June 20, 2023
CM Content Team
Travelling is fun. It gives you a chance to explore new places, meet new people, try new cuisine, and have many new experiences. On the other side, as you travel, you would get a first-hand glimpse and experience of the global plastic problem, and how catastrophic the issue is.
As responsible citizens of the world, it is up to us to take a stand to work individually and contribute our bit to the larger global cause. It is up to us to embrace and consciously adopt eco-friendly travel habits and reduce our plastic footprint.
With the International Plastic Bag Free Day 2023 coming up, you can take a pledge and commit to zero-plastic usage. Before we get into how to reduce plastic usage. Let us first understand what this day is all about.
The International Plastic Bag Free Day is a global initiative marked to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution. The day aims to make people be sensitive towards the environment and avoid the use of plastic, especially single-use plastic bags and other similar products. These products, which may seem like a convenience, pose a huge threat to the environment.
Plastic pollution is a global catastrophe, and it is created by us, humans. Did you know, nearly 500 billion plastic bags are used globally? Imagine the number of bags that are then littered all over the planet, which has a massive impact on the wildlife and environment in general.
Researchers suggest that the marine ecosystem is suffering the most due to plastic pollution. About 12.9 million tonnes of plastic are said to be floating in our oceans, affecting marine life, underwater habitats and hundreds of communities of people who rely entirely on sea and the oceans for livelihood.
These numbers are too overwhelming and send shivers down the spine. Thus, the plastic pollution menace calls for immediate and consistent efforts from individuals, communities, and organisations from across the world to reduce the single-use plastic usage and resort to sustainable living.
While many people have started reducing plastic usage at home, often when they go out or travel, they opt for convenience and resort to using plastic. But the truth is even as travellers, we can be responsible citizens and resort to sustainable travel methods. If you are not sure how? Here are a few simple ways to travel without plastic that you can easily follow.
No matter whether you are travelling within India or overseas or going on a holiday with your family, alone or with your friends, it is natural to have concerns about safe drinking water. You may be worried if the tap water available near you is safe, and you may consequently end up buying bottled drinking water.
But, instead of buying water bottles that are sold in plastic bottles, you can carry your own refillable water bottle. Wherever you go and stay, be it hostels, home stays, hotels, they all offer filtered or boiled water. It is one of the easiest eco-friendly travel tips that you can follow and ask others in your family to do so.
Did you know? The plastic bags you get at the local grocery and convenient stores are nature’s worst nemesis. These bags end up in the dumping grounds or the oceans and do not decompose for more than 1000 years.
Imagine the number of these plastic bag waste people generate every year. The solution to end this problem is quite simple. Every time you travel, remind yourself of the sustainable travel goals and the plastic waste reduction oath you took on the International Plastic Free Bag Day, and carry your own reusable bags everywhere you go.
You can easily find such lightweight bags that easily fit into your backpack. While travelling it is better to have a couple of these bags handy so that you can put anything you buy in them and avoid taking plastic bags from the vendors.
Wherever you travel, you may want to try the local street food, right? And you must! Afterall getting a taste of the local cuisine and culinary culture is a big part of getting the best tourist experience. But, unlike others, you can be a more conscious traveller and contribute to plastic waste reduction by carrying your own cutlery.
This way, you can easily say no to the plastic cups, spoons, and forks that street food vendors offer with their food. This simple, and small step can go a long way in saving the planet and keeping it plastic free.
Travel without plastic is not just a one-time thing. Instead, it is a long-term promise to yourself and a sustained effort to contribute to the larger good of the environment and future generations.
So, every time you travel, be it for a business trip overseas, a weekend getaway with friends or a family holiday, make sure to replace the plastic products you may use every day with similar products made from environment-friendly materials.
For example, instead of using the regular toothbrush, you can use a wooden or bamboo toothbrush. Yes, environmentally friendly travel is easy; it is only about being committed to the cause, being smart and making the right choices.
Whenever you travel to a new destination, keep an eye for the local ‘save the environment’ campaigns or the non-profit organisation activities. You would be surprised that everywhere, several social organisations and NGOs organise clean-up activities.
You can become a part of these organisations or volunteer for a local clean-up activity. This is a great way to clean our natural environment. Also, such a sustainable travel initiative from your end will motivate others to join you and who knows, you may make some new friends and build new communities and work together for a common cause.
Just like plastic bags, the plastic straws are one of the largest contributors to the global plastic waste. If you need to use a straw for whatever reason, then you can carry your own reusable straw. Alternatively, you can simply say NO to plastic straws when you order your favourite drink at the restaurant or try a new local beverage. This is one of the easiest sustainable travel tips you can follow.
If you are going on a camping trip to the hills, you may need to light a stove, or a candle. Majority of these lighters are made of plastic and when you run out of gas, you may dump them in the bin, right? Imagine thousands of such lighters piling up and forming a mound of waste at the dumping ground. That is too much plastic for mother earth to accommodate.
Consequently, when the plastic waste is burnt or crushed, the microparticles get mixed with the soil and spoil the soil quality. When burned, the dangerous fumes pollute the air. To avoid such issues, all you need to do is replace the lighter with a box of matchstick. It is easy to use, much cheaper than the lighter and more importantly, does not cause any harm to the environment.
Did you know? Most sanitary pads have plastic content in them and when you dispose them, they end up in the dumping ground or make their way to the oceans.
So, if you have resorted to sustainable travel, you can make this a habit to use menstrual cups, instead of sanitary pads. You can implement this habit at home also and make a big difference to the world in making it plastic-free.
The menstrual cups are typically made of silicon, and they are reusable. You can use one cup for at least 5-6 years. Alternatively, you can use reusable period panties during your cycle. Both the options are washable, and they don’t have any plastic content.
When you are travelling, you may be constantly on the move. You may want to visit as many places in a day as possible and make the most out of your itinerary. This means, you want to save time on lunch and instead of sitting in one place, you may get a takeaway meal and eat on the go. This is a very convenient option.
But, as a responsible traveller, think of how much plastic waste you would contribute to by such an action. The restaurants pack the food in one-time-use plastic containers, plus they provide plastic spoons, bowls, and disposable products like tissues.
So, every takeaway meal you buy while you're travelling contributes to the plastic waste. You can easily avoid this and opt for a more sustainable travel routine by choosing to dine-in at a restaurant. Also, when you choose to dine-in, you can take a break, relax, and enjoy your meal better.
Another efficient eco-friendly travel tip is to make a conscious choice about where you are staying. Over the years, with the rising concerns about the harmful effects of plastic usage, and the environment pollution, many resorts and hotels have adopted zero-plastic policy and other environment-friendly practices.
So, every time you go on a holiday, research well about the different places to stay, and choose an environment-friendly accommodation, like Club Mahindra Resorts. Club Mahindra has adopted many sustainable practices across its 100+ resorts in India and abroad.
Just as committed as they are to offering world-class hospitality services to the patrons, they are also equally passionate about making a difference to the world and saving the environment. From reducing food wastage to using LED lights across the resort, they do many things to protect mother nature.
Reducing the plastic usage while travelling and otherwise does not require too much effort really. All it takes is a bit of planning and making informed decisions. Plastic is everywhere. Wherever you go, you may see tons of plastic wastage around you. It could be easy for anyone to just accept things as they are and go about their business as usual.
But you must realise that we have only one planet, and safeguarding the world you are living in is your primary responsibility. Having said that, firstly you must firmly believe in yourself that you want to and will make a difference through your actions. As a traveller, make sure that you cut your plastic usage as much as you can, and encourage others to do so.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and so the plastic problem will not be solved overnight. It will need consistent efforts from all of us. If we change ourselves to see the change we want, and join hands, we surely can make a big difference and save this planet from its worst menace called PLASTIC!
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.