One of the seeming contradictions of living a minimalist lifestyle is the way that travel can increase your carbon footprint.
Travel is a regular part of the minimalist lifestyle; since you don’t have much stuff to take with you, travel is easier. And since, you aren’t spending as much money on things, you can afford more experiences through travel.
The unfortunate thing, though, is that a lot of travel add to your carbon footprint. You don’t have to live in an environmentally sustainable manner to be a minimalist, but many of those who embrace minimalist principles also care a great deal about the environment.
So, how do you reduce your impact on the environment when you travel? A little planning can help you enjoy your travel by creating a smaller carbon footprint.
Choose Your Accommodations with Care
There are some hotels that are considered “greener” than others. There are associations, such as Green Leaf and Green Seal, that indicate a certain level sustainability. Practices like recycling and practicing energy efficiency as much as possible can mean your stay isn’t completely weighing on the environment.
While you stay, consider re-using your towels and sheets, rather than having them changed each day. That will cut down on the laundry that has to be done. I usually don’t have cleaning services until I leave.
It’s also possible to reduce your carbon footprint through such practices as couch surfing or by staying in a youth hostel. If your travel involves camping, that can be a positive thing, too, depending on how you approach it.
You can also consider the location of your accommodations. When possible, choose a hotel near public transportation so that you don’t have to drive as much. Plan your stay so that what you see can be most likely be reached with public transportation.
Pay Attention to Your Home Before You Go
Don’t forget to prepare your home before you go. Unplug what you can to reduce energy leakage while you’re gone. Make sure that your thermostat is set so that the heat or air isn’t wasted when you leave. Also, if you have a watering system, set it so that the water comes on and off automatically at the right times in your yard. Do what you can to reduce the impact your home is having while you are gone.
What about Carbon Offsets?
In some cases, it’s difficult to reduce your carbon footprint when you travel — especially if you fly. You might be able to reduce your paper waste by using an electronic ticket, but there’s no way to really avoid the impact created by flying in an airplane.
Some travelers prefer to purchase carbon offsets so that they feel better about the way their travel affects the environment. You can also plant trees and do your best to live in a very sustainable manner when you aren’t traveling. It’s really up to you, and what makes you feel more comfortable about your travel choices.
What do you think? How do you handle sustainable travel?