There is overwhelming scientific evidence that due to unprecedented CO2 emissions, we are experiencing climate changes that can prove deadly for all species in the long term. Since today is World Earth day, I thought of writing about a few simple ways we can protect our planet so that our descendants can also travel and enjoy Earth’s beauties as we do now. I am not a hard-core environmentalist myself but I am trying to take at least the minimum steps I can and play my part in protecting the environment. Here’s a few ideas that you can start with to offset and reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Change your search engine
Seriously. Despite Google claiming last year that they are officially carbon neutral, there are other search engines out there going the extra mile by dedicating 100% of their funds (primarily obtained via the usual ads you see in search results) to cleaning our oceans and re-planing our forests. So whilst searching for places to visit, travel to book or places to stay, consider these 3 alternatives to mainstream search engines and every single one of your search will contribute to protecting our planet:
Founded in 2009, ECOSIA is a social business based in Germany who has planted up to date over 60 million trees. On average for every 45 searches through Ecosia you fund the planting of one tree. Pretty amazing!
Ocean Cleanup Group is a non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands that uses 100% of its profit to fund ocean cleaning operations. On average, every 2 searches removes a plastic bag from the ocean. How cool is that?
All of Ekoru’s servers are powered by hydro-electricity so every search is as eco-friendly as possible. 60% of their revenues are directly donated to organisations cleaning plastics out of the ocean and replanting ocean seagrass. They are based in Malaysia, founded by an Australian software developer.
2. Reduce air and car travel
Personally I find it very hard to reduce air travel from country to country since I cannot simply afford using train or boat as alternatives. However, I try to offset any air travel I take by avoiding taxis or cars in the countries I travel to. I rely on public transport, trains, cycling and my favourite way of exploring: walking/trekking/hiking.
3. Reduce beef consumption
Hey, ideally I’d tell you to go vegan. But I won’t as I know how freaking hard it is as I’ve tried it and failed miserably. And I am still trying at times. But change can’t come all of a sudden and habits are very hard to change, especially if they also involve more time cooking and more money spent on certain products. Hence, my advice is to start with small steps and make your way up to bigger ones. Just to put this in a bit of perspective, it is estimated that an consuming an average burger is equivalent of 540-915 kg of greenhouse gas per year! Think about what your contribution could be if you just cut your meat burger consumption in half. If you’re looking for a replacement, I can’t recommend enough Beyond Meat Vegan burgers, which are absolutely delicious.
4. Reduce fish consumption
The main reason Ocean acidity has increased drastically over the past decades is due to overfishing. Overfishing not only destroys the natural balance by removing fish species faster than they can regenerate but also by a massive amount of fishing nets and equipments dumped in the oceans. Despite several companies selling fish advocating for “sustainable fishing” there is increased criticism in the enforceability of sustainable practices at sea. Sea Shepherd for example, have recently become the ocean’s police patrol by stopping illegal fishing activities and denouncing breaches of sustainable practices. Sea Shepherd claim that reducing fish consumption is absolutely fundamental to help regenerating our oceans and drastically offset our carbon footprint.
I would not blame you if you accused me of oversimplifying these issues or not pushing for more drastic changes such as going vegan. However, I come from a realistic and somewhat pessimistic perspective: that many people are simply too comfortable to drastically change their lifestyles and also for many it’s not sustainable to do so. (especially those struggling financially or from developing countries) So in this case our best bet is everyone start with small changes to offset their carbon footprint. As a bonus number 5 I shall leave you with this song by Wanlov the Kubolor and Sister Deborah.