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The ‘guilt-free’ staycation guide – seven tips for making your holiday more sustainable

Sustainable hospitality expert Raquel Noboa shares her checklist for a carbon-conscious staycation


Raquel Noboa of Fifty Shades Greener at Dunbrody House, Co Wexford

Raquel Noboa of Fifty Shades Greener at Dunbrody House, Co Wexford

Raquel Noboa of Fifty Shades Greener at Dunbrody House, Co Wexford

AS IRISH hospitality prepares to reopen, there's a real glimmer of hope, both for holidaymakers and a holiday industry itching to have a “normal” summer season.

Before you pack your bags, however, have you considered having a “green” staycation? Here are seven tips for starting as you mean to go on with sustainable trips.

1. Research your accommodation options

For a “guilt-free” staycation in terms of environmental impact, you can opt to stay at either of the two carbon-neutral hotels in Ireland, Hotel Doolin or The Falls Hotel, both in Co Clare.

But there are many other accommodation providers that are making superb efforts this year to reduce their own impact on the environment. I normally stay away from any company that has an environmental policy on their website but nothing else. A policy without a plan, and clear environmental data, is just words written on a website.

Check for websites that go deeper than just a policy page – see if they have a green page with their environmental data and targets for reduction, for instance. At the end of the day, if a business is not measuring environmental impact, it really might not be as sustainable as it says it is.

2. Bring your own travel toiletries

If you are like me and hate, hate, hate those dreaded single-use plastic mini-toiletries, then bring your own! If you have chosen green-certified accommodation, then chances are they will have reusable bottles of shampoo, gel and soap, but just in case, I always bring my own. Write a small bathroom checklist before you pack to ensure you do not forget any items. This will ensure you never need to use single-use toiletries.

3. While in Rome, do as the Romans do

When you are visiting a new destination, support local shops, business and activity providers.

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There is nothing like exploring a new area with a local guide. You will discover secrets that you would never have found on your own, plus you are also providing financial benefits to the hosting community that is so graciously welcoming you on your holidays.

4. Consider your food choices carefully

Checking if your chosen restaurant uses local suppliers and local produce in their menu can make a huge difference when it comes to food air miles. Try out local restaurants, ask for recommendations of their local dishes and avoid large international restaurant or coffee shop chains.

5. Bring your reusables with you

Every hour in Ireland, we dispose of thousands of takeaway coffee cups that end up in landfill. Every hour! Investing in your own keep-cup and keep-water-bottle will reduce your plastic waste all year round, not just during your break.

6. Leave no trace

Indoors and outdoors; leave the places you visit in the exact same way as you found them. Particularly while outdoors, ensure you take away your rubbish.

Don’t collect rocks or natural souvenirs. In nature, everything is in its place for a reason and while we can enjoy our surroundings, it is important to leave everything the same way we found it.

7. Offset your trip’s carbon footprint if you can

Calculating your trip’s carbon emissions is easier than you might think.

While there are many aspects of your staycation that will not allow you to calculate your footprint, transport is the easiest one to tackle and a good starting point.

There are several carbon calculators online that will help you work out your footprint.

Also consider donating to a carbon offset project, but remember it is not all about planting trees. Sea-health restoration, bogland, soil restoration and biodiversity projects are well worth getting behind too.

Raquel Noboa is a sustainable hospitality expert and founder of Fifty Shades Greener, which runs a ‘Greener Hospitality’ programme subsidised by the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board and SOLAS. Participation is free for Irish business in the hospitality or tourism sectors. fiftyshadesgreener.ie

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