Sustainable travel tastes better

Enjoying the sun on the beach or countryside, spending quality time with family and friends, relaxing, forgetting about the hours, planning different activities and lots of adventures – summer is full of good things. However, vacations are also when most people relax their sustainability focus.

Even those with sustainable habits in their daily life may end up inadvertently hurting the environment while on vacations. For instance, wasting food due to incorrect storage, returning to single-use plastics or even polluting nature in outdoor activities.

There are, however, simple solutions everyone can adopt to enjoy more sustainable travel. Here are seven practical tips to try out this summer.

Sustainable Development Goals logo

Sustainability is not just about environmentalism. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals define sustainability as social and economic initiatives beyond the environment. Therefore, sustainable travel involves environmentally friendly activities and choices that are better for society and the economy.

  1. Combine volunteering with tourism

“Voluntourism” is the combination of volunteering and tourism, one of those good things for the environment, society, the economy and personal well-being. To incorporate “voluntourism” into sustainable travel, think about how you can help the community.

Illustration of three adults and a child picking up bottles in the beach and putting them in recycling bags.

Cleaning up the beach or countryside is a great example; it can be both a playful and educational activity for children and an important contribution to the environment.

Volunteering in community centres and helping with food distribution is another way to help. And why not call the local institutions in the places where you’re going on vacation and ask what their needs are? Many institutions have a list of necessities available on their website.

  1. Go vegetarian at least one day a week

Mitigating carbon emissions requires consuming less meat and incorporating locally produced vegetables into your diet. During the summer break, choose lighter meals to offset the heat and have vegetarian meals at least one day a week.

Illustration of a woman carrying a bowl with fruits.
  1. Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are healthier and taste better. That’s why they are so important for sustainable travel. This summer, pick tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, cucumbers, chayotes, aubergines, watermelons, melon, cantaloupe, blackberries and grapes to colour the shelves of your refrigerator and enjoy a more nutritious diet. And the more local, the better – the environment and producers will be grateful.

  1. Healthy barbecues

Is summer really summer without a barbecue? Friends, family, music and good vibes. There’s only one downside. When having a barbecue, most people go for foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar. Solution? Prefer healthy barbecue with grilled vegetables, fish, fresh salads and sugar-free refreshments.

Illustration of a family (men, woman and child) carrying boxes.
  1. Donate or sell what you no longer use

When summer starts, store your winter wardrobe and make room for lighter clothes. Going through the pieces in your closet, you might come across items you have not worn in years or that do not fit anymore. Donating them saves space and might change the summer of a needy family.

If you prefer, you can also sell your garments. Several digital platforms allow you to sell second-hand clothes or even swap clothes.

Illustration of a person carrying a bag with fruits and vegetables in a market.
  1. Choose socially responsible retailers

Individual attitudes, such as food choices, have a great impact on the planet. That is why buying from socially and environmentally responsible businesses is so important. To have sustainable travel – and a sustainable lifestyle – also implies making well-informed choices.

Illustration of several people running and riding bicycle.
  1. Spread the word

Raise awareness in your neighbours, family and friends about the urgency of ending ocean pollution, protecting ecosystems and endangered species, and supporting the local economy and the community in the places you visit. Challenge them and yourself to ride a bike more often, go hiking, clean parks after a picnic, plant pollinator-friendly flowers or volunteer with people in need.

Don’t forget, despite being summer, these tips can be applied throughout the year and make a significant impact on the planet.