By Holly Tuppen
On the 22nd of April, 2 billion people all over the world will act collectively to do something positive for our environmental future, creating the biggest Earth Day and environmental movement in living history. So even if green campaigns and environmental petitions aren’t your thing, it’s as good a time as ever to contemplate how you can make your world a little greener.
Holidays are a good place to start, since the sacrifice these days is minimal. Whether it’s referred to as eco, green, responsible or sustainable, going green on holiday for many conjures up images of hessian-wearing hippies, compost toilets and worthy hosts. Thankfully, things have moved on. From simple campsites to five-star luxury, green holidays are more common than you might think and these days, they are often better.
Fancy giving green a go? Here’s a few things to consider for your next trip:
Flying is the big elephant in the room when it comes to having a green holiday. Whilst I love the fact that the world is so accessible to so many people through air travel, some of my best travel experiences have in fact been flight-free. Some flying might be essential, but it’s worth considering alternatives.
For starters, the UK offers heaps of good old-fashioned family holiday fun—often for less money and hassle. Hole up in one of the National Trust’s self-catering cottages, let the kids play farmer at a Feather Down Farm campsite, go on safari at Longleat in Dorset, take advantage of the UK’s family-friendly cycle paths or get lost in one of the UK’s 15 national parks. And if that all sounds a bit rural, urban spots in the UK are just as good at catering for kids: try being a Viking for the day in York or travel from the ocean to the stars at the World Museum in Liverpool.
If the UK is not on the cards, then jumping on a train to Europe could be. Getting the Eurostar to Paris rather than flying uses an impressive 91 percent less carbon. Eurostar also lets under-four-year-olds travel for free. Europe’s rail links are improving all the time—it’s now possible to get to Amsterdam from London in under five hours and to the south of France direct on Eurostar. If you factor in transfers and waiting-time at airports, sometimes the train is an efficient option. Trains with kids can also be lots of fun, especially since younger ones are happier being able to move about rather than wriggling under the constraint of their seat belts. Resist immediately turning on the iPad and try and get everyone stuck into the adventure (a massive picnic and a whole lot of patience helps).
Green up your holiday
Regardless of how you get there, you can always pick somewhere green to stay. Lots of hotels now have pretty impressive green policies including everything from sourcing local food to solar-heated water systems and zero-landfill targets. It’s also often the green accommodation options that offer the best experiences, with passionate hosts offering authenticity without sacrificing whatever the level of comfort required.
In the UK check out the magical little B&B Beechenhill Farm and whizz through the Dales on their electric bikes, or head to the Bedruthan in Cornwall for family fun with an eco edge. If food is your thing, in France the beautiful guesthouse Les Orangeries recently won the Sustainable Restaurant of the Year Award, and kids will love the straw bale huts at Terre et Toi. Further afield Kasbah du Toubkal offers families responsible Berber hospitality in the Atlas Mountains, Soneva Resorts are top of the game when it comes to barefoot luxury for all the family in Asia and Ekies All Senses offers an eco-chic vibe in quiet Halkidiki.
Greentraveller lists eco-accommodation options and activities that are accessible without flying.
Responsible Travel lists responsible holiday packages and companies all over the world.
Canopy and Stars is a great site for glamping and unusual accommodation options.
The UK national parks website will inspire you to get outdoors close to home.
Green Hotelier is a leading publication about green hotels around the world.
About the author:
Holly has been writing about adventures near and far ever since setting off on a two-year “around the world without flying” adventure in 2008. Today she lives in Hammersmith with her 10-month-old son, exploring London and beyond. Alongside writing for the likes of The Guardian, Mr & Mrs Smith, Running in Heels and Real Travel Magazine, Holly is editor of Green Hotelier and runs the blog Weekendist. Find out more on www.hollytuppen.com or @hollytuppen.