Holiday carbon handprint

Last year we travelled by Euro Tunnel to the north of France and camped in the sweltering heat with a toddler, it was hard work even though amazing.

This year we’ve decided to come to Thailand for our holiday, but we also still want to try and enhance our Carbon Handprint and reduce our environmental impact while here.

Transport

Flying

We booked non-stop flights, as it’s the takeoffs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions, and flew with Eva Air, their Environment and Climate Change Governance webpage is extremely detailed compared to others.

Carbon Offset

You can also use their Carbon Footprint Calculator to work out how much CO2 your flight will generate.

We used the ClimateCare calculator which bases the calculations on the emissions factors which are provided by DBEIS (from the UK government) every year.

These give the emissions intensities for many activities, including flying, and include a number of factors, such as well-to-tank (the emissions incurred in getting the fuel from the ground to the plane) as well as many others.

They also include radiative forcing in their calculations, on the recommendation of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University.

Driving

While here we’re driving, and unfortunately the choice of rental cars was very limited but if you do decide to drive, it’s always worth considering renting a hybrid or electric car as they use less fuel and produce less carbon emissions.

However whenever possible we either walk or use public transport to get around, which cuts down on air pollution as well as saving us money on petrol.

Accommodation

We’re going to stay a total of 4 nights in a hotel, two at the start of the holiday and two at the end, the rest of the time we will be in an AirB&B.

AirB&B

We were fortunate enough to find an AirB&B in the location we wanted to stay and within our price range.

Staying in an AirB&B is like staying in your own home, it has a lower environmental impact and we have more control what we use and are better able to minimise waste.

Hotels

For the first two nights in Bangkok we stayed in an Accor Group hotel, they are working towards zero carbon (on their new and renovated) hotels by 2020.

By the end of 2015, 21 of their hotels (most of which were in the UK, Germany or France had obtained or were in the process of obtaining LEED, BREEAM, HQE or DGNB certifications.

Certification

Some hotels use certain environmental assessments which calculate how sustainable they are again certain criteria which include: site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.

Many U.S owner hotels use the LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council or BREEAM from the U.K BRE.

Other recognised certification programs include: 

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the place you’re staying at, some questions we’ve asked:

  • Is there a recycling scheme available?
  • Does the hotel or property use solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting and low-flow toilets?
  • Is the food sourced locally?
  • Do they use locally sourced materials?

Water Saving tips

We tend to have a shower instead of a bath, and turn off the water while lathering up, shampooing, shaving and brushing our teeth.

When staying in hotels, we always try to remember to hang up our towels after each use, as housekeeping will take them away to be washed otherwise.

We also never use the laundry service in a hotel, but as we’re staying in a house, we are able to do our own washing (at a low temperature, using liquid detergent and softener) and hang clothes to dry.

Energy saving tips

When we leave our hotel room or house, we always turn off all lights, heat/AC, and television. Closing the curtains and blinds can help keep out the heat of the sun in summer.

We also leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for the duration of our stay. This cuts down on cleansing, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens.

I usually take any leftover soap, shampoo, or toothpaste with me. Unused portions are often thrown away, but they’re a great travel option.

Sight seeing

We tend not to go on organised tours, rather we prefer to do our own research and visit places we want to see. We stay away from the touristy destinations, mainly because I hate big crowds but also by doing it our way, we have less of an environmental impact.

But if you do want to go on organised tours, Membership in an organization such as The International Ecotourism Society is a good sign that the tour operator tries to conduct itself in a responsible and sustainable manner.

We try to leave no trace of our visit and pick up a few pieces of rubbish we see on our trips, so it doesn’t end up sinking into the ground or ocean. 

It’s also important not to buy anything made from endangered plants/animals, unsustainable hardwoods, or ancient artifacts.

Wildlife

We never feed or touch wildlife. Feeding animals makes them habituated to and reliant on humans, and often leads to attacks. If you get bitten, the animal will most likely be killed so we always keep our distance.

We don’t go to any “wildlife” centres or go on any elephant rides as they exploits the wildlife, such as the famous performing elephants of Thailand.

The sea

My husband absolutely loves snorkeling and scuba diving and always makes a point of not touching the coral or stir up any sediment, as it can damage the reef’s fragile ecosystem.

Food, glorious food

Again we stay away from the big international chains and prefer to eat at local restaurants or do our own shopping at local shops – buying local sourced food helps the local community.

What we packed

Clothes wise we packed as little as possible and stayed well below the airplane weight limit for each of us.

But things we brought with us, which we’ve constantly used since being here include:

Give back

I wish I’d heard of the non-profit organisation called Pack For A Purpose who provide much-needed supplies to local schools. By simply using a small amount of space in your luggage you can pack supplies needed by community projects around the world.

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