Tips for CouchSurfers concerned about the environment.
The Earth is a finite environment with limited resources which are being consumed at an unsustainable rate. The deterioration of the biosphere is an increasing cause for concern globally. Our mission to build a better world includes a commitment to encouraging behavior that protects our environment. CouchSurfing itself is a big step in the right direction by reducing demand for hotel rooms, which in turn reduces the consumption of building materials and energy for constant climate control. This is even more important in the developing world, where hotels are regularly built in ecologically sensitive areas like beaches, forests, and wetlands. CouchSurfing alone, however will not save our planet. We live together on the same small rock and every action counts. Here's how you can help build a sustainable world and a healthy environment.
8 ways you can protect the earth while traveling
- THINK GLOBALLY, BUY LOCALLY. Transporting food and other products long distances uses valuable energy resources and further pollutes the globe. Buying locally grown food helps in a very real way. Local foods are fresher and may use more sustainable farming methods. Buying local products is also a great way to experience the local culture and expand your experience. When traveling you may not know where to find local products, but your host likely will. Just ask! For more info see 100milediet.org.
- TRAVEL WITH GREEN POWER. As a traveler, much of your energy use will be for transportation. Single-occupancy motor vehicles emit (literally) tons and tons of pollution and CO2. Traveling by bicycle, foot, animal, hitchhiking, raft, train or bus are all very environmentally friendly modes of travel. Cars and mopeds are significantly worse, while planes are worst of all (much of your ticket cost is for jet fuel). While maybe not as fast, more natural modes of travel are often cheaper, more scenic, and healthier for both you and the planet.
- BUY NAKED FOOD. It is best to avoid styrofoam, plastic wrapping, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, etc. These often unnecessary packaging materials involve production and transportation wastes, in addition to the landfill build-up of their discarded contents. Buy from stores that offer products in bulk. Reuse your plastic bags or use a backpack/cloth bag instead; buy unwrapped, unprocessed food; avoid take-out junk food in-a-bag-in-a-bag-in-a-bag... Stop feeding the dumps!
- BUY NATURAL FOOD. Organic food is a bit more expensive, but it reduces the use of pesticides and protects the environment's genetic patrimony by lowering the amount genetically modified pollen that might reach wild plants.
- REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE. Recycling can be hard when traveling in countries where no recycling collection exists, though facilities might be available if you drop off the recyclables yourself. If none exists, reduce and reuse, for instance by buying a solid water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones. Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones. And always recycle any disposable batteries you've used.
- DO NOT THROW WASTE ON THE GROUND. No matter the local attitude towards trash, don't litter. It is important to recognize that even organic materials (bread crusts, fruit seeds, vegetable skins) can be trash if enough people do it. There is also a chance that you will spread a nonnative species or encourage wild animals to start a dangerous feeding habit. And please don't spit your gum out so it embeds itself in the sidewalk!
- BE INFORMED. Don't be afraid to ask locals important questions about environmental issues including, how or if one is supposed to sort recycling, where to find eco-friendly products, and what products or activities to avoid. Locals can tell you about things that you might never notice otherwise
- PASS IT ON. Many people in this world are concerned about the environment but don't know what they can do, while others are not even aware of the issue. You can help by talking to people you meet about environmental issues and sharing ideas about how they too can help.
Sustainable couchsurfing is a concept which aims to bring some aspects of ecological, economic and social sustainability to Couchsurfing.