There is now widespread evidence that the globe is warming. The tell-tale signs are the increasing global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.
This trend may worsen as the world gets more crowded – which means more pressure on resources and most certainly, more demand for fuel, which loosely translates to more carbon emissions. But the good news is that if you travel frequently, you can still make a difference by reducing your carbon footprint.
In 2008, oil and coal combined contributed more than 60% of the world’s energy supply. When you consider how much of these fossil fuels are required to fly or even take a weekend road trip, it makes even more sense to try and offset that footprint by travelling and living with the environment in mind.
I am not suggesting we turn this into some cult following, all am simply saying is we go easy on our rather sensitive environment, which we previously thought was indestructible, by trying as much as possible to lower our carbon footprint.
You might want to start by considering these 6 travel carbon footprint reducing tips below which are not asking too much of us and do not require much effort to accomplish.
1. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
It does not seem like the obvious place to start but you will be amazed at how much carbon footprint you can reduce with this.
Before you purchase bottled water consider these statistics from The Pacific Institute (2006); it requires more than 17 million barrels of oil, excluding energy for transportation to produce bottled water in the USA.
This results in the emission of 2.5 million tons of Carbon Dioxide from plastic used to produce the bottles. Worse still, to produce a litre of that water requires 3 litres of water. Do you still want to buy bottled water for your safari expedition? Remember this is only data for the USA!
Buying a reusable bottle you refill every time you are away could be quite a plot – actually a huge money saver. If you have doubts about drinking water during your safari, you can bring along your own portable filter or iodine tablets. There are many fashionable water bottles that are free of the dreaded bisphenol-A (BPA) chemical. Make sure to check that they are labelled BPA-free.
2. Steer-off of Buying Game and Game by-products
You may be wondering what this has to do with lowering your carbon footprint but it does. There is no other place in Kenya that is as tempting as the Coast for this kind of thing.
You very likely will come across beach boys vending stuff like shells, coral, sea turtles, starfish and other marine life. Just so your holiday is one you would have fond memories of later, stay clear of such.
They will land you in jail besides giving you a bad reputation! Things like coral take ages to develop and buying them encourages their depletion. Other items to keep away from include Ivory, sea turtle products and rhino horn.
3. Conserve Electricity
I do not know whether this makes sense in Kenya where we are already on a very high voltage rating (240V) before we even begin but let’s still see what is within our control. Remember to always turn off all appliances using electricity such as Air cons, TV, fridge. You may not have to worry much about this if you are staying in one of those fancy hotel rooms with state-of-the-art card-operated power and lighting system operated from a central socket.
Since the card doubles as a key lock, then you will have to remove it from the central power socket whenever you leave your room because you will need it later to access your room. As soon as you remove the card from its socket, all power goes.
4. Turn-off Taps and Shorten your Time in the Shower
Here, I am also a culprit! Some of these hotels have really awesome shower systems and the temptation to take a ‘little’ more time in the bathroom is high. If you are staying in one of those remote wilderness camps inside a park or reserve, it takes a lot of effort to provide you with that hot shower. Be mindful of others.
5. Shed-off Excess Luggage
The primary reason why you would want to consider doing this can perhaps best be summarised in the words of mother Teresa; that
There must be a reason why some people can afford to live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste, when I see people throwing away things that we could use.
After a long and exciting holiday away from home, you often realise you have a lot still remaining from the trip you could off-load and reduce your baggage, hence burning less fuel because you are lighter on your way back home. You could consider donating your extra stuff to a children’s home of your choice in a manner that does not, of course, appear offensive.
6. Use Transport Means with Little Carbon Footprint
I have discovered that whenever I walk home, I get more social as I come across friends and interesting people. I get to see more of the town and its many exciting colours. The same principle works even when you are on a safari. After all, how else do you get to sample the mandazis in the local kiosk or grab some fresh farm fruits from the roadside mama mboga (female vegetable vendor) – it is also good exercise.
I cannot over-emphasize how eye-opening sampling local cuisines, taking strolls around town or using public means is. But of course, that does not mean you go picking any eatables or rides from any place anywhere – use this within reason.
If you follow these simple tips, I am sure you will see your carbon footprint becoming smaller. Do you have other ways to reduce this further? Share by commenting below.