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5 ways to be a sort-of eco traveller

Ok, so not all of us are going to build schools, dig wells or feed baby orang-utans when we go on holiday, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care! Here are five ways to travel lightly and make a (small) difference as you do…

Reuse your towels and soap

I really hate leaving used soap behind in hotels as I know they are very hard to properly dispose of, while so many diseases around the world could be eradicated by better sanitation. (Read my post on Where Hotel Soap Goes To Die about a company in American that collects hotel soap, washes it and distributes it). So, while it’s only a teeny drop in the ocean, I only use one soap and switch it between shower and basin as required.

I also try and use my towels for two showers (I mean how often do I change mine at home?!), although I know it’s SO nice to have a clean fluffy towel every time. What gets my goat is when hotels have a sign saying how they are looking after the environment by asking guests to hang towels if they wish to reuse them, then provide no towel rail!

Hotel soap

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Turn off your lights and air con

Conserving power not only helps the hotel’s own bills, but it creates less strain on the supply in general, especially important in countries where infrastructure might not be so robust. And let’s be honest you don’t really need to have your room chilled down to 18 degrees while you’re lying by the pool or out kayaking all day! Pull out your keycard from the door and shut off the power when

Drink tap water

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you leave, then crank it up upon your return.

Drink the tap water

I do love a hotel that delivers water bottles to your bedside each night. But as long as the local water is fit for drinking, use a glass as often as you can and save the mountains of plastic from ending up in a landfill or having to be shipped somewhere else for recycling.


Buy goods from the locals

When I stayed at the Outrigger Resort on Fiji’s Coral Coast I loved that the local women were allowed to come in and set up a sulu cloth on the ground and sell little trinkets.I bought a $15 ring and hope it makes a small difference. In Vanuatu I bought casava chips and fresh peanuts from the ladies at the produce market. If you meet local men and women running their small businesses, be it massages or selling homemade food, think about the difference your few dollars can make.

(Read my post about helping paint a new school building with Outrigger Resort in Fiji >>)


These chips were $1. Yum!

Take gifts for the kids

If you’re holidaying in the Pacific Islands or going to be visiting villages in Asia, try and visit a local school and take things like pens, colouring pencils, sharpies, books, balls, hair ties and skipping ropes. It’s so cool to see their faces and watch them jumping up and down in anticipation of the small tokens we can give them.

Books for kids

How happy were these kids?!

If you DO want to make more a difference on holiday, check out my friend Chris Hill’s amazing company Hands Up Holidays where you combine luxury family trips with real gritty hands’ on helping in the countries you visit.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!