Non-destructive Travel

There has been a lot of fuzz about our “carbon footprint” and most articles on non-destructive traveling start and end with quoting our unsustainably high carbon dioxide emissions on international flights. The obvious result of these well-intended pieces is that readers can’t hear it any longer and lose interest in non-destructive travel altogether.

The climate isn’t getting any cooler but our heads should. You should have a warm interest in leaving behind a healthier planet, or this article is not for you.
So, are you still with me? “Non-destructive travel” is about reducing the depletion of resources we leave in our wake as we live our lives. We all contribute our share to the trashing of this planet, the stripping of minerals, fossil fuels, groundwater, biodiversity, fresh air, glaciers, rainforests, fish, lakes, reefs, river deltas, peet swamps, tundras, everything we f*cking destroy. Watch the brilliant series “The Story of Stuff” on a small, energy-efficient screen for more.
– So non-destructive travel is refusing to continue this bullshit at least while you’re out of your home.

We know there is a necessary transformation we have to make at home, but things aren’t just so flexible there. The paperwork for your new solar panel is late, you can’t afford replacing that old boiler, there’s not enough cash in your clunker, using rainwater for the garden seems far-fetched, you have no idea where to dispose of your batteries, non-toxic detergent is too expensive, the kids keep nagging, and so on.

While traveling we have a unique chance to try out all this good stuff. We can start sharing a little, go to a less westernized hotel, experiment with vegetarian or vegan food, take a bus instead of a rental car, cook with a small stove, save water and drink from the source rather than a plastic bottle, or, heck, if we are intrepid adventurers we hitchhike, camp and couchsurf our way to everywhere, bathing in the river using a small piece of organic soap, eating raw food and telling folks we meet about this lifestyle that is a curiosity now, but a necessity tomorrow.

Chuckle over the irony here as I provide you with loads of “resources” to get you started on non-destructive travel:

Food
You should consume local food, preferably produce that needs little water and fertilizer. Avoid meat and processed food. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Say no to herbicidal gene-crops, do eat fermented food. Prepare food in large quantities in advance to reduce energy consumption.
Here’s a collaborative list of Organic Farmer’s markets in Australia, Canada, South Africa, UK, US
See also http://www.ifoam.org/.

Here’s a fun footprint/foodprint calculator, showing you how many acres it takes to support your lifestyle, and how many planets it would take if every human being would live your standard of living: http://www.footprintnetwork.org

Shelter
Couchsurfing all the way! For those worried about CS going corporate, check out the alternatives (bewelcome, hospitalityclub, wwoof, workaway etc). Spread the message of non-destructive traveling as you travel by convincing your hosts. Use blankets instead of room heating, sleep in one room and don’t heat the other. Sit in shade and do not use air-con. Cook together.
For high-end travelers, research an eco-lodge and demand solid environmental impact data before spending the night there.
For low-end travelers, information about where it’s safe to camp outside is easy to find, and a survival handbook on your e-reader (see below) can be very useful.

Move
Try to avoid flying. Long-distance buses are the champions of fossil fuel efficiency, and flexible to organize, but you can easily go beyond that.
Try joining as a crewmember on a yacht (google’s a good resource) or start browsing “Couchsailing” (!)
Hitchhiking will never be the same with hitchwiki.org and hundreds of blogs by experienced hitch-hikers like
followtheroad.com. Blogs about bicycle trips crossing the Americas from Anchorage to Ushuaia or Africa from Cairo to Capetown, or Eurasia from Paris to Beijing are easy to find and provide a great resource, even if you only go part of the way.
Or just walk, here’s the longest possible road to travel on foot: http://www.odysseyxxi.com/

Entertain
Buy an ebook-reader! Virtually everything published more than 70 years ago is freely at your disposal in PDF format through www.gutenberg.org. Also create wiki-books of open-source travel guidebooks like wikitravel.org. You have all the distraction you need, e-readers don’t consume any paper and hardly any electricity, especially if you use a portable solar charger.
If carrying books: exchange, swap, share! It’s a great way to connect and spread the vital message of non-destructive traveling.

Suggestions are welcome, and could you share this non-destructive post, please?

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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