I just had an amazing trip to Europe. I was in Amsterdam for just over a week visiting one of my friends who moved there a while ago, and Belgium visiting relatives for a few nights. Altogether, the trip lasted two weeks. There are definitely lots of environmental issues one faces when traveling, and here I address some of them, and what I did to lessen my impact.
My flights took me from Halifax, Toronto, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, and then my trip home took me from Brussels, Reykjavik, Toronto where I’m visiting my folks for two weeks before heading home to Halifax.
Flying is definitely not good for the environment. The carbon footprint from flying is huge, and as I am trying to reduce my footprint as much as possible, I was very aware of this. However, there are things you can do to mitigate your footprint. There are several great free, online tools you can use to calculate the carbon footprint of flights and donate the amount of money to plant enough seagrass to offset the amount of carbon your travels, or plant enough trees.
I chose to go through the initiative Seagrass Grow, one of the Ocean Foundation’s projects. They have a fantastic online carbon calculator for trips, households, and businesses. The rough footprint from my flights was 2.3 tonnes of carbon, which amounted to a donation of $23 to offset the carbon. I chose to roundup to a donation of $30 to account for other emissions throughout my trip – realistically $30 is a very small price to pay, and I was happy to do so.
I chose to offset my emissions with seagrass as it actually stores more carbon than trees in the amazon forest do! Not only is seagrass great at storing carbon, but it also provides habitat for fish species, provides many various ecosystem services, helps to protect shorelines from hurricanes and flooding, and many more. Seagrass, along with many other marine ecosystems, are being destroyed at alarming rates, so in my opinion, this is a good reason to donate some money to plant seagrass!
If you are taking a trip soon, want to know your household or business footprint. or want to do more reading on Seagrass Grow, please check out their website here: https://www.oceanfdn.org/calculator. If you wish to check out other carbon offsetting options there are tons just ask the google (I typed in ‘offset carbon footprint’ and tons of options came up).
When traveling it can seem to be really hard to avoid consuming plastic while eating at the airport. As I knew I would be spending a lot of time in airports, and therefore needing food, I took some precautions against plastic waste. I brought my To-Go Ware cutlery to avoid plastic cutlery at the airport – I also used these in the cities I was visiting! I brought a mason jar and Cuppow – the mason jar doubled as my thermos, and I also used it to store leftovers for one of my plane rides. I used the mason jar as a mug all throughout my trip, and loved it – the Cuppow made it so much easier to use as a thermos as well.
While grocery shopping, I brought reusable bags, and did my best to avoid plastic. Unfortunately I found that most of the produce came wrapped in plastic in Amsterdam and Brussels. It was still possible to get the majority of the fruits and veggies without plastic though – you just have to think about it, and make an effort.
At most of the restaurants and coffee shops I visited, along with your coffee they gave you a little cookie. Sometimes it came plastic free, but most of the time it was a cookie in plastic packaging. When the cookie came in packaging, I just left it on the table for them to give to someone else, but when it came package free, I ate it.
See my previous trip for a full list of my zero-waste travel essentials here!
All in all it was a fantastic trip, and I can’t wait to do some more traveling! Hopefully you take some of these tips, and do what you can do to make your next trip a little better for the environment!