We love luxury travel; after all who doesnt enjoy lounging next to infinity pools, sipping Champagne in swanky city hotels and travelling in comfort and style as you see the wonders of the world? But sometimes we worry that our love of luxury has a huge negative impact on the environment, as indulgence and luxury are not often words that are synonymous with sustainability and being eco-friendly. So heres 5 ways that you can make your luxury travel more sustainable, follow these tips and you can happily reduce your environmental impact without reducing your enjoyment of travel.
1. Pack light
OK, lets assume youre going to fly business class. After all, once youve spent the night wearing a sleep suit in Upper Class, stretched out under a duvet on your flat bed, its hard to contemplate returning to economy and doing battle with your seat arm rests as you attempt to twist into the optimum upright sleeping position (that we all know doesnt really exist). But with that extra luxury comes an increased luggage allowance and with that, a temptation to pack more.
One of the things we can do do begin to minimise our impact when we fly includes packing light. The less luggage we have, the less fuel it takes to transport it. Pack clothes that are multi-purpose, accessorise to change the look of an outfit, go ultra light with your tech and luggage; every little helps. Make a list of all of the things that you didnt use on the flight back home to look at when you pack for your next trip. Packing light not only helps save the planet but it also helps save your energy.
2. Carbon offset your trip
When you book your flight, think about offsetting the carbon emissions created from your journey. Carbon offsetting involves making a donation to a company to fund projects which actively reduce carbon production. Its a good short term solution to addressing the huge environmental damage caused by flying. Use one of the many carbon offsetting options found online to calculate how big your carbon emissions will be for the trip you are taking, then pick a project that you like the look of and click though to make your donation.
3. Research your airport transfer options
When you land, think about how you will get from the airport to your location. Using shared forms of transport (public buses, trains, metro systems) has the smallest carbon footprint as you’ll be sharing the impact with the other passengers, but you dont need to exclude the hotel limo service just yet. Check to see if your hotel or resort uses energy efficient cars and you might just be surprised. On our recent trip to Hong Kong we got to take our first ride in the planet friendly, highly acclaimed luxury sports car manufactured by Tesla Motors. The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong have a fleet of electric powered Teslas to transport guests and they are every bit as impressive as the hype would lead you to believe…
4. Pick sustainable accommodation
First thing to do when trying to make that luxury trip more planet friendly is to pick a hotel or resort that has a good sustainability policy. All major hotels and resorts will have one of these and there are some places where youll know they take their environmental impact seriously because theyll be telling you about it on their website, through the press and will probably have won reputable awards.
Look for places that have taken positive direct action like removing the sale of sharks fin soup. Thankfully, some of the worlds biggest hotel groups like Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt have taken a stance against this destructive trade as well as supporting other sustainable initiatives.
Its entirely possible to stay in places where luxury doesnt come at the cost of the planet, like Soneva Kiri the über laid back luxury resort in Thailand where SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences) explains their philosophy well. At the heart of the resort, their Eco Centro garden and recycling hub gives you a great insight into their commitment to being environmentally friendly. Here you can see their bio-fuel station, the recycling plant that sorts all kinds of waste from the resort and the pretty pools with wavering reeds that filter waste water naturally.
One of the biggest positive impacts we can have on the planet is to go vegan, which means stopping eating animals and their by-products. It takes less energy and water to produce food made from plants and there are none of the destructive environmental impacts associated with eating meat or fish. But no need to worry that youll be missing out, most luxury hotels and resorts are able to cater well for a vegan diet and will see making vegan food for their guests as an exciting challenge. If you choose to eat a vegan diet during your stay youll be reducing your environmental impact with every mouthful of food. It takes 920 gallons of water to produce just one 8oz steak, thats the equivalent of taking a 7 hour long shower. In comparison 8oz of tofu (far too much for one meal by the way) takes 150 gallons of water to produce.
Help save the planet and eat vegan on your luxury travels. Try options like those at Six Senses Con Dao where the executive chef and his team can create a whole menu of delicious vegan, healthy and planet saving food for their guests; combining luxury, indulgence and sustainability all in one go.
Follow our 5 ways to make luxury travel more sustainable and enjoy your travels in a more planet friendly way, with a few simple choices we can all begin to reduce the impact we have on the planet whilst still enjoying the finer things in life.
Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest.
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