Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

April 1, 2010 by

Places to Go, Travel News & Alerts

Earth Day, Sustainable Living, Carbon Offsetting

Happy Earth Day

At Viator.com we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about sustainable travel, and about how we can make a difference. That’s especially true now, as we approach the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2010.

There’s no denying that travel – air travel in particular – is a major source of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Any serious attempt to grapple with global warming must include a strategy to offset the negative impacts of domestic and international travel.

One thing we’ve done at Viator is create a carbon offset program for both our staff (who will collectively fly an estimated 1.5 million miles this year, so we have plenty of minimizing and offsetting to do) as well as for you, our customers and fellow travelers. To offset your own carbon emissions, visit our Go Carbon Neutral page and learn what you can do to help.

Beyond mitigating the impact of travel, we wanted to learn more about sustainability in general. Minimizing the impact of travel is a great start. But it’s only one piece of a much larger (and frankly complicated) puzzle. To give us some perspective we asked Paul Redman-Brown, the director of Australia’s Natural Strategies Group, to give us his top 10 tips for living a sustainable lifestyle. We hope Paul’s list of 10 sustainability actions strikes a chord with you. It did with us.

#1 Reduce & offset car emissions

Ride a BikeA litre of petrol produces about 2.5kg (5 lbs) of greenhouse gases, while a US gallon produces nearly 15 lbs of greenhouse gases. So let’s use less and offset the emissions we “have” to have. Here are some suggestions:

  • Drive less – walk, ride & use public transport instead
  • If you must drive, plan to do a number of errands in one trip rather than several trips and save both time and fuel (for the first couple of minutes of a car trip the engine is cold and this results in an increase in fuel consumption)
  • Inflate tires to the maximum recommended pressure
  • Travel light – an extra 50kg (110 lbs) increases fuel consumption by 2%
  • Remove roof racks to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag
  • Drive a smaller, more efficient car
  • If driving a manual select the correct gear – driving in a lower gear wastes fuel
  • Drive more slowly – at 110km/h (68 mph) your car uses 25% more fuel than at 90km/h (55 mph)
  • Use the air-conditioning sparingly – air-conditioning increases fuel consumption by up to 10%

#2 Embrace energy efficiency

Energy EfficiencyEnergy conservation through the adoption of efficient technology and behaviors saves resources and money. Here are some simple starters:

  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, produce the same amount of light, and can last up to 10 times longer.
  • Block the summer heat. Install blinds and sun shades or plant deciduous trees to prevent the summer heat from over-heating your house.
  • Circulate air. Install ceiling fans for cooling in summer and circulating rising heat in winter, and decommission your air-conditioner.
  • In winter, turn your heating thermostat down a few degrees (say to 20°C or 70°F) and bundle up
  • Let nature work for you. Use your clothes line rather than the clothes dryer.

#3 Buy renewable electricity

Every time you use electricity in your home, greenhouse gases are belched out on your behalf. So buy the clean stuff! Simply seek out and purchase 100% renewable electricity from your local provider, or offset your normal electricity supply with carbon credits from trees or renewable electriciy.

#4 Invest ethically

Your investments may fund activities that are not sustainable and may be contrary to your ethics. Money talks, what is yours saying?

  • Find an ‘ethical’ or socially responsible financial advisor. Check sites like the Ethical Investment Association Australasia, or the UK’s Ethical Investment Co-Operative.
  • When making an investment, ask yourself: does my investment support or detract from my stated position or ethics?; does my investment add to or detract from the quality of world my children will inherit; would I support what this company is doing if there were not dollars to be made by investing in it?

#5 Eat less meat

Organic FoodLand used for beans and vegetables produces 10 times as much protein as land used for raising beef. Sound scary or impossible? It’s not the difficult, here’s how you can start:

#6 Promote sustainable living

Help spread the word about those actions we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment. Spread the word about sustainability: The more discussions, arguments and gentle cajoling we engage in, the better. So do the actions to move yourself toward sustainability and then encourage others.

#7 Carpool

Those regular trips to work, the market or school can be done with others — and you’ll have more fun, use less and spend less.

  • Car pool to work. Send an email around work asking if anyone lives close to you and if they would be keen to alternate driving to work with you.
  • Car pool to the store. Speak to you neighbour and explore if they’d be keen, and if it’s convenient, to share the regular trip to the supermarket of local food markets.
  • Car pool the kids to school. Speak to the parents of your children’s local friends and see if you can alternate driving the kids to school (this one means less time on the road for you, too!).

#8 Immerse yourself in nature

Go hiking, bird watching, swimming in the sea and simply enjoy nature and your connection to it. It’s good for the body and great for the soul. We are blessed with a fantastic natural environment, and the adage “Use it or lose it!” applies abundantly to this shrinking and under-resourced part of our society. So organize a family picnic at the botanic gardens, a sea-kayaking adventure with your mates, or a short walk through some rainforest you come across in your travels. Take a deep breath and be thankful for nature’s wonder.

#9 Generate less, use less

The average Australian or American household wastes over $1,000 dollars per year purchasing items they never use. So use what you buy, buy less and save. Some simple ideas to get your creative processes rolling:

  • Eat all the fresh and takeaway food you purchase. Don’t waste it.
  • Buy a lunchbox for leftovers and take it to work
  • Have a couple of “clear out the fridge” meals prior to the next visit to the grocery store
  • Get better at only buying what you’ll use.
  • Pause every time you go to buy clothes, shoes, etc… and ask yourself if you really and truly need the item.

#10 Buy local & seasonal food

Locally produced food that is grown in sync with the seasons is fresher, healthier and tastes better. And it doesn’t consume as much energy to produce and transport. Here’s what you can do to support locally grown foods:

At Viator we’re doing what we can to take every step, even small ones, in the direction of sustainable travel and sustainable lifestyles. We hope you take this journey along with us.

-Viator Travel Team



3 Responses to “Living a Sustainable Lifestyle”

  1. Laura Modlin Says:

    It is really important to be aware of how we interact with the planet. There are a lot of things we can do while traveling to remain sustainable. I wrote a story on my blog called, “Eating local far from home.”

    http://thefarmingjournalist.com/?p=442

    Hotels are becoming aware that people care about what they put in their bodies. And eating local wherever you are helps the environment! As someone who loves to travel, I am happy to see this trend.

    Thanks, Laura

  2. Mrs chitra singh Says:

    as i m a yoga teacher and commited worker in zerowaste and green ways how can i be a member of a bigger group so that i could mount more preesure to convince others for greener world. With lots of teaching and yogic style healthy methods doctorate in Yoga on ‘Pure scientific yogic preventive way of life 21st century role model” how can i be a part of powerful institution so i could be instrumental in implmenting the ideas.
    Thanks alot
    chitra singh
    yoga teacher and sustainable developer
    Jaipuria school
    Lucknow

  3. Michele Says:

    A lot of people are aware of this greenhouse movement but cease to actually commit themselves to ensure a more sustainable lifestyle. This is especially true when people travel because the good habits one possesses at home may be forgotten when traveling to different places. People tend to forget that car emissions are bad for the environment or forget to conserve electricity in their hotel rooms. Yes, vacations are an escape from real life but it is still important to take good habits with you when traveling to other regions of the world.