Our Earth Is Dying...Here's How You Can Help.
Climate Change has been a global hot topic for several years now. After recently spending two years of my life focusing on environmental education and trying to teach rural paraguayans the importance of environmental conservation, its needless to say this is an issue I am EXTREMELY passionate about. I am constantly preaching to anyone who will listen, willingly or not, about ways to reduce our impact on earth’s ecosystem. So it wouldn’t be true to who I am, if I did not dedicate a post to one of the defining issues of our generation.
Our beautiful mother earth, is currently undergoing what scientist are calling
’Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Event’
In other words, the trauma that Earth’s ecosystem is currently experiencing is similar to that of the time when a gigantic fucking asteroid hit the planet 65 million years ago and wiped out 75% of all living creatures. #RIPdinosaurs
The most recent UN report warns that, currently, one million species are at risk of becoming extinct and research shows that we have already lost about 60% of global wildlife populations.
Just let that sink in for a second ….
And the cause...?
Over exploitation of valuable resources, deforestation, overpopulation, and pollution. With the common denominator of the activities being US. These types of human activities have led to a full on assault to global biodiversity and what experts are calling a ‘biological annihilation’.
I know this is super depressing stuff but WE fucked up. WE need to take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable. Threats of impending doom and increased natural disasters have us all scared shitless for the future, and rightfully so. So unless you are looking forward to the world looking like a scene out of Mad Max, we have to develop more sustainable practices. We have reached a critical point in our earth’s life and we have to do better. According to the United Nations Climate Change report, we have about 12 years before we start seeing the effects of Climate change on a global scale. We are talking major shifts in weather patterns which will cause a decrease in food production, an increase in natural disasters, extreme heat, and poverty for millions of people worldwide. Not to mention, we are currently experiencing a catastrophic decrease in biodiversity and loss of ecosystem services which will cost us trillions of dollars.
Unbeknownst to most people, traveling has a surprisingly high carbon footprint. It was estimated that global tourism only accounted for about 2.5-3% of total greenhouse gases. However, a more recent study published by Nature Climate Change in 2018, reported that our wanderlust is responsible for about 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than double than originally thought and it’s increasing! Many of us assume that the majority of the carbon footprint related to travelling is associated with to air planes and hotel stays, but what we don’t realize is the footprint left by the types of food we eat when we’re on the road, the clothes and gifts we buy, our accommodation choices, and how we move around locally at our destination. If we want to keep our beautiful planet happy and healthy so that future generations can have the opportunity to venture out and explore, we have to do a better job at taking care of it.
Which means, EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS!
So here are some simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling.
1. Go Veggie!!
I am not a vegetarian by any means. I love love love a good rack of ribs or juicy burger with a thick slice of bacon and extra cheese, but when I travel I avoid purchasing meat products from stores. Meat production is one of the greatest producers of greenhouse gas emissions and it's also expensive in comparison to most fruits and vegetables. So buying fresh unwrapped fruits and vegetables from local groceries stores will not only help save you money but will help the save the planet too.
2. Zero Plastic.
Single-use plastics are the bane of earth’s existence .We live in a throwaway culture where single-use items like plastic bags, water bottles, and coffees cups are in high demand. Which means the world has manufactured more plastic in the last decade than in the whole of the previous century. That one plastic bag you purchased and used for a total 15 minutes, if not properly recycled, will be sent to a landfill and sit there for over 400 years before its decomposed and that’s the best case scenario. That being said, avoid the use of plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic utensils, and plastic water bottles on your travels. There are so many affordable and eco-friendly options out there really is not excuse not to . Here are some of my go-to options.
You can get reusable tote bags at any one of your local grocery stores and they are super cheap. However, if your willing to spend a little more money for a good cause for every Ibi tote bag purchased a tree is planted.
3. Shop Local!
Eating and shopping locally will allow you to have an authentic experience and learn about the local culture. Shopping local brings money into the local economy and minimizes the transport costs of goods and foods. This is also a great way to meet locals, make friends, and get inside scoop on places and activities not found in your guide book.
4. Eco-friendly accommodation
As travelers become more environmentally conscious hostels and hotels will use sustainability initiatives as the main selling point, even if it’s not entirely true. They’ll boast about things such as solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, composting, recycling and low-flow toilets. Beware of the phonies and look for accommodations that have proper certifications to back up their claims.
https://bedandtree.com is a great website to search for accommodations and for every accommodation booked a tree is planted.
When you're in a new city or town take every opportunity to walk. It’s not only an excellent way to get some exercise it's also the perfect opportunity to get your barrings and become more familiarized with your new surroundings. When walking is not feasible opt for public transportation rather than an uber or a taxi. I love taking public transportation whenever possible. It's always a bit scary at first, mostly because there is typically a language barrier involved, but once you get comfortable and more confident it allows you to see what life is like through the local perspective.
6. Purchase Carbon Offsets
First, let me explain what a carbon offset is. It is a financial contribution that goes towards projects that help reduce CO2 emissions and or encourage new projects that focus on sustainable energy. In simpler terms, you're basically paying a fee to rid your mind of the guilt caused by knowing how much damage your flight does to the planet. So ten dollars in exchange for a (mostly) clear conscious, sounds like a good deal to me. Many airlines and travel services will offer this service to their customers but if you’re not sure, ask your flight attendant.
Final thoughts …
Climate change is REAL folks, whether you believe it or not, and it is unacceptable to feign ignorance. WE have to make a make a change and WE have to make it NOW. Every action towards a more Eco-Friendly lifestyle is a step in the right direction. So whether you just started composting, biking to work, ditching the use of single use items, or are finally just figuring out how to properly recycle, keep up it! It’s all makes a difference.
We must focus our efforts to tending to the critical wounds we’ve inflicted on our beautiful Mother Earth. ✌️🏽🌎✨💖
To educate yourself further here are few great articles that discuss this topic: