy for simple supply runs, to bring your snacks to the beach and to take your trash with you when you leave!
Reusable Containers/Straws. Rather than taking food to-go in a disposable, single-use styrofoam container and sipping with a plastic straw. Use your reusable containers to bring your tasty eats to go with minimal waste.
4. Energy Mindfulness
You may not be able to stay in a green hotel, but you can green hack your hotel stay.
Go paperless. Instead of using paper maps and brochures available at your hotel, download offline google maps to navigate where you are going. You can also check to see if there is a tourist app for the location you are visiting. These apps are great for giving tips, recommendations and navigation.
Opt-out of daily turn down service. Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign out during your stay. Avoiding daily cleaning will help save resources.
Reuse your towels. Instead of throwing your towels on the floor after one single-use. Hang to dry and use again.
Be mindful of your energy. Opt for a fan before using AC. If you must use AC, avoid having the AC blasting when you are not in the room.
5. Carbon Offset Your Flight
Sometimes there is no way around it, you have to fly to reach your destination.
Fly Direct. The first thing you can do to minimize your impact while flying is to opt for a direct flight. It may be cheaper to fly with connections but the majority of a plane’s carbon emissions are produced during take-off and landing. Taking one flight and doing only one take-off and one landing will help reduce your carbon footprint right out of the gate.
Purchase Carbon Offsets. To further reduce your carbon footprint while flying, you can purchase carbon offsets to counterbalance the emissions from your flight. When you buy carbon offsets you lessen your environmental footprint by supporting projects aimed at reducing emissions.
With less.ca (Canada) or Terrapasse.com (United States), you can use a carbon footprint calculator directly on their website to determine the total emissions from your flight and how the equivalent carbon offsets per tonne to be purchased in order to counterbalance the emissions derived from your flight.