Books on a beach
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Eight ideas for planning a sustainable summer holiday

Are you looking forward to your summer holiday? I know I am. But is it possible to plan a sustainable summer holiday that doesn’t further burden the planet? Whether you’re opting for an action-packed adventure, a relaxing beach holiday or a city break, here are eight simple things you can do to minimise your impact this trip.

Choose your destination carefully

Flying is highly polluting, especially those short-haul flights. So why not consider taking a train instead? After all, a third of the busiest short-haul flights in Europe have train alternatives that take less than six hours. 

And it’s got to be said. Taking the train is far less stressful than going through airport security. Another option is to drive. Car ferries leaving the UK go to France, Spain and the Netherlands. 

But if you do choose to fly, look into airlines that sell more seats, have more efficient aircraft and are committed to being more sustainable. You could also consider going to less well-known destinations. Famous spots often suffer from over-tourism, causing air pollution and putting a strain on local food and water resources. 

Clean as you go

Heading to the beach this summer? How about taking a bag for rubbish every time you go for a stroll? It’s easy to do and it’s good to know you’ve left the beach cleaner than it was. 

If lonesome wandering isn’t your thing, check out community-organised beach clean-ups and connect with others while you’re at it. There are plenty of projects in the UK, including Sea Shepherd UK Marine Debris.

And while you’re at it, you might want to join millions of volunteers around the world on World Clean Up Day 2022. You could even plan ahead and organise your own. World Ocean Day has great resources for that. 

Use eco-friendly sun creams

Protecting your skin from sun damage is obviously important. But did you know that chemical sun creams are bad for the environment? Twenty-five percent of your sun cream washes off in a 20-minute dip in the sea. 

Some of these lotions have oestrogen in them. And others can cause coral bleaching. Both are a serious threat to marine biodiversity. Luckily there are creams available that don’t contain harsh chemicals and won’t cause damage to marine wildlife. 

Be aware of all-inclusive resorts

It’s true that all-inclusive resorts are convenient. But they can have a huge impact on local economies that rely on tourism. If you’re going all-inclusive this year, do venture outside the resort to help support the community. 

Resorts often source the cheapest food possible. And it’s not always local. This means huge amounts of food are flown in and lots of food from the all-you-can-eat buffets gets wasted. Where does that waste end up? You’ve guessed it: landfill. 

Be daring and try the local restaurants. You might even find the authentic local cuisine to be better! 

Don’t buy what you don’t need

We all want to look and feel amazing when we go on holiday. But do you really need those new sunglasses? Chances are, that summer dress you want won’t be fashionable next year. Or it’ll fall apart before then and end up in landfill. 

Instead, familiarise yourself with your wardrobe again. Can those old jeans you don’t wear anymore be turned into shorts? Be creative. And if you do have to buy something new, invest in sustainable items that will stand the test of time. 

Take a reusable water bottle

A staggering 15 million single-use plastic bottles are produced every day. And each bottle takes around 450 years to decompose. If you’re heading somewhere hot, you’re going to need a lot of water. But you can avoid adding to the plastic mountain by investing in a reusable bottle. 

I’ve been using one for years and can’t go anywhere without it now. Mine’s a thermos bottle that keeps the water cold in hot temperatures. And it keeps tea hot in the winter too, meaning I get to use it year-round. 

Use less air-conditioning

Air conditioners use lots of energy and emit greenhouse gases. Giving up air conditioning completely is definitely the best solution. But some places are just far too hot for us Brits. So if you do have to use the AC on holiday, avoid having it on constantly. Instead, use it intermittently to cool the room down and then turn it off. 

A fan uses far less energy and is surprisingly effective. And if you put a bowl of ice in front of it, it’ll blow cold air into the room, just like a DIY air conditioner! Humidifiers also cool down a room and use less energy than AC. But before you do any of that, do simply pulling down the blinds to keep the sun out could do the trick.

Travel light

If you’re going somewhere hot where you need less clothing, consider taking carry-on luggage only. Heavy luggage needs more fuel to transport. And you might be surprised how much you can fit into a small bag. 

I’ve travelled with carry-on luggage many times and have never thought ‘I wish I had that extra dress and shoes’. But I have taken check-in luggage and only used a third of what I brought.  

A more sustainable summer holiday doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun. And it doesn’t have to cost lots of money either. In fact, you could end up saving money! With a little thought, you can have the time of your life and be kind to the earth at the same time.