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8 Ways to Become a More Eco-Friendly Traveler

by Gretchen Filart

With summer finally here, one thing can always be expected: the influx of travelers.

And where travelers are, trash and environmental footprint follow too. To help ensure that Mother Nature's attractions remain well-preserved for years to come, we should always be mindful of what we can do to minimize the environmental impact of traveling.

Here are 8 ways to become a more responsible and sustainable traveler.

1. Use reef-safe sunscreens.

Some sunscreens found on the market today contain a harmful substance called oxybenzone – often found in spray-on sunscreens – which is shown to be poisonous to reefs.

It disrupts coral reef production, leads to deformities, and causes coral bleaching, which later leads to reef death. Fortunately, there are plenty of reef-friendly sunscreens now in the Philippines (e.g. Human Nature and Alba Botanica), which gives the same UV protection as any other brand without harming corals.

2. Walk or opt for alternative modes of transportation.

While transportation is a crucial part of traveling, it is also one of the biggest contributors of greenhouses gases. Studies reveal that cars and airplanes are the least environment-friendly transportation modes. Airplanes account for three percent of total carbon emissions annually, while cars have high miles per gallon per passenger (mpg) but can only sit a few people!

Whenever possible, go for trains and buses instead. Both have low mpg and can also accommodate more passengers. More people who take the bus or train means fewer cars are out on the streets.

Another way to reduce carbon footprint is to walk or bike instead of taking public or private transport during short-distance trips. Not only are these the greenest way to go, they're also good for your heart!

3. Do not litter.

Minding your own trash should always be second-nature to travelers. Trash that you leave anywhere can end up in oceans and other bodies of water. If you can't find trash bins where you are, simply put the discarded matter in your pocket or bag and discard them upon arrival at home or at your hotel.

Hikers, beachgoers, and tourists should also make an effort to pick up any litter they see in destinations.

4. Avoid single-use plastic.

Many think that if garbage is disposed of properly, they will never end up in the ocean. This is actually not true. A recent study by Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment revealed that 74% of ocean plastics from the Philippines come from garbage that has already been collected. Plastics from open dump sites get windblown to the ocean.

The best way to prevent this is to reduce our use of plastics, including disposable utensils, straws, and sachet packs. When traveling, make it a habit to reuse small bottles for liquid toiletries instead of buying sachets. Bring reusable cutlery and metal straws. Camping stores and online shops sell these at affordable prices.

5. Always carry a reusable water bottle.

Another way to reduce plastic use is to avoid buying bottled water. Bring your own refillable tumblers or bottles and have them refilled in hotels or restaurants.

Not only is it more environment-friendly, it also saves you heaps! Just imagine P15 for a 500 ml bottled water versus P20 for nearly 19,000 ml of water from your home.

6. Bring your own bag for pasalubong.

Make it a habit to bring an eco bag or tote bag when buying souvenirs and other items on trips. Not only are they hardier and reusable, they are also more fashionable than plastic bags.

7. Keep your towels and sheets.

Guest laundry comprises 16% of water usage in any given hotel. It takes around three gallons of water to wash two kilos of guest-discarded fabrics. The energy used by hotels worldwide—energy that contributes to greenhouse emission—is equivalent to that emitted by over 11 million vehicles.

When you think about this, it makes sense to refrain from asking for a daily towel and sheet replenishments in a hotel or resort. Unless your towel or sheets are dirty, keep them hung in the bathroom. Most establishments encourage guests to do so!

8. Stay in sustainable hotels and other tourist spots.

Supporting establishments and destinations that know the value of environmental conservation is a great way to enjoy trips. There are many out there—and most of them are just a click away!

Momo Beach House, for example, is a nature-inspired boutique resort in Bohol with locally sourced organic bath products and eco-friendly amenities, such as a repurposed wine rack made from an old fishing boat.

Momo Beach House is under hotel management group One-of-Collection. They have rolled out Project Echo (Environment, Community, and Heritage by One-Of Collection), a new platform for environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and heritage preservation. It aims to transform their boutique resorts into sustainable leisure destinations.

Our exclusive offer with Momo Beach House comes with breakfast and transfers. Check it out here.

Arena Island is also a famous eco-tourism destination for its sustainable initiatives on pawikan or sea turtles. Hidden away from the crowds, this unspoiled paradise is now a home for the endangered species.

Our exclusive offer with Arena Island comes with full-board meals and more. Check it out here.

In the 5th ASEAN Green Hotel Awards, 10 winners from the Philippines were recognized for adopting environmental-friendly principles. These include Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort and Crimson Resort and Spa in Cebu and The Manor at Camp John Hay in Baguio City.

What other eco-friendly tips do you swear by? Are there are any eco-friendly resorts and hotels that have started on sustainable initiatives? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About Gretchen
Gretchen is a mother and freelance editor and travel writer by day and a secret poet by night. She weaves travel stories on her blog, filipinaexplorer.com. Her work also regularly appears in print and digital publications.

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