Top tips for Kiwis wanting to limit harm to the environment while on holiday

Source: 1News

In the second of a 1 NEWS series on being a more sustainable consumer, Jenny Suo looks at how Kiwis are going about reducing their environmental impact while on holiday.

As temperatures in New Zealand drop, Kiwis are looking to go overseas to get some warmer weather.

But all the flying, hotels and activities abroad have significant environmental impacts.

Victoria Courtney from the Flight Centre says, "Kiwis this time of year really like to go anywhere that's warm. The traditional destinations is the South Pacific, Fiji, Australia and also this is the time of year Kiwis are travelling to Europe."

Deciding to go overseas is not only costing you but the environment too.

Dr Christian Schott from Victoria University says, "The latest research estimates that 8 per cent of all carbon emissions come from tourism related services or activities."

He says that number is increasing year on year. New Zealanders live at the bottom of the world, meaning Kiwis have further to travel, leaving behind a significant carbon footprint.

A return flight to London produces on average almost 3000 kilograms of carbon emissions per passenger.

That's like driving almost 15,000 kilometres in a medium sized car - or the length of New Zealand seven and a half times.

Return to Los Angeles is like driving the length of our country 4.3 times. Phuket, 3.8 times and Hawaii 2.9 times.

Even visiting Brisbane or Fiji produces the same emissions as driving from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Dr Jeff Seadon from AUT says, "There are ways we can offset these things.  We can do that through buying carbon credits.  These credits are used to plant new trees so that the trees can absorb the carbon we've emitted through our travels."

Some airlines give customers this options, but many don't even know this option exists.

The environmental impact of holidaying doesn't stop at the airport.

Many of New Zealand hotels are green, Dr Seadon says.

"In New Zealand, most of our energy is derived from renewable resources so that doesn't produce anywhere close to the carbon emissions of somewhere that's using fossil fuels."

However a night in a Qatar hotel emits more than 140kg of CO2, that's more than eleven times that of a night here.

Staying in Indonesia is the same as spending ten nights here. In the US and UK it's two times worse than here and Australia and Thailand are more than five times worse.

Dr Seadon says, "Qatar is right in the desert.  It's hot, they need to reduce their temperatures through air conditioning and they get their power from oil."

Although they come with an environmental cost holidays are important.  They deliver huge benefits to local economies and to our own wellbeing.

But experts are urging travellers to be smarter.

Dr Schott says: "A lot of people feel that a holiday is a holiday. It's a break from all the things we try to do as good citizens. Whether we are a lot more relaxed about the water we use on holiday than we would at home, if we leave the air con on and how to deal with waste."

He says that culture needs to shift.

His advice:

- In less developed places, like the Pacific Islands which struggles processing waste, live and eat like a local

- Take a keep cup and avoid plastics

- Choose hotels with commitments to sustainability or stay with a friend

- When flying, choose airlines with modern aircraft

- Offset your carbon emissions, in some cases it's just a couple of dollars

These changes mean more preparation and money, but will lead to a healthier planet.

Also from the 1 NEWS sustainable consumer series:

New Zealand tourism operators stepping up to help the environment

Plant based milk 'a better choice' than cow's milk if you're concerned about the environment

Auckland Zoo ditches throwaway coffee cups for the sake of the environment