As described in my 30-Day Eco Challenge email course, I’m not a fan of purchasing carbon offsets. I see these as more than just an investment in the planet’s future. By purchasing carbon offsets, you are also investing in someone else’s financial future. Saving that money for your own renewable energy investments, or for donations to accountable non-profits, makes more sense. But, before you dish out cash, I offer an alternative solution to help you travel carbon-free. You can create your own personal carbon offsets.
Air travel is often blamed for high carbon emissions contributing to climate change. But every daily decision we make has an impact. The food we eat, the things we buy, the time our faucet is on, etc. all add to our global ecological footprint.
My plant-based diet and zero-waste lifestyle reduced my annual carbon footprint by 5,300 pounds (2.4 metric tons CO2eq). This number doesn’t mean much without context. So, I compared it to the transportation emissions from my recent Puerto Vallarta trip:
- The round trip flight accounted for 925 pounds GHG emissions (0.42 metric tons CO2eq).
- This trip included many walks direct from my hotel into town with most vehicle time spent in a van carpool. The boating trip included 19 of us plus the guides. I estimated these extra emissions at approximately 130 pounds (0.06 metric tons CO2eq).
- So, total transportation emissions from my trip were 1,050 pounds (0.48 metric tons).
Since I save 2.4 metric tons carbon each year, I earned my trip to Puerto Vallarta in just under 2.5 months.
Using the Exist Green web application, you can calculate your own ecological and carbon “savings”.
Other ways to reduce your travel footprint:
Stay in a walk-able area.
This allows you to take in sights off the beaten path. My favorite sights included colorful buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and powerful ocean waves.
Seek out and support restaurants serving plant-based or local options.
My favorite find was Salud, where I enjoyed a vegan thai peanut bowl. I sat outside and watched both locals and tourists like me go about enjoying the beautiful day.
Pack with zero-waste in mind.
Alter your thermostat at home before you leave, and in your hotel while you are out.
My biggest worry in Puerto Vallarta was remembering to turn my ceiling fan off when I left. I slept each night with an entire wall of windows open to the ocean breezes.
Make a list “and check it twice”…
I was so proud of my packing abilities this trip. But, since I left my house at 4 AM, it didn’t dawn on me that I left the sunglasses at home. I ended up caving and buying some fake Ray Bans from a beach vendor. This type of wasteful consumption was not how I wanted to start 2017. Learn from my mistake 🙂
Explore and support outdoor natural areas and parks.
Tourism supports ecological conservation around the world. Just be sure to conserve and protect while you enjoy. Or, as they say in Mexico:
“Cuidalo, Protegelo, y Aprovechalo”
Translation: “Take care of it, protect it, and enjoy it”
Avoid your own inadvertent ocean pollution while picking up ocean pollution…
My last morning on the beach, I slipped off my sandals for this beach litter pickup photo shoot. When I wasn’t looking, the tide swept up and stole my sandals off the shore. They are still present when the camera snapped this picture (lower right corner). Besides being super bummed about losing them in general, I was even more bummed with where they ended up.
Happy travels and bon voyage! Where’s your next adventure?