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5 easy ways to minimize your travel footprint

By Swati Saxena

· Responsible Travel

It is funny how in India we claim respect by wasting resources. The more salad not being eaten in a wedding, the grander the event is considered. Two TVs switched on in a family of 5 with no one watching, but because we are proud to own those TV sets, we see it as a duty to keep them ON. Flowing water tank means we have plenty and can afford to not use some of it.

Since, you’re reading this post; I hope you aren’t any of those pricks mentioned above. I hope you act as responsible folks in your homes and out in the world. But, I know people who get messed up while on the move. They don’t understand how to minimise the usage of resources even though they want. If you’re one such person who has the will to be mindful of your footprint but don’t have the know-how, we suggest a few steps for your next trip to begin with:

1. Refill and reuse

I’m talking of the water bottles. Oh, the clutter they create. I used to cringe every time I’d throw an empty Bisleri in a dustbin and buy a new one. So, now I keep a steel bottle in my bag and refill it on every chance - in a hotel, from a public drinking water filter or a stream high in the Himalayas. There may be times when you won’t find any of it and are moving towards a plastic bottle seller but before that happens, make sure you’ve looked around enough.

2. Walk or cycle

A good way to walk more, is to keep a lower limit for which you’ll not take any transport. Mine is 2 kilometres, which sometimes stretches to 5, depending on weather, people travelling with and quality of streets. For example, if I’m visiting a café that’s 1200 meters from where I’m staying, I’ll go on foot without a second thought. A lot of touristy towns now offer cycles on rent, something I love, more so, because I don’t cycle otherwise, in my daily life. If the distances are more, try to carpool or take a train instead of having a full SUV to yourself.

3. Choose the accommodation wisely

Before booking a place, check how they run the space. Using solar energy over electric power, organic produce over lesser healthy food products and their waste disposal methods can tell about their responsibility quotient. Plus, you can contribute by getting your towels & bed sheets changed every 2nd or 3rd day, not daily.

4. Pack light

This one has a personal benefit and a greater good. Just like you have to put in more effort to pick, drop and drag a heavier luggage, all the vehicles consume extra fuel to carry more weight, which in turn adversely affects the environment. The next time you plan on taking 5 books on a week-long trip or that knee length dress to a rural destination, think thrice because if not you, someone will carry that load. So, when in doubt, leave it out!

5. Pack the garbage back

It often happens on treks and in rural areas that we don’t find dustbins. In that case, wrap whatever is left, from an empty chips packet to a used tampon. All this can go into a separate pocket in your bag or if you are afraid it will stink by the time you dispose it off, use zip lock bags. Going a step further, you can also pick trash while walking on a trail.

All these can be applied at home as well. If you have more such ideas or innovative ways to follow these practices, please let us (and others) know in comments below.

Cover picture courtesy - moseleyandkingsheathcp.files.wordpress.com

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