Written By: Georgia Carter
Exploring the world is a dream many of us hold. We have the whole world practically at our fingertips, and we’re longing to reach the extended hand of adventure and welcome its embrace. But travelling can take a hefty toll on the environment.
From plane rides to single-use plastics, tourism can be littered in environmental damage. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. While we will still be taking planes to reach our desired destination, there are various habits and behaviours we can adopt to mitigate the dangerous impact travelling can have.
Caption: While travelling is a lifeforce for most of us, the negative effects of certain actions harms the very environment we seek to immerse ourselves in.
Credit: Niklas Weiss, Unsplash
What is sustainable travel and ecotourism?Sustainable travel can be simply defined as making simple choices to lessen your environmental impact. It's finding ways where travel and tourism can be maintained without harming natural and cultural environments.
Ecotourism is the encouragement of environmental preservation, where wanders and travel-related businesses and services aim to minimise the negative impacts of tourism and instead adopt healthier standards of sustainability within the tourism trade.
Modes of transport and their carbon emissionsUnfortunately, travelling requires various modes of transport - and transportation contributes to one fifth of the global carbon emission. While the world will continue to rely on transportation, and until we glean significant sustainable evolution in the field, we all need to do our best to travel mindfully.
Caption: Planes are among the worst forms of transportation in terms of carbon offset.
Credit: Ken Yam, Unsplash
Below are the different carbon offsets produced by each mode of transport:
How to lessen your carbon emissions when travellingWhen it comes to your personal carbon offset in terms of transportation, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your emissions.
Below is a list of 5 actions you can implement when travelling that will help decrease your carbon offset:
Caption: Riding a bike is one of the most eco-friendly modes of transport, and it helps you better witness, immerse, and understand the new destination.
Credit: Netbike, Unsplash
What is eco-accommodation?24% of all carbon dioxide generated from tourism comes from accommodation. This transpires through the overuse of water, electricity, and plastic.
Eco accommodation refers to a place holding a strong commitment to mitigate harmful practices on the environment. It’s an airbnb that runs off solar power, a bed and breakfast that uses homegrown, organic produce, and a hotel that encourages recycling.
Caption: Eco accommodation is defined as a space that’s dedicated to maintaining the health of the environment.
Credit: Jared Rice, Unsplash
Here are a few ways you can check if your chosen accommodation is an eco-friendly option:
An estimated 40% of all carbon emissions by 2050 will be caused by tourism. While travelling is almost essential to many of us, it’s important to remain mindful of your actions and shift your focus on maintaining a sustainable lifestyle even while abroad.
12 tips for environmentally friendly travel
Caption: Camping is by far one of the best and most thrilling ways to experience a new destination. It’s also the most affordable and healthiest form of accommodation for the environment.
Credit: Pars Sahin, Unsplash
By Georgia Carter
Technology is always evolving. With increased awareness of the environment and the wellbeing of the planet, innovation is taking the lead in green.
Revisiting and reimagining existing everyday products is happening as we speak - one such invention is the car. Our humble vehicles take us from point A to point B, and while some of us don’t give much thought to the fuel and emissions our motors emit, they still come at a cost to our Earth. Luckily, more eco-friendly transport options are joining the fast lane.
Caption: Millions of cars shroud the city streets, emitting tons of harmful chemicals and contributing to air pollution.
Credits: Conor Williams, Unsplash
Electric cars are already here, and they’re only getting better as we evolve. But first, what exactly are electric cars, how do they work, and are they considered green transportation?
What electric cars are and how they work?
Electric cars are vehicles powered by electricity rather than diesel or gasoline. Some special cars are even fuelled by hydrogen from fuel cells that transform the chemical into electricity. Generally, electric cars are cleaner in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution as they harbour no exhaust.
Caption: A painted sign signalling a charging port for electric cars.
Credit: Michael Marais, Unsplash
The electric car was first conceived in 1830 when inventor Robert Anderson attempted to build one with non-rechargeable cells. While that model never took off, novel designs and feats in engineering ensure the potential future of eco-friendly transport today.
There are two types of electric cars. The first relies on plug-ins or charging ports to fuel them up, while the second is an auto-charge, requiring fuel that automatically charges the battery when not being used - these are Hybrid vehicles.
Examples of these cars include the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius, and, of course, the renowned Tesla additions.
Caption: A sleek Tesla electric car design.
Credit: Tech Nick, Unsplash
Statistics of fuel-dependent cars
Steel, glass, plastic, rubber, battery acid - these are a few of the many materials it takes to make a car. Each item has already forgone the production phases that each cost the earth. Now, a profusion of already-harming products crafts your motor. Even before hitting the road, cars cause chaos to the Earth’s wellbeing.
Caption: A car workstation is filled to the brim with harmful waste products that often end in landfills.
Credits: Egor Vikhrev, Unsplash.
However, it’s the driving of the car that creates the most damage. Greenhouse gasses are constantly emitted while the car uses litres of petrol and gasoline to manoeuvre. The very extraction of petroleum from the Earth is already devastating enough, both short and long-term - and the demand is only increasing.
Fortunately, our society is slowly shifting to a more sustainable future.
Energy sources and environmental impact
Electric cars are paving the highways to the future, but how eco-friendly are they right now?
An already produced and purchased electric car is currently less dependent on fossil fuels as it requires no petrol. Since there is no exhaust, between 17 and 30% fewer emissions are being released into an already hampered atmosphere.
Electric cars are manufactured using more recyclable and reusable materials, ensuring not every piece is simply thrown away after one life span. Furthermore, electric cars need lower maintenance, saving more resources and money.
In essence, an electric car is better for the environment in terms of air pollution, more recyclable, and relies less on fossil fuels. That sounds like the perfect option, right? While they’re more eco-friendly than your average car, there are still some vital setbacks that need to be addressed before labelling these cars as the ultimate solution to transportation.
An electric car requires between 9 and 13 hours to charge, and they need electricity to power up. This electricity often comes from the city’s electric grid, which utilises...fossil fuels. This creates yet another closed circuit of resources that harm the environment further. Hybrids rely on petrol to charge the battery anyway, so while they’re more fuel-efficient, they still depend on it.
Caption: An electric car charging station.
Credits: Ernest Ojeh, Unsplash
But even before they need charging, the actual production of electric cars creates huge amounts of waste. These cars rely on Lithium-ion batteries to operate, which often have a short lifespan. Once dead, it’s extremely difficult to reuse these batteries, and the disposal of such batteries often isn’t performed with caution.
In addition, electric cars use more emissions to create than a normal car. In fact, more than one-third of the car’s lifetime-emitted CO2 is made during the production phases.
There are two sides to every coin, and there’s no difference when it comes to electric cars. They’re far superior and more eco-friendly than their fossil-fueled counterparts but more harmful in other aspects. Luckily, this is fast improving with time and the scientific and technological advancements it brings. These innovative changes to transportation are already at our doorstep, or shall I say garage.
We’ve all heard of Elon Musk's brainchild, Tesla. This company is at the zenith of innovation and engineering. And now, they’re summiting the peak of electric cars.
Caption: The Tesla Logo.
Credits: Presilla Du Preeze, Unsplash
The design and technology harnessed for Tesla cars are unparalleled. Each motor uses significantly fewer parts than any other car, resulting in decreased production levels and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the company is incredibly switched on when it comes to saving the environment. Tesla’s mission statement is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla cars have their unique charging ports independent of the electrical grid, relying on and charging solely off solar power. This method has saved over 75 million gallons of gasoline. “We are focused on creating a complete power and transportation ecosystem from solar generation and energy storage to all-electric vehicles,” their impact report says.
Caption: A Tesla charging station. Each charging station is off the grid and supplied with solar energy.
Credits: Torbjorn Sandbak, Unsplash
Tesla tracks their emissions at every stage, from manufacturing and warehouse use to retail and charging; they’ve thought about it all. Their concern for a sustainable future is even apparent in small details, such as the lights in the car being LED and the paint used is eco-friendly. Tesla’s ultimate goal is to power all transportation using 100% renewable energy, and it looks like their dream will soon become our reality.
Cars will always be around. Their invention has saved time and become one of the world’s largest dependencies. Now more than ever, we need to rethink the transportation world to mitigate the harm we’ve already created.
Electric cars are driving sustainable solutions. But - although we’re not quite there yet - with the rise of Tesla a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, and the rugged road we’ve been following can take a sharp turn for the better.
There are many questions that still lack efficient answers, like how will developing countries receive charging ports and how will we tackle the grand challenge of waste management. Still, we can conclude - the future is electric.
Green technology solutions are no longer new concepts. In fact, many companies and households already use green tech products. However, only a few per cent of the world uses these technologies, making its impact lower. People should start to use green tech solutions today to make a significant change in the future. Among these green tech solutions, here are some that more people worldwide should be using, from electric scooters to urban vertical farming.
Cars, buses, and other fuel-powered vehicles have long contributed to the issue of greenhouse gas and global warming. In fact, transportation accounts for a fifth of the world’s carbon emissions. However, electric vehicles aim to resolve this by reducing harmful emissions and slowly cleaning the air in the long run. An example of a popular electric vehicle is electric scooter technology which is gaining attention because of its convenience and accessibility. However, are electric scooters eco-friendly? How do electric vehicles help the environment?
Since electric vehicles don’t need fuel, it does not emit any harmful gases, reducing carbon emissions present in the air. Moreover, most electric vehicles are manufactured through eco-friendly processes and materials. This further reduces the product’s environmental impact for its lifecycle. For example, the electric car Nissan Leaf is partly made of old car parts, plastic bags, and water bottles. Owners with electric vehicles can also reduce their impact by charging their vehicles using renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
Adopting more electric vehicles, like eco electric scooters, will move global transportation into a more sustainable future.
Many companies, especially huge tech brands, are moving files and data from paper to cloud. Cloud-based storage solutions are an increasingly popular green tech solution because of its space and cost-saving benefits. It eliminates the need to use more equipment in the office, reducing energy consumption as well. In fact, a report says that using more cloud storage and processes could reduce electricity consumption by 25 to 45%.
Investing in cloud storage solutions and processes also make it easier for people to share information. It promotes the idea of paperless offices, reducing paper waste and the need to cut down trees. Moreover, it supports remote work, reducing the need to commute every day to work and carbon emissions from vehicles.
Lastly, eliminating hardware reduces the opportunity for computer parts to end up in landfills. In the US, only 27% of the 2 million tons of e-waste could be recycled. This leaves a significant amount of computer parts that could pollute the land and sea.
If most businesses move their data and processes to the cloud, small to large businesses can reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Altogether, this leaves a huge positive impact on the environment.
Green energy sources
Although many countries are shifting toward renewable sources of energy, 84% of the world still primarily use fossil fuels according to a 2019 study. People have used fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, it has caused large amounts of greenhouse gases and air pollution. These byproducts not only harm the environment but also pose health problems for people.
To reduce harmful emissions and impacts on the environment, renewable energy will be a key player. These energies include:
People should rapidly change into these energy sources before it’s too late.
Vertical farming promotes the idea of growing plants or produce in layers stacked vertically. It offers farmers and city dwellers sustainable farming in limited space. One of its greatest benefits is that it uses 90% less water because of its hydroponic growing process. As a result, it also needs fewer nutrients and fertilisers. Moreover, the used water can be recycled or reused since it’s clean. This further minimises waste and reduces the cost of farming.
Aside from this, it reduces the need for tractors or farming equipment, which likely use fossil fuels to run. As a result, it helps reduce harmful emissions that come from traditional farming methods. Moreover, it helps conserve biodiversity since there’s no need to convert acres of land for farming.
For city dwellers, vertical farming enables people living in apartments to grow their own produce indoors or on balconies. Having more plants in cities can help convert carbon emissions from vehicles into clean air. In fact, some biomimicry designs include vertical gardens into its design such as Singapores Gardens by the Bay.
Shift to a green future
While these green tech solutions help reduce waste and pollution, this is not enough. People also need to reduce plastic use and lessen their energy consumption from fossil fuels to reduce our environmental impact. Although green solutions are generally expensive, people should realise that these technologies are an investment in their own life and the future generations’. From recycling to using eco-friendly electric scooters, let’s do our part to save the environment.