If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I recently went on holiday. I flew over to sunny Spain for the last four days of August to celebrate my sister’s 16th birthday.
If you read my previous post you’ll know that I was going well prepared with lots of plastic free goodies. I’m talking shampoo bars, face soap, solid deodorant and sunscreen. But there’s still a few unsustainable habits that followed me round during my trip.
So in the name of transparency, I’m going to share them with you. Because we’re not all perfect all of the time.
We all know that flying is the least eco-friendly way to travel. I used an online calculator to see exactly how much CO2 was produced from my return trip. It came out at 0.21 tonnes. Something I’m currently looking into is carbon offsetting which is estimated to be around the £2-£13 mark.
I spoke about flight guilt in a recent Instagram post and a lot of people reached out via DM to talk about it. On a personal level, it’s neither affordable or accessible for me to travel via train or boat rather than by plane. Not to mention I have a real passion for exploring the world and experiencing other cultures.
So while I’m not rushing to declare myself officially “flight free”, I’m limiting myself to two flights per year. So that’s one return flight.
Yes, I know this might seem a bit hypocritical. While the tap water in Spain has been seemed safe to drink, I couldn’t stand the taste. It was so heavily chlorinated that it was like drinking pool water!
Not to mention the large amounts of walking we did during our time there. Not knowing any Spanish, I couldn’t go round asking for refills. So while on the go, I had to rely on bottled water. However I did take my Chilly’s bottle with me for on the train and at the airport.
It was recently brought to my attention that there are alternatives to this in the form of water purifiers. So I’ll definitely be looking into the products on offer from Water to Go and TAPP Water for future travels.
This ties in a little with my previous point, but I’m terrible for takeout food & drink while I’m travelling. It’s such an easy option, especially if there’s a language barrier. For us, it was simply a matter of personal taste.
My younger sister is somewhat of a picky eater, so fast food was the easiest way of finding her something to eat. It’s also one of the most affordable ways to eat while travelling [unfortunately].
One aspect of travelling I’m quite accustomed to doing is exploring the shops; new and old. Especially any little street markets I may stumble upon.
The problem is I don’t know the supply chain. So I’m assuming that the items I’m looking at are produced in an unsustainable manner. Did I buy a few things on holiday this August? Yes. Old habits die hard. Keep your eyes peeled towards the end of the year for a full 2019 fast fashion review. I’ll be running through every single fast fashion purchase I made this year, and why.
I’m only a few months into quitting fast fashion and I’m still unlearning old ways. But the best thing I can possibly do at this point is make sure that the items coming home with me are used to their full capacity.
I often get messages and emails asking for tips on how to be more sustainable. From the way I present myself on social media it may come across as though I’m the “gold standard” for eco-conscious and ethical living.
As this post illustrates, I’m simply a human being trying their best. Reflecting on my four worst habits, I know what I can do to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
First and foremost I’ll be educating myself more about carbon offsetting. While it’s proven not to be the most efficient way of reducing your carbon footprint, it’s all I can do while still wanting to travel. I’ll still be travelling via other transport methods such as busses and trains whenever I can afford to do so.
I’ll also look into water filters like I said above. They look incredibly efficient, especially TAPP Water as it clips onto the end of the tap! While it won’t eliminate the problems of a language barrier while out and about abroad, it’ll definitely save me from using a lot of plastic bottles.
As for shopping, it’s still a process I’m working through. Trying to unlearn a lifelong habit is no easy task! But the fact I’m recognising where I’ve gone wrong and actively aiming to avoid it in the future is a huge improvement in itself.
Remember; we don’t need one person being perfectly sustainable. We need several people doing sustainability imperfectly.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.