The older I get, the more I give a damn about the planet I'm living on. While I've never denied climate change, I never made an effort to reduce my carbon footprint before. And growing up? Well, I don't like the dark, and I slept with the light on for so many years (I'm talking way past an acceptable age).

With my growing interest in living a more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle (aiming for zero waste one day, but baby steps for now), I thought it'd be great to start writing some posts on the topic. As someone whose lifestyle is built around travel, here are some of the things I try to do to travel in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
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1. Stay Local.

Let's get real here. Unless you cycle, you'll be using fuel one way or another. And planes? They are just about the least environmentally friendly ways of getting around. As great as it would be to live the jet set life, flying off to new, exotic locations every week, there's probably plenty to do without getting a plane. Besides, who needs the stress of airports? Not me, that's for sure.

Have a staycation, pack up your car for a weekend road trip, or better yet - take public transport where you can! If you live in Europe, you can still visit another country by taking a train. But if you have to fly, book direct where you can. Like stopping and starting at red lights, take off and landing uses the most fuel.

2. Reuse And Recycle.

Instead of buying travel sized items of this and that, purchase reusable containers to fill up with the full-sized product before you leave home. Better yet, re-use old packaging instead of throwing it away. The small pump bottle of hair oil I have isn't going in the bin when it runs out - it's getting cleaned out to make way for another product.

Do you have a water bottle yet? Instead of buying water in shops (which can get expensive), fill it up at the hotel/in restaurants/etc and cut down on a huge amount of waste. It's better for the environment and your wallet.

3. Environmentally Friendly Accommodation.

Whether you're sleeping in a tent or a hotel, there are some things you can do to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible. Look for hotels that encourage you to reuse bedding and towels during your stay. I'm sure you don't change these things every day in your own home, so it shouldn't be any different in a hotel. On a similar note, turn off the lights when they aren't needed and don't run the water for longer just because you're not footing the bill.

Think about the ways that you try to be environmentally friendly at home, and do the same wherever you stay.

4. Be Wary About What You're Bringing Home.

If you like to bring gifts home for your friends and family, be careful with what you pick. The most obvious issue here is that the item will create needless waste if they don't appreciate the token and throw it out after a couple of months. Not only that, but some souvenirs may be made out endangered species and may be illegal (ivory, coral, etc).

Even easier an oversight would be what's clinging to the bottom of your shoes. While going for a hike in a forest by your backyard won't change the ecosystem, if you're coming from afar, you may be carrying bugs, seeds and other living material with you that will and may be invasive. Take a moment to clean your shoes before returning.

5. Go Chemical Free.

Everything from deodorant to sunscreen has chemicals in. It's hard to say what damage they do to you, so this tip is for your health as well as the Earths. Try making your own toothpaste or deodorant (the plus here is that you can cut down on packaging waste too!) and opting for biodegradable soaps.

Since you should be wearing sunscreen every day, search for one that lists zinc oxide and titanium oxide as the only active ingredients. The inactive ingredients should be made up of natural, plant-based ingredients (sunflower oil, beeswax, etc). The best rule of thumb? If you can't pronounce it, be wary of it! (This goes for products you're consuming and wearing).

6. Do Not Pay To Have A Photo Taken With Wild Animals.

By now, we should all be aware that any tourist activity involving wild animals is wrong. By paying for the pleasure, you're encouraging the cycle of supply and demand, my friend. We all want that once in a lifetime experience that no one else we know has had. We all want a photo with a cute animal.

But put aside your fuzzy feelings and show some humanity, damn it.

7.  Leave No Footprints Behind.

I like to think that we're all grown ass adults who are capable of cleaning up after ourselves (and that the adults with kids are responsible enough to make them clean up too), but since there's a whole movement dedicated to 'leave no footprints' and beach clean-up days seem to be growing in popularity, apparently we still need a reminder. So, here it is: take your trash with you and leave places as you found them. You could be moving an animals' home when you pick up rocks and walk away with them.

In the interest of keeping Earth clean and limiting plastic use, try and use paper bags instead of plastic ones! Keep hold of any you get from stores or purchase them from home and garden stores. Don't forget to recycle, too.
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There are so many more ways to be environmentally friendly, but these are just a few of the ways you can begin to make changes. A lot of the ways that you can help save the planet are obvious, but the reminder is needed to get our butts in action. 

How do you try and be more eco-friendly in both your day to day life and when you're on holiday? Leave your tips in the comments and don't forget to subscribe for more posts like this in the future!