HAPPY GREEN HOLIDAY!

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By Bernadette Thomas

When I was a kid, my parents would pack me and my siblings into the car, hook up the caravan, and drive to the beach for three weeks of sun, sand and surf (along with endless games of cricket, comic reading and board games). These days, along with beach holidays, we are just as likely to pack the kids onto an A380 and head to Europe for a white Christmas. Wherever you go and however you travel these holidays, it’s worth remembering to pack your green habits in your pack.

If you’re flying somewhere, you’ve pretty much blown your carbon budget for the year! But there are a number of things you can do to reduce your emissions impact from flying, like packing light, travelling in economy class, taking a direct flight (you’ll have to give up those stopovers!), and not ordering food that you won’t eat and will end up as waste – ask your airline what they are doing to reduce in-flight waste before you buy your ticket.

Fly with an airline who not only offsets the emissions from your flight, but also has a record of reducing emissions from its entire operations. The Atmosfair Airline Index (www. atmosfair.de/en) compares and ranks the carbon efficiency of the world’s 200 largest airlines. They’ll also sell you offsets for your flight.

If you haven’t yet decided on a destination, and want to make sure that your accommodation and activities are as green as possible, then take a look through the EcoTourism Australia website. They have a lot of well-known organisations as partners – UNESCO, Parks Victoria, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Trip Advisor (green leaders) – so there’s bound to be something that will interest you. Ask your accommodation provider about where they source their energy, what they do with their recycling, where they collect their water, and if they compost their food waste. Remember, you can vote with your dollar and go elsewhere if they don’t come up to scratch; but before you do make sure you let them know why.

If you plan to buy gifts for family and friends you don’t have to do what I did years ago and made up a hamper of energy saving light bulbs, water efficient showerheads, low phosphorous cleaning products and recycled paper; it went down like a lead balloon! Fortunately, these days you’ve got plenty of options for green gift giving. Consider doing it Kris Kringle/Secret Santa style so everyone only receives one gift; buying experiences (movie, art gallery, ten pin bowling tickets); purchasing a voucher from one of the many social and environmental charities (Oxfam and Rainforest Rescue are two of my favourites) or choosing ethical options (check out the Ethical Consumer Guide at www.ethical.org.au) or one of the many online shops that now sell all manner of ethically produced items.

Wherever you decide to spend your holidays, remember to take along a few essential items – refillable steel water bottle, reusable coffee mug, napkin/tea towel, different sized Tupperware container/s, reusable cutlery and plate – that way you’ll resist the temptation to rely on disposable items and won’t be creating a mess for another community to deal with when you leave.

And if, like me, you’re having a staycation, then just apply your normal green habits and resist the urge to excess, except maybe where chocolate is concerned (did someone say “Haigh’s”?)! 

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