Earth Day is a movement that was designed to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. To support the Earth Day movement and help our volunteers to be more carbon conscious travelers, we’ve pulled together this list of simple tips to reduce your carbon footprint when traveling…
1. Take a Shortcut
Finding the shortest flight path to your volunteering destination is one of the most powerful ways you can reduce your carbon footprint when traveling. Pick a direct flight wherever possible, or a flight path with the least stop-overs. If you’re tossing up between two different volunteering destinations, opt for the closest country to help reduce your carbon emissions! Explore IVHQ’s volunteering destinations here and use this handy calaculator to weigh up the emissions.
2. Sharing is Caring
When volunteering or traveling, power in numbers always applies! If you’re keen to make a trip from your volunteer accommodation to visit the local markets or to go sightseeing via private transport - be it via taxi, tuk tuk or Uber, don’t forget to ask your fellow volunteers if anyone else is planning a trip. Likewise, plan your weekend getaways in collaboration with your fellow IVHQers, so you can cut costs, as well as carbon emissions!
^ While volunteering in South Africa, grab a crew of your peers and catch the sunset from Peers Cave!
3. Au Naturale
When tossing up how to spend a weekend, always default to natural! Take advantage of the natural attractions on offer to reduce the carbon emissions involved in machine-fuelled activities - snorkelling at a local beach, or hiking up a nearby mountain are nice and natural options.
4. Buy Local
Buy local produce and products wherever possible and avoid packaged food if you can! This gives you the perfect excuse to sample the local cuisine and absorb as much of the local culture as you can. As a volunteer traveler, rather than hauling a suitcase of donations over from home, wait till you arrive in country to assess the needs of your placement and tailor your local purchases accordingly. This ensures that you’re not doubling up on supplies and avoids creating waste.
5. Stay For Longer
Our volunteers always tell us that they wish they had volunteered for longer, and some end up returning to their volunteer program just months after leaving. If there’s a high chance you’ll catch the IVHQ bug and think 2 weeks just won’t be enough, why not apply to volunteer for longer so you can reduce the carbon emissions from flying back and forth?
6. Trade in Four Wheels for Two
The less wheels the better! Whether you’re trading in your taxi for a two-wheeler or a trip on foot, your carbon footprint will be thanking you for it!
^ There’s no better way to explore Hells Gate as an IVHQer in Kenya
7. Be Water-Wise
Don’t buy bottled water if the tap water is safe to drink in your volunteering destination. Research the country before you travel and if it’s safe to drink, bring a reusable bottle from home and don’t forgot to bring it back with you. Local coconut water straight from the source is carbon footprint-friendly too!
^ Drink of choice for IVHQers in South East Asia
8. Go Camping
While it’s not always possible to set up camp for the night, if you have the option between a hotel room and a tent, your carbon footprint votes “tent”!
^ It’s all part of the IVHQ Victoria Falls experience!
9. Sub A Shower for a Waterfall
While substituting running water for a running waterfall may not be a reality in many places, if it’s a possibility - run with it!
^ A must-do for IVHQers in Ghana
10. Read Rather Than Scroll
In your downtime, reserve your smartphone battery and chill with a book, rather than scrolling Instagram.
^ Don’t get distracted by the view in Morocco
11. Offer to Offset
When you return home (or even before you leave), there are a number of ways you can offset your carbon emissions from flying to your destination. At IVHQ, we provide a platform for you to offset your carbon emissions via this Carbon Footprint Calculator. To mitigate the environmental impacts of the flights we take from our office in New Zealand to visit our volunteer programs abroad, we are taking both a proactive and reactive approach - through supporting a nation-wide education program focused on sustainability within New Zealand schools in partnership with Enviro Schools, as well as offsetting our measurable carbon footprint via tree planting initiatives.
We’re always looking for new ways to reduce our overall environmental footprint and we’re proud of recently becoming 100% carbon neutral, while implementing a series of activities that will see us reduce our emissions over time. Learn more about why we became carbon neutral here.