Air travel is one of the fastest-growing polluters, currently accounting for around two percent of global emissions. "Equinox Explore responds to this at the source with third-party verified carbon offsets [whereby money is donated to funds reducing greenhouse gas emissions] for our flights,” Howe explains. When you're traveling, consider purchasing carbon offsets and select direct flights instead of multiple legs to minimize the environmental impact.
Upon arrival at the destination, opt for “slow travel” (as opposed to fast travel like airplanes) by using boats or trains whenever possible. Rely on public transportation instead of cars for inner-city transit.
Attempt to stick to seasonal foods wherever you're traveling. Visit the local farmers’ markets to get a sense of what is fresh and not imported or do some prior research online ahead of time. “Consuming a little less red meat and dairy can significantly reduce our individual carbon footprints," adds Howe. "And, never order or buy more food than you really need.”
Prioritize independent, family-run restaurants to support the local economy, and always ask where the ingredients, especially seafood and other proteins, are sourced. This will also help you determine if it was procured sustainably.
Choose a hotel that commits to sustainability in ways such as eliminating single-use plastics and using biodegradable products. Generally, environmentally aware hotels will mention their initiatives on their websites, so consult before you book. “When selecting hotels [for Equinox Explore trips], we look for eco-friendly properties and those that have made a commitment to responsible tourism,” says Howe.
All Equinox Hotels will be LEED-certified as green buildings and avoid single-use plastic and paper in favor of higher quality, long-life materials. Sustainable design includes using natural products with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds that are harmful to health and the environment) such as Green Seal–certified paints, and wood flooring from renewable resources.
Pack for your trip with the intention of minimizing plastic use. “I bring my toiletries from home so I don’t need to use those tiny little plastic bottles,” says Howe. Bring a reusable water bottle. If you have a metal straw, add it to your list, and use cloth totes instead of plastic shopping bags, even when you're traveling. Above all, keep your luggage on the lighter side since less weight translates to fewer CO2 emissions from your flight.
Regardless of the activity, who you decide to partner with during your trip matters. For day trips, walking tours, or any other excursions, seek out responsible providers who employ locals and prioritize giving back to their community and environment.