Travel is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest pleasures, but the impact of our sight-seeing habits can have devastating effects on the environment — before and after an aeroplane touches down on the tarmac in a new city.
As we become more environmentally aware of our carbon footprints, we must make moves to adapt to more ecologically responsible ways of living. And that includes the way we travel and see the world, too.
Now that there’s talk of travel restrictions easing in Australia, we’re seeing an opportunity to rethink the way we move between new cities and towns. What if we could start again on the right foot, and do better by the environment this time?
While no one’s asking us to stop travelling altogether (lord knows we deserve an escape after 2020), we are being encouraged to consider more eco-friendly ways to travel, of which there are plenty.
Here, Lina Cronin, communications and audit manager at Ecotourism Australia, explains three easy ways to reduce your impact on the road.
1. Offset your carbon emissions
You’ll likely have seen the little box at the checkout of airline booking sites asking if you’d like to contribute an additional few dollars to offset your carbon emissions. And if you’re not already ticking that box, then you really need to start.
“Offsetting your flight by ticking the box when you book means the airline will invest this amount into carbon offset projects, essentially compensating for the emissions you produce,” says Lina.
These projects may include the planting of new trees, forest conservancy, or investing in sustainable energy sources like solar and hydro energy.
Sadly, only 2-4% of travellers are currently choosing to offset their emissions, according to a 2018 Climate Council report. “This may be because much of the information provided to the public is confusing and lacks transparency,” says Lina, adding: “We would argue that this needs to change — and we believe offsetting should be an opt-out, not an opt-in.”
2. Explore closer to home
Australia is a wonderfully unique continent in that you can encounter almost every type of landscape without having to lift your feet off the ground. If a tropical beachy holiday is what you’re craving, then instead of making that third trip back to Bali, why not take a journey to one of our pristine coastal beach resorts?
Australia has rainforests, deserts, islands, hinterlands, dense bush, ski fields and mountains right here in our backyard, all of which are just waiting to be explored and are accessible via eco-friendly, green transport modes.
Check out these 5 stunning Australia road trips now.
3. Seek out ecologically conscious accommodation
“Being ecologically responsible — remembering ‘responsible travel’ also incorporates socio-cultural and economic elements — is about more than just your flights,” says Lina.
Many people don’t consider that their carbon footprints are influenced by what they do on holiday in those destinations. “That’s why we would always recommend travelling to locations that are ECO-certified and staying in accommodations that take climate action seriously.”
Hotels all around the world are taking steps towards becoming carbon neutral, but here are three luxurious escapes in Australia doing their bit for the environment that are worth a visit.
1. Daintree Ecolodge, Queensland
The Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa is a luxurious retreat nestled in the World-Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. The resort produces its own renewable energy, offsets its emissions, uses recycled water and composts green scraps, and was recently awarded an Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certification.
2. Paperbark Camp, New South Wales
Just two and a half hours from Sydney in the beachy town of Jervis Bay lies glamping tent retreat Paperbark Camp. Nestled in the bush of three surrounding national parks, the 13 canvas tents offer unparalleled privacy and an escape that’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the environment.
The site is Advanced Ecotourism-certified and is a pioneering property in Australian glamping. Paperbark Camp utilises rainwater tanks, solar power and makes every effort not to disrupt the natural wildlife in the area.
3. Alkina Lodge, Victoria
The modern digs at the Alkina Lodge on the Great Ocean Road are designed to accommodate families looking to recharge and reconnect with nature. Recently, the lodge announced the installation of solar and wind power to supply all energy for the property that sits on 100 acres in the bush.
There is no air conditioning, all rainwater is harvested and stored, and an organic vegetable garden supplies meals for guests. What’s more, vegetable waste is composted, organic honey bees are kept on site, and manager Cindy is a registered wildlife carer.