By Isabel Clift
Everyone loves a stolen weekend away, but your typical short-haul city break incurs a heavy carbon footprint. Here are five green travel tips to make your city break more eco-friendly:
1) Choose a green city
Urban areas generate tonnes of carbon emissions, but some cities are actively working to reduce this by creating more eco-friendly infrastructure. If you’re planning a city break, think about visiting places that make it easier for you to reduce your trip’s carbon footprint: Reykjavik, for example, runs entirely on geothermal and hydroelectric power, and has busses powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Other green cities include Stockholm, which has reduced emissions by 25% over 20 years and runs all trains and inner-city busses on renewable fuels, and Vancouver, where 90% of power is drawn from renewable resources.
2) Get there without flying
Commercial flights use up huge amounts of fuel during take-off and landing. Avoid adding the tonnes to your carbon footprint by travelling by train or coach for short-haul journeys: watching the land and architecture slowly change as you cross borders makes the getting-there part of the magic. Also, you’re likely to arrive at the city’s central station, rather than at an outskirts airport – saving you time and reducing extra transport emissions incurred getting to the city centre.
3) Stretch your legs
Once you arrive, you’ll be raring to explore! Walking or cycling from sight to sight means you’ll be able to get far more of a ‘feel’ for your city destination, and it’s obviously a 100% green way to get about. Some cities do cycling better than others, though – Copenhagen has well-established cycling routes and Paris’s Velib’ scheme makes biking round the city easy. If you’re not cycling, using busses and metro systems is preferable to taxi rides – and your wallet will thank you later, as well as your eco-conscience.
4) Stay at an eco hotel
Hotels are getting greener – do your research and you’ll be able to bag yourself an eco-friendly place to stay that won’t break the bank. Look out for hotels that take a responsible approach to every area of their operation, from providing refillable pumps for bathroom products (instead of producing mini plastic toiletry bottles), to employing local staff on a fair living wage. Other things eco hotels can do include recycling waste, introducing low-flow taps and grey water recycling systems, using energy-efficient lighting, going on a green energy tariff (a la City Lights City Centre Deluxe in New York) and powering water heaters with rooftop solar panels (like Mellow Eco Hostel Barcelona).
5) Support local businesses
Shop at farmers’ markets and independently-run stores, eat at restaurants that source produce from local suppliers and support the regional arts and heritage scene by attending concerts and exhibitions, as well as visiting galleries showing local artists. These all give a boost to the local economy and support the people and ways of life that make the city what it is.
Ready to travel greener? See the AnyTrip Blog for more eco travel tips.
Isabel Clift is a travel writer and blogger for AnyTrip.com, a travel company based in the UK. She lives in London, loves vintage fairs and organic food, and tries her best to balance a love for travel with an eco-conscience!