By Angelica Fenton
Daughters Rising and Chai Lai Orchid are all about social impact, especially when it comes to promoting sustainable, environmentally friendly travel. It’s important to remember that it’s all of our jobs to protect the earth’s environment and keep it clean, whether you’re at home, travelling soon or on the road already. Different countries have different policies when it comes to trash, recycling, or environmental protection, and many times it’s going to differ than what you’re used to at home. Plan ahead and make a conscious decision to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling. Here are our suggestions to help you out along the way.
1. Carry a reusable water bottle- preferably a metal one.
Don’t contribute to plastic waste, especially when you’re traveling. Many countries (especially in Southeast Asia) don’t have recycling options or environmental sustainability infrastructure in place to dispose of plastics. If they do, they may be few and far between. Avoid this by bringing your own reusable water bottle on the road, or reuse a store-bought plastic bottle multiple times. Metal water bottles are easy to clean and great insulators for hot and cold liquids- you can even use them for tea, smoothies, soup or broth. Better yet, invest in a good portable water filter along with your reusable bottle so that you don’t have to buy bottled water wherever you go. Buy a stainless steel water bottle at Chai Lai that gets you free clean water refills all around Thailand.
2. Use solar lanterns and battery packs.
You’ll inevitably need electricity at some point while you’re traveling, whether you need to recharge your phone or find your way to your hostel bunk bed. Conserve energy and reap the power of the sun with solar lanterns and recharge banks for your electronics. These are great options for bus rides, rural areas and long travel stretches where you have to go wireless or might not have an outlet nearby. Solar products ensure that you always have the ability to have light or a charge no matter where you are, while saving electricity. It’s a win-win.
3. Buy from fresh local markets to reduce food packaging waste.
If you plan to cook or buy food from anywhere other than a restaurant while traveling, opt for a local market or veggie and fruit stall over the nearest grocery store. You’ll get a cultural experience, support local business and save food packaging from the trash. Most foods and produce you’ll pick up at the local market won’t be wrapped in consumer-friendly packaging like plastic or styrofoam. Just make sure you give everything you buy a rinse off when you get home!
4. Pack a reusable shopping bag or tote.
Plastic bags are everywhere, especially in Southeast Asia. Vendors are quick to bag purchases for you, sometimes using multiple plastic bags for one item. Don’t contribute to plastic bag waste. Beat the trend by bringing your own reusable bag, tote or small backpack. Take it with you when you shop for food or souvenirs and turn down plastic bags whenever you can. As a bonus, a tote or backpack will hold more than a plastic bag will- so shop away!
5. ...But always have a trash bag handy.
We all find ourselves in situations where we have trash to toss but no trashcan in sight. Similarly, you’ve probably seen tourist areas- beaches, parks and trails- scattered with trash. Littering or not cleaning up after yourself should never be an option, especially when you’re away from home in a new culture. Respect the environment you’re in by having a trash bag in your pack just in case. You’ll never be tempted to leave trash or litter, and you can ensure your waste goes into a proper trash bin the next time you find one. Keeping the environment clean is everyone’s responsibility and isn’t optional in the absence of a trash can.