Sunday 20 October 2019

Eight easy ways to make your holiday (and life) more eco-friendly

Small changes can make a big difference to your holiday footprint, our Travel Editor says

Have you tried eco-friendly sunscreen?
Have you tried eco-friendly sunscreen?
Single-use plastics are an increasingly urgent environmental issue. Photo: Deposit
Rubbish washed up on beach. Photo: Getty
Plastic rubbish is a devastating problem for the world's beaches and wildlife. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Holidays are about switching off, but they can also be a surprisingly good time to make and break habits.

Free from your routine, it's easier to introduce small lifestyle changes. Here are eight ways to lighten your footprint on hols... and at home.

1. Bring bags

Tote or sturdy, reusable plastic bags are handy for togs, beach gear and shopping trips on hols - particularly in countries where plastic bags are still doled out at every opportunity (Kenya has banned plastic bags; Spain has not). Grab yours every time you head out.

2. Switch sunscreen

Chemicals in sunscreen can be toxic to life in the oceans and lakes we swim in. Searching for a good eco-friendly alternative, my latest try is a lotion from Green People (above, €22.50 for 200ml at a local health store).

The verdict? I've found it thick, and tricky for kids to apply, but it wears comfortably, is free of harmful chemicals and 10pc of net profits go to charity.

More: 10 top tips for a plastic-free holiday

3. Think about toiletries

Hotel bathroom. Photo: Deposit

Hotel toiletries are a treat. Those little bottles and leftovers, not so much (see Invest in travel-size bottles refilled at home, or go further by asking your hotel, resort or favourite restaurant to look at Oceanic Global's Oceanic Standard. It's a super-practical guide to help hospitality businesses to reduce single-use plastics.

Read more: The shameful truth about leftover hotel toiletries - and one man's heartwarming response 

4. Pack a water bottle

Single-use plastics are an increasingly urgent environmental issue. Photo: Deposit

More than a million plastic bottles are sold every minute, according to Euromonitor (Just 9pc are recycled). Save money on car journeys and holidays by refilling your own, reusable ones. Most supermarkets have a selection, and there's a nifty range at Stock Design in Dublin.

5. Say no to straws

Plastic Drinking Straws

An easy win, and something more businesses are championing (Royal Caribbean will rid 50 ships of straws by 2019, it says). Don't forget the cocktail stirrers, too!

6. Watch the wipes

Baby wipes (stock photo)

As a dad, I shudder to think how many wipes I've reached for. Since learning that they contain plastic (and that gazillions are flushed down the loo to become 'fatbergs' and ocean trash), however, we've cut down drastically.

7. Leave no trace

Rubbish washed up on beach. Photo: Getty

It goes without saying that we should take our rubbish away from parks, beaches or hikes. But consider taking one or two other pieces of litter, too. I think people are less likely to mess up places that are already clean (for inspiration, see the #take3forthesea campaign).

8. Involve the kids

Harness that pester power by giving the kids some ownership over your new regime. We're doing a 'Plastic Patrol' - getting ours to write down the single-use plastics our household encounters, and working together to cut down or introduce alternatives.

Once they feel part of it, they're like a little police force.

PS: Bring your new habits home! Start straight away, before getting swept back into your usual routine.

Read more:

Pól Ó Conghaile: The Irish businesses taking small steps to solve a big problem

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