50connect, the UK’s largest editorial-led website aimed at today’s over 45s, has created a carbon-friendly, green travel guide as World Environment Day approaches on 5 June.
“The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Kick the CO2 habit’,” says Rachael Hannan, editor of 50connect. “Research published* in 2007 shows that although 80% of the over 50s are concerned about climate change, those aged 50-64 have a carbon footprint 10 to 20 per cent higher than any other age group at 13.52 tonnes a year, due to holidays and lifestyle choices.”
“Our guide shows that with a little extra planning, you can still see the world, but at the same time reduce your carbon emissions and contribute in a positive way to the economy in your chosen destination.”
1) How can travelling have a negative effect on the environment?
We each have our own carbon footprint. Every action that causes greenhouse gas to be emitted increases our personal footprint - for instance boiling a kettle (60g of C02) or using a tumble dryer (2’600g of CO2). The average British citizen has a footprint of around 11 tonnes a year. Scientists warn that this needs to be reduced to 2.5 tonnes to stop global warming, and the way we choose to travel can have a huge impact on these figures.
Tourism is quickly becoming the world’s largest industry and aviation is one of the greatest contributors to global warming. Flights are cheap, so it’s no surprise that air travel is a popular choice when going on holiday. What you may not always realise is the huge amount of carbon dioxide created every time you fly. A return flight to New York adds 1.2 tonnes to a person’s carbon footprint**, so adding these extras makes a huge difference.
2) How easy is it to reduce your carbon footprint when on holiday?
Tourism is still vital to the world economy; if we were to stop travelling altogether this would have a negative impact on global warming. Developments such as National Parks and Protected Areas, which make up seven percent of the world’s land mass, are often supported by tourism revenues. So getting the balance right will ensure you can continue to travel, but with the benefit of a clear environmental conscience.
Going green on holiday means paying attention to details you’d normally take for granted. Websites such as Expedia and Orbitz are now being updated to include lists of eco-hotels, based on criteria such as energy sources used within the hotel, environmentally friendly products such as soap and shampoo supplied during your stay and if the hotel has been awarded an ‘energy star’ mark of excellence.
Local culture is also crucial to ecological travelling. Causing disruption and harm to a foreign environment can have costly consequences to the area, so researching decisions before you travel helps minimise damage.
With this in mind, book your holiday with an organisation that helps local people and their environment. Sites such as Intrepid Travel (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/) and Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) have lots of information to help make these choices.
3) What about holidays that don’t involve flying?
Taking a break in the UK is becoming a popular alternative to booking a package trip abroad. With hundreds of fascinating and beautiful destinations, it can be a practical and carbon-reducing option. Details of Britain’s more popular tourist attractions can be found on the ALVA website (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions – http://www.alva.org.uk/). You can view a map of holiday hot-spots alongside a list of museums, galleries, heritage sites and leisure attractions.
Travelling by train is a popular eco-friendly transport option, but this doesn’t limit you to UK destinations. European cities are easily accessible - travelling by Eurostar to Amsterdam, for instance, takes six hours from Waterloo and can cost around £69. Impulsive travellers seeking adventure should give Interrailing a go.
Ferry and coach travel are another carbon-reducing alternative to booking a flight. Research shows that on average the carbon footprint for coach travel is 5.58 times lower than the damage caused by flying. Great value for money and an expanding choice of destinations are making ferry transport a popular ‘green’ option. Sites such as thekingsferry.co.uk offer further carbon-neutral information.
For those who want to keep themselves healthy along with the planet, websites such as SaddleSkedaddle (www.skedaddle.co.uk/) organise cycling holidays ranging in style, destination and ability all over the world. These can be fantastic alternatives to traditional family package holidays, and don’t rely on hiring a vehicle or internal flights while abroad. Destinations range from off-roading in The Pyrenees to picturesque bike tours around Japan.
4) How can I be a green tourist?
• If it's practical to reach your chosen destination by train then do so - you are likely to cause only one eighth of the emissions of flying. Alternatively, travelling by ferry can be a cost effective and ‘green’ option
• Think about taking fewer short breaks by air. They are more polluting per passenger mile than longer flights, as take off and landings generate a significant part of the total emissions per flight. Choosing a direct flight as opposed to a stop-over is also helpful
• Enjoy fewer, longer breaks where your holiday creates some real benefits to conservation and local communities - ask your operator for their written responsible tourism policy to ensure this is the case
• Offset the carbon emissions of your flight with a company such as Climate Care - www.climatecare.org - which funds projects including cleaner burning stoves that both reduce carbon emissions and benefit local communities
• Check before you buy plant and animal products abroad. Don't buy trinkets or other goods made from coral, tortoiseshell, ivory or other endangered species
• Accept that to combat climate change, we all need to take responsibility for our carbon footprint, and ensure we choose travel companies that give something back to the environment and local community
5) Where can I find more information?
These websites offer details and suggestions for greener travel.
* Source - www.sciencedaily.com
** Source - Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester
50connect (www.50connect.co.uk) is the UK’s premier lifestyle portal for today’s over 45s. We are the largest independent and most established web site in the mature market, attracting a sophisticated, affluent audience. 50connect was founded in 2000, and became a standalone business in 2005 when the company was bought by current shareholders. Editor Rachael Hannan has worked with 50connect since its inception and recently oversaw the launch of the new-look site in January 2008. Seasoned journalists Michael Wale and Andrea Kon contribute to the site; Michael as environment correspondent and Andrea as resident agony aunt and relationships expert. 50connect.co.uk is recognised by the eSuperbrand council - made up of high profile marketing, publishing and internet figures - as one of the leading online brands in the country alongside the BBC, Lastminute and eBay.
Here are some statistics about the mature market:
* 35% of the UK’s web users are over 45
* 1/3 of over 50s are online
* 60% of over 50s shop online
* By 2020 over half of the UK population will be over 50
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