by Maya Reyes
Graphic courtesy of Deanna Klima-Rajchel
Millennials—deemed the “Green Generation”—are more concerned about sustainability than any other generation. However, it’s not always easy to travel the world and take care of it at the same time. It takes effort. By tweaking your transportation and making small changes to your itinerary, you can significantly reduce your travel footprint.
It’s not surprising that college students tend to be more concerned with cost rather than what is the most ‘green’ way to travel.
“I know it’s terrible, but I always just pick the cheapest and most convenient option when I travel,” said Lauren Blackburn (COM ’19), who is currently studying abroad in London. “I’ve never really thought about how to make it more environmentally friendly.”
Public transportation is a popular solution. Walking, cycling and taking trams are all easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint. These are often the cheapest ways to get around cities and they also allow you to see more sites and maximize your experience in a new place. When traveling longer distances, try taking the train or jumping on a bus, as these options are usually cheaper and greener than airplanes. For anyone wanting to visit other countries throughout Europe, train travel and buses offer easy access to other countries.
One round-trip flight from Boston to Europe emits an estimated two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person. If the only viable option is air travel, be a more responsible flyer and take a direct, nonstop flight, which uses less fuel than connecting flights.
Another way to travel green is to choose wisely where to travel. The Ethical Traveler lists Belize, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Tonga and Uruguay among some of the most ethical places to travel. This is due to their policies on social, animal and environmental welfare.
“I visited Iceland this summer with my younger sister and I was stunned by its greenery,” said Maisie Mansfield-Greenwald (CAS ’20). “There were a bunch of us piled into a massive van that took us around the country. Vehicles weren’t allowed off-road since the government protects all national parks and wildlife. Many of the hotels consciously conserved energy. The toilets used minimal water and the lights automatically shut off when we left the room. It was simple, high-tech living.”
If you are an adventurous traveler who also wants to add to the world, think about travelling with Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF). This organization partners travelers with farms, so that they can work in exchange for room and board. This worldwide movement links volunteers and builds a sustainable community. It also gives you plenty of time to sightsee.
Even if you are just traveling from one side of Boston to another, there are ways to be greener. Students at Boston University can be more mindful about travelling with a university-wide program, RideShare. The sustainability program matches travelers based on destination and preferred time. Richard Mendez from the Office of Information Technology created the program after members of the BU Student Union presented him with the idea.
“We’re matching up students, faculty and staff members who would probably never meet otherwise, said Menendez. “It’s a good way to create dialogue that goes beyond the dorm and the classroom.”
Although you might have to forgo some luxuries with “green” travel, it’s something everyone should take into consideration when planning a trip.