Taking a trip? Take sustainability with you

Keith Soster
Release Date: 


This time of year can be filled with exciting travel plans. Whether you’re traveling to a warmer climate getaway, visiting family and friends during semester breaks, or enjoying a holiday adventure, it’s a time to leave the normal day-to-day routine and enjoy downtime. spring breakBut that doesn’t mean we need to leave our sustainability efforts behind. No matter where you are going, travel can still be earth-friendly

Here are some quick tips to stay sustainable during your trip:

Road trip! Travel with others - one person in a car is not sustainable so if you’re driving to your destination, fill up your car with friends.

  • Fly -- if you’re traveling by yourself, it’s actually much more eco-friendly to fly! If you have the time, traveling via bus, train, or ship generally has less negative environmental impact than traveling by plane.

  • Try to book non-stop flights whenever you can: It’s the takeoffs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.

  • Use electronic ticketing -- airports are fully online and saving paper by not printing your ticket or boarding pass can add up to lots of saved trees.

  • Take your refillable water bottles/travel mugs along. Many international airports have free water dispensers, which saves you money and wasting plastic bottles.

  • Take a shower. Showers are more efficient than baths, using just 10-25 gallons of water, while baths use up to 70 gallons.

  • When staying in a hotel, reuse your towel. Hang up your towels after each use, which is the universal sign that you’d like to use them again. You don’t wash your towels every day at home, so why do it when you travel? Many accommodations now request that guests reuse towels as often as possible.

  • Use less water. As you do at home, when in the bathroom- turn off the water while brushing your teeth, washing your face

  • Take along reusable bags when shopping for souvenirs. The bags will also be a great way to store and transport your purchases on the way home.

  • And while shopping … support the real local economy. Locally made crafts and souvenirs are not always cheaper, but purchasing them ensures your contribution to the economy will have a more direct and positive impact. Items that are flown or shipped in have a much larger carbon footprint and isn’t the point to have a remembrance from the location you visited?

  • Walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around whenever possible, which cuts down on gas usage and saves you money.

As you’ve found at home, simple easy steps can make a big difference in your global footprint. Steps you can take along when traveling.

Happy, sustainable trails!

Keith Soster is the Director of Student Engagement for MDining. At the core of Keith’s work is outreach, putting him in constant with  students, suppliers and campus stakeholders with a focus on advancing initiatives for a greener, healthier campus. He is responsible for student and community connections both on and off campus, and serves as the sustainability lead for Student Life.