26 ways to be environmentally friendly and still see the world in 2022


G—Giving back

You could book a volunteering vacation with a reputable grass-roots NGO, use a travel company with an established charitable foundation, or simply sign up for an excursion with a local indigenous guide (a tour of the original adobe settlements in New Mexico’s Rio Grande valley with the Native Americans of Taos Pueblo, perhaps, or Madidi National Park in Bolivia with the Uchupiamonas). Or, if you don’t want to devote your entire trip to an NGO’s mission, Charitable Travel is similar to a typical travel agent in the UK, except that a portion of the price of your high-end holiday package bought from this social enterprise goes to a charitable cause of your choosing.


Locals inviting tourists into their homes means an authentic taste of local life plus it results in direct-action wealth distribution in underprivileged areas. Play pastoralist in a Mongolian ger (yurt) in the Gobi grasslands or at Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp and help fund conservation in Kenya. G Adventures is a tour operator that finds accommodation in this way, such as in Panauti in Nepal where they launched this initiative in 2012 to empower women through their hosting of guests.

I—Indigenous people

Indigenous people govern 65 per cent of the earth’s landmasses (and 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity). Choose hotels that help indigenous people economically and preserve their traditions in a meaningful way such as Gal Oya Lodge, which celebrates the Veddah people in Sri Lanka, or Uxua in Brazil which showcases artefacts from the Pataxo Indians.


Tourism employs 10 per cent of the global workforce: our holidays help a lot of people and their extended families. It’s satisfying to plan itineraries that support microbusinesses with social or environmental missions along the way – such as getting your souvenirs from somewhere such as Small Projects Istanbul, a community space where Syrian refugee women in Turkey access language, computer and leadership lessons as well as coaching in crafts such as sewing, silk-screening and jewelery design, as included in Intrepid Travel itineraries.

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Connecting children with causes and conservation nurtures tomorrow’s change-makers. Have a family day out in Wales at the Center for Alternative Technology in a former quarry near Machynlleth and explore woodland and gardens, learn about green living, graze on vegetarian picnics. Turn to their online shop to tool them up with books and experiment kits at home.


Communitarians appreciate the meaning of this term: it refers to how much money stays in a local economy. Think twice before booking that international chain hotel where the revenue is destined to end up in overseas coffers.

M—Minimum Packing

Pack as lightly as possible. Carry-on luggage is the holy grail. Pack lighter and stay fresher with some cotton essentials woven with ultra-fine solver threads. Come again? Denmark’s Organic Basics boast a SilverTech magic that means more hygienic socks and tees thanks to cunning antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in the fabrics, so not as many hot washes or detergent needed for your smalls, while you’re on the go.


Minimizing the negative impact on nature is the overarching goal of green travel, obviously. But it’s not just about being sustainable — as travelers we can strive to leave places better than we find them by turning to lighthouses in this landscape such as The Future of Tourism, a coalition of non-profit organizations that aims to disseminate tools and training and promote best practices to support tourism in mitigating against climate change and biodiversity. Hundreds of travel companies – including tourist boards and tour operators – have signed on to the coalition’s guiding principles.

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Consider who owns a business you’re giving your money to and what their purpose and values ​​are: are they an ethical airline investing in renewables, are they an eco-friendly operator who books you into locally owned accommodation? It’s worth doing your homework.


Just as we consider the source and the origins of what we eat or wear, travel is about value chains. Ponder the integrity of that souvenir or the manufacturing origins of those in-room amenities, and always favor hyperlocal or artisanal.

Q—Quality over Quantity

Taking fewer holidays, and going for longer is a great way to be green.

R—The Three Rs

Looking at our packing through the REDUCE, RECYCLE, REUSE lens, is a good guide. Cut down on what you take, survive on what you already have and head to charity shops to pick up pre-loved bargains.

S—Slow Travel

Traversing new landscapes on foot or by bike or boat means passing scenery at a pace that lets us savor every detail, story, flavor better. And it’s greener, yes.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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