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How to be an eco-friendly traveler?


At a time of debate on the energy transition and the impact of our consumption patterns on the environment, we, travel enthusiasts, cannot ignore the need to consider a a more environmentally friendly way to travel.
Talking about the impact of the tourism industry means questioning the impact of our carbon footprint when we go on holiday: by car, by plane, by boat... but travelling differently is still possible.
When eco-responsible travel...means equals minimalism and economy!

I) The choice of the transport

The question that comes up when organising your trip, after having chosen your destination... is "how to get there?"
When you live in France and you want to stay there for your holidays or go to a country in Europe (bordering and/or with land borders), you think of the car, the bus or the train.
However, when you decide to go to the islands or to another continent, the default transport is still the plane.
Which eco-friendly mode of transport for which type of trip?
  • By car sharing
The car is not a very ecological mode of transport in itself, but when we optimise our trips and allow other passengers to travel with us to the same destination, the ecological dimension of our car journey can be highlighted.
For example, it is always better to have 5 passengers in one car, rather than 5 cars with only 1 passenger in each and. To make matters worse, all going to the same place or at least in the same direction.
  • By train
Travelling by train is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, in the order of 50 times less CO2 than a car and 80 times less than by plane. The main disadvantage is the price; one of the tips for getting a preferential tariff is to book your journey several months in advance.
  • By bus
More economical than the train, travelling by bus is a great alternative.
This mode of public transport has a relatively low carbon footprint of around 0.182kg CO2e/ passenger.km.
Another advantage of this mode of transport is that we take the time to discover the surrounding countryside and pass through little-known towns and villages.
  • By bike or walk
In your daily life, whether you go shopping at the local grocery shop or to the baker's to buy your bread, whether you walk or cycle, these modes of transport are of course preferable.
Moreover, they allow us to be physically active and to think ecologically!
However, when it comes to going on holiday to the other side of France and travelling 300km, things get a little more complicated; yet these modes of travel can be considered, when combined with the other transports mentioned above.
There is nothing to stop you from doing part of your journey by train, bus or car sharing (for longer distances) and walking to the neighbouring village you have decided to visit during your trip and where you will stop for a few days.
Of course, your bag should not weigh too much (here is an article that will help you to have only a 7kg backpack).
There are now many comparators of different transportations on the internet, which allow you to evaluate your carbon footprint according to the mode of transport chosen and the distance to be covered.
So YES! Being an eco-responsible traveller means choosing ecological and more environmentally friendly modes of transport... but that's not all...

II) Being an 2.0 eco-friendly traveler

75,000 tons... that's the amount of waste produced each year in France and only in our bathrooms, with the packaging of cosmetic and hygiene products (source IPSOS).
Tip No. 1/ Opt for a zero waste toiletry bag
When you're a woman, preparing your suitcase or travel bag can quickly become a real headache, for the choice of clothes and even more so when it comes to preparing your toiletry kit (none of you will contradict me, I think) between: make-up remover, day cream, night cream, moisturising body lotion, cotton wool, shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, shower gel.... and the list goes on!
In an eco-responsible (and minimalist!) approach, a travel toiletry kit can be summed up in a few essentials:
  • Menstrual panties or washable sanitary towels: choose your favorite! 
Being a woman, and a traveller, also means anticipating the arrival of your period during your trip. Today we have different alternatives to disposable tampons and sanitary towels.
Used a lot in our grandmothers' time because they were the only menstrual protection available, washable sanitary towels are making a comeback (in an improved and more comfortable version than the ones of yesteryear).
Of the same type (washable protection) we have the menstrual panties which are a good compromise. Discreet and for some very aesthetic (with lace details please).
In the course of her life, a woman uses about 10,000 sanitary protections (tampons or disposable pads), which represents a significant part of our waste!
  • (Washable) fabric make-up removal pads
For those who wear make-up even when travelling, investing in or making your own washable make-up removal pads is a must.
These small cloth make-up removal discs or squares can be used with water only (the material used allows for make-up removal with water only) or with an oil or make-up removal lotion.
  • Reusable cotton buds
It should be noted that since 1 January 2020 the marketing of cotton buds with plastic shafts (wadded sticks for domestic use) is prohibited. Therefore, the use of reusable devices has become essential!
Here is the reusable cotton bud, very easy to use and similar to our disposable cotton buds. They are made of polypropylene, washable with water and therefore reusable!
This is not the only alternative available, we have a wide range of alternatives to the traditional cotton bud: the ear pear, the oriculi, the stainless steel ear pick or the silicone ear stick.
All you have to do is choose the one that suits you best!
  • Body soap 
Body soaps are not revolutionizing the world of hygiene products, but they have proven their effectiveness: cleaning!
Numerous handmade soaps, with various properties (moisturising soap with donkey milk) and with scents that are more delicious than the others, are often sold without packaging and sometimes even by the slice in certain specialist shops.
In addition to beingecological because they have a very basic composition (a base and a fatty substance) and therefore without controversial products that are harmful to health, they are also economical!
  • Solid shampoo
On the same principle as body soaps, solid shampoos have the merit of fulfilling their primary function... washing hair!
They are therefore available for all hair types and with different properties and scents. The packaging is often made of paper, cardboard and there are even some without packaging.
  • The bamboo toothbrush: the invention of the century!
They have the advantage of being compostable or even burnt (firewood to light the fireplace in winter, what a good idea!).
They are very easy to find nowadays and at very affordable prices.
NB: the lifespan of a toothbrush is about 3 months whatever they are (bamboo, plastic...), it is therefore recommended to change them 4 times a year to ensure a quality brushing (to the delight of your dentist!)
  • homemade toothpaste and deodorant
These 2 hygiene products are very difficult to find in bulk or without packaging; the solution is to make them yourself!
This may seem tedious at first, but it is not. Double advantage, in addition to being ecological... they are economical!
In a future article, we will share with you some recipes for simple, effective and quick homemade hygiene products... to be an "ecologically responsible" traveller!

Tip No. 2/ Embrace natural cosmetics 
  • Coconut oil: multiple uses
Unless you live on an island and buy coconut oil directly from your neighbour (as is it the case in Madagascar), you can find it very easily in shops.
Favour a coconut oil, first cold pressed (which will have kept all its properties contrary to a heated oil)
It can be used in the kitchen for your dishes... but also in your bathroom: as a make-up remover, as an oil bath for your hair (to be used before your shampoo and on dry hair), as a body oil (to moisturize your skin) and it will leave a sweet exotic smell on your skin!
In summer or if you are travelling to a destination where sun and tanning are on the agenda, coconut oil can be used as a tanning oil (a little island secret).
BEWARE: the oil is pure and contains no sun protection, so beware of sunburn! Avoid applying it on your face and don't put too much on the rest of your body.
I advise you to buy it in the food section as it is often cheaper than the one sold in the cosmetics section and of identical quality.
In addition, choose a glass container. It will keep much better and the bottle can always be recycled!
  • Coffee grounds for a caffeinated scrub!
Don't throw away your coffee grounds!
90% of French people consume coffee every day, which represents more than 300,000 tons per year... Can you imagine the amount of scrub that this represents?
Coffee lovers will be delighted to find this delicious smell in the shower!
Coffee grounds are a concentrate of antioxidants, minerals, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It has stimulating properties and improves blood microcirculation. This makes it an excellent ally.
Here is a simple scrub (to be done once a week) to be used for the body and even the face: 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds + 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or any other vegetable oil), mix well and brush your body with the preparation while rubbing lightly (rub in circles).
For the face, be careful not to rub too vigorously.
The little extra of this scrub... it leaves you with a slightly tanned complexion!
Only 20% of our plastic waste is collected to be recycled, so it is advisable to look for more ecological alternatives, especially when travelling.
Tip No. 3/ The essentials: the reusable water bottle and the moka
In France, we are lucky enough to have good quality drinking water at our taps, so why deprive ourselves?
It is advisable to invest in a reusable water bottle (choose a metal one rather than a plastic one), which will cost a certain amount of money at the time of purchase, but it will pay for itself very quickly and it is an essential alternative to plastic bottles!
Also, some water bottles can hold water as well as other drinks, whether cold (a fresh homemade juice) or hot (tea or a nice hot chocolate in winter), so if you travel to a country where the tap water is not drinkable, you can always use it to carry your favourite drink!
I discovered the moka during my trip to Malta (a country very much steeped in Italian culture) and since then it's "NEVER without my moka!" and I take it everywhere with me.
For those of you who don't know, it's a small metal coffee pot that you put directly on the stove, with just water in the lower compartment and ground coffee in the upper compartment... a few minutes and it's done!
In addition to enjoying a coffee full of aroma and flavour, you won't be adding unnecessary waste to your rubbish bin (as is the case with coffee pods or capsules).
Tip No. 4/ Buy products that are slightly repackaged or in bulk
In tip No. 3 we talked about the moka (a small container, generally made of metal, used by Italians to make coffee), the use of this utensil goes hand in hand with the purchase of ground coffee.
Ground coffee, often sold in a single package, is more economical and ecological than buying coffee pods or capsules that overflow our bins!
In some specialist shops, you can even find it in bulk.
As we saw in tips 2 and 3, after your delicious morning coffee you can go straight to the bathroom for your weekly revitalizing coffee grounds scrub!
This is just one example among many.
It should be noted that buying products that are not very well packaged or in bulk remains "THE" solution to be favoured in order to reduce our waste, which is essentially made up of packaging.
In addition to allowing you to travel light, Mother Nature will thank you for all these initiatives... and your bank account too!
Isn't the life of an eco-responsible traveler beautiful?
Travelling YES... but not at the expense of Mother Nature!
The La Voyageuse team has put together a super challenge to reveal the eco-responsible traveler in you! All the information in this article.


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Whether you are an avid traveller or a first-time adventurer, all NomadSister editors are passionate about travel. They share their advice and experiences with the desire to give you wings!

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