Tips for sustainable travel


How to help the planet while you holiday.

A traveller makes a heart shape with her hands.

The desire to travel and explore once again is on our minds, with many of us looking to our own beautiful country to embrace.

More than ever, we are also aware of our planet and the impact of our own actions upon it – for better or for worse. Sustainable and even "regenerative" travel is possible, if we do it consciously.

Below are some tips from Emily Fletcher, founder of the Clean + Conscious Awards, on how to have a planet-positive effect from your adventures and support great initiatives along the way, all whilst feeding your soul’s desire for the aliveness that only travel can bring.

Move consciously

A large amount of our travel carbon footprint is generated when we are moving from one location to another.

If you do have a choice, taking a long-distance train or bus is a more planet friendly option compared with a private car or plane.

In the enormous continent that is Australia, depending on your travel destination, an eco-friendly mode of transportation may be impossible to select.

You could then choose to offset your carbon emissions instead.

There are many large certifiers who offer this or you can use an online calculator and donate to an organisation of your choice, which is working to capture carbon or generate renewable energy.

Stay sustainably

Choosing to stay in sustainable accommodation has an impact on both the environment and also the local community.

There are sustainable stays available for all budgets – from camping to hostels to luxurious resorts.

However, it is necessary to do your research and make sure you are not simply being “greenwashed”.

To make an informed choice, check out the accommodation’s website and look for a “sustainability” page.

Or call them and ask:

  • Do they use local staff and products?
  • What kind of energy do they use and if they have a waste and water recycling system?
  • What do they do to invest and support the surrounding community?

Tread lightly

At your destination, walk or take public transport to get around.

Also, don’t forget to pack your reusables. Take your keep cup, water bottle, reusable cutlery and tote bag to keep your plastic usage low.

Have a positive impact

The way we interact with the local community dictates the impact of our stay.

Support local businesses: This can include going to the local farmers market, buying in independent shops and having meals in local cafes.

Eco-tours: Choose tours that are environmentally sustainable and preferably employ local guides. Support First Nations run tour experiences. By supporting these businesses you’ll be contributing to the conservation of a culture which prioritises living in harmony with the land.

Wildlife sanctuaries: Australia has many wildlife sanctuaries focused on conservation and carbon footprint reduction. Visiting fees support the many initiatives which are being run from these locations.

I have always loved the saying about visiting the beach, “Take only photos, leave only footprints”.

I believe this can be expanded to encapsulate eco-conscious travel too.

Let’s keep in mind the following when we travel, “Move consciously, stay sustainably, tread lightly and make a positive impact”.

Emily Fletcher is Head of Research and Education and founder of the Clean + Conscious Awards. She started the awards in 2019 to celebrate the products that work toward clean, ethical and sustainable solutions to protect our bodies, environment and society.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.