Having lived a nomadic life – staying in any one city for barely a year – I have become more of a tourist and a green one at that. A green tourist is one who makes simple and seemingly small choices in order to lessen their negative impact on the environment.
With my “leave a place better than you found it” as a guiding principle, here are some tips on how to be an eco-friendly traveller.
1. Pack Light
Pack only the clothes you need and buy your jewellery and footwear in Watamu. Not only will you be supporting the local economy, but also you will reduce your carbon emission. How? You ask. When flying every kilo counts. The more kilos your luggage, the more the plane weighs, the more carbon emissions you produce.
Also, whenever you can, book non-stop flights. The airplane take-offs and landings are the greatest creators of carbon emissions.
2. Carpool or take the train
Using public transport or carpooling means you are not creating additional carbon emissions that you would if you used private transport. Plus, travelling with strangers makes for good networking and more interesting travel experiences.
3. Enjoy a local beer. Drink a Tusker
Drinking a locally brewed beer ensures your beer leaves a lower carbon footprint due to reduced ‘beer mileage’. A beer increases its carbon emission based on distance, mode of transportation and weight of the bottle. The longer the distance the higher the carbon dioxide emission. Ship, road or train travel generally produce less emissions compared to air. It also ensures that your drink is better quality.
4. Eat local
Indulge in fruits, vegetables and meats that are either grown at home or from local farmers’ markets. Not only will your meals be full of flavor, but also loaded with the right nutrients.
Buying locally grown food is not only good for the environment, due to reduced carbon emission from traveling. but is generally better for you as it is fresher and has had less time for nutrients to be lost. Are you in a mood for a madafu yet? Or better, wanna go fishing for your dinner?
5. Feel at home and act like it
When you get to your room, feel and act like you are home. I bet you don’t change your sheets and towels daily at home. Why do you ask that the towels be changed daily at the hotel? At home, do you leave the TV or lights on after leaving a room? So why are you leaving them on at the hotel. And you will not be any cleaner by taking an unnecessarily long shower. How about your save more water by showering with a friend? And please don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth. Thanks.
6. Carry a reusable BPA-free bottle
More often than not, the hotel will offer you bottled water. But as a green traveller, if you have your own water bottle you can just ask for a refill. I mean, plastic pollution is already at an all-time high. No need to contribute to the problem. As part of being the solution, Lonno Lodge produces their own water, through a desalinator (water maker) which is 100% safe for drinking. This is part of their progressive elimination of single use plastic even as they plan to introduce glass bottles.
7. Skip the hotel laundry
Giving out your clothes to be laundered at the hotel is not only expensive, but very resource wasting as every guest’s load, however small, is washed separately. Unless of course you are at the hotel for a long stay and you end up with a sizeable wash load.
8. Don’t be shy to carry home your toiletries
Any leftover soap, shampoo, shower gel, allocated to your room is often thrown away. How about you carry your leftover and finish them off at home. While at it, you can reuse the bottles they come in. If the hotel uses refillable dispensers, as is the case with Lonno Lodge, you may leave the bottles for the next guest to enjoy.
9. Return the printables
I can bet my money that you will not even open that brochure that you picked. Return that map too. If the information in that brochure is very necessary, or acts as memorabilia take a photo or ask the hotel to send you an email. Let future travellers make use of the brochures.
10. Buy souvenirs from local artisans
You’ve probably heard it said ‘when you buy from a business, the local owner does a dance’. In other words, buying directly from an artist helps them feed their family. At the same time, you are helping preserve their culture, plus these artistes are known to have some amazing stories when you chat them up. Then again who wants a cheap souvenir that was mass produced in a China factory?
11. Get your feet moving
Explore Watamu on foot as much as possible. Or hop into a boda-boda, tuk-tuk or matatu. Not only does it help you immerse yourself into the local culture, but also reduces your carbon print, while giving you a good workout. How’s that for a win-win-win situation?
12. Stick to designated paths
When hiking or going on a drive, choose to be driven around by experienced tour guides. At Lonno lodge, they offer only 4W drives through specialised agents. This ensures they only tread the marked trails. This is important because going off the designated path could mean tampering with endangered or protected plants and animals.
13. Drink straight from the bottle
Ditch the plastic straw whenever you are taking soft drinks or juice. Not only is plastic straw the single most water pollutant, drinking from a straw promotes premature aging especially on the face. If you must use a straw, opt for a stainless steel straw. It’s not only environmental friendly, but looks classy too.