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3 Jan 2022

Five green travel resolutions you can actually stick to

Simple, guilt-free swaps to help you cut the carbon of your 2022 holiday

New Year is a time for reflection and many of us have resolved to reduce our carbon footprint this year. But fear not: being greener doesn't mean giving up on travel altogether.

In fact, a few quick tweaks to your holiday planning could not only make your trip greener - but cheaper and more authentic too.

Tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world's emissions and COP26 has shown how much needs to be done to slow the devastating effects of climate change.

Yet the right kind of travel can have a positive impact on the fragile ecosystems and communities we visit.

Read our five easy tips to enjoy a more sustainable holiday in 2022.

Find a responsible tour operator

You'll be starting off on the right foot if you book with a company that's serious about its eco credentials. Maybe they give back to the local community like Intrepid - travel's largest global B Corp (a company recognised for meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance).

Not only does it help improve the livelihoods of vulnerable communities by offering skills training and jobs, its not-for-profit foundation has contributed more than £8million to 137 organisations since 2002.

Fellow B Corp and Spain and Latin America specialist Pura Aventura offsets 160% of its customers' emissions - from their front door and back again - funding a reforestation project in Nicaragua.

It is also one of the few operators, alongside Much Better Adventures and Which? Recommended Provider Exodus, which has started carbon labelling its holidays. The calculations show the CO2 emissions created by each trip, similar to calories on a chocolate bar.

Eat local

People eating homemade Chinese food
It's been estimated that around half of the food served at an all-you-can-eat buffet goes to waste.

Even UK hotels are said to produce an estimated 79,000 metric tonnes of food waste each year, according to campaign group Sustainable Travel International. That's equivalent to the weight of eight Eiffel towers.

We also need to consider how many miles those ingredients have travelled to reach our place. Remote island destinations are especially dependent on imports. Up to 80% of the food consumed by tourists on the Pacific Islands is brought in from overseas.

Where possible eat in local restaurants, which cook with local and seasonal produce. Not only will you get to sample some authentic dishes, you'll be supporting the economy too.

Choose less polluting airlines

plane flying in a sunset sky
A Boeing 747 carries 240,000 litres of jet fuel and burns through a whopping four litres every second. We know that flying is carbon intensive, leading many of us to experience flygskam - a Swedish term meaning 'flight shame'.

But snapshot research from Which? found that simply choosing a different airline can dramatically reduce your impact.

Type your journey into Skyscanner or Google Flights' search tool and it will highlight the greenest flights for your route. When we checked, passengers could save more than 480kg of CO2 by booking return flights from London to New York with jetBlue rather than British Airways.

The saving is significant: 25 trees would have to grow for one year to capture the same amount of carbon, according to non-profit organisation Climate Neutral Group. The less polluting flight is also nearly £70 cheaper.

You can slash your emissions further by flying economy. Business and first class are responsible for up to four times more CO2 per passenger because of the space they take up in the cabin.

Take the train

Binge flying isn't sustainable; so consider taking just one holiday a year which involves flights - and stay longer.

This won't just help you switch off and immerse yourself in a place, it will also provide more economic benefit to the community you're visiting. You can then top up your travel tank throughout the year with several shorter breaks closer to home.

If you love a city break, consider travelling by rail. Some destinations are actually quicker by Eurostar once you factor waiting time at the airport and transfers to the city centre.

Our research found you could arrive at Brussels almost two hours quicker by taking the train. You'll also cut your emissions by a whopping 94%, according to data from online tool EcoPassenger.

Keep tours and souvenirs ethical

When buying souvenirs, it goes without saying to avoid ivory, tortoiseshell, reptile skins, furs, corals and seashells.

However, you should also swerve plastic junk and rare wood as well. Instead browse shops and market stalls for art, textiles or local food and drink.

Be wary of excursions involving wildlife. When we mystery-shopped 10 popular holiday companies in 2018, we found nine selling tickets to facilities where animals were reportedly kept in poor conditions, or were forced to perform for entertainment.

These included tigers made to jump through hoops of fire and alligators with their jaws taped shut. Never ride or have your photo taken with a captive animal. They may have been subjected to an abusive training regime to make them 'tame'.