oh how times flies! It’s been over a month since my last post, and in that time I have passed through 6 countries, climbed 4 mountains, and eaten more varieties of tofu and tempe than one vegan can dream of in a lifetime.
But what have I learnt on my travels so far? And more importantly, how has it helped me on my path to sustainable living?
To give you the quickest snapshot of my round the world trip so far, and ease myself back into writing (my typing skills are rusty after months lying on the beach…) here are the 10 top things travelling teaches you about green living:
10 things travelling teaches you about green living
1. Everyone cares about it
Whether I was trekking through the Himalayas in Nepal, swimming off a beach in Sri Lanka or enjoying a jungle walk in Thailand; I was surrounded by signs that sustainability was at the forefront of peoples minds. Recycling bins, posters on the benefits of going Organic and even initiatives for lowering car pollution in rural mountains areas popped up wherever I went. Its comforting to know that communities and governments around the world recognise that things like climate change and pollution are global issues, and everyone needs to do their part to help.
2. Plastic is going extinct
If there is one thing every country agrees on it’s that plastic water bottles have to go! Though facilities vary from a refillable water tank for 10 rupees a bottle, to high tech costal path water fountains with chilled, filtered water, its clear that wherever you go in the world you can avoid buying single use bottles.
3. Land fill waste is a huge issue
Wander the streets of India or Nepal and you’d be mistaken for thinking that waste disposal is far bigger issue there than back home. The unfortunate fact is, it is a huge issues globally; we just have the infrastructure back home to hide it better! It doesn’t really matter if our waste is scattered on the side of the road, or hidden in a hole in the ground, we need to stop creating it to begin with. Our planet is simply running out of space!
4. We can be inventive with our resources
I absolutely loved that street food wrapping and shopping bags in India were made from old newspapers, and that reclamation yards in Indonesia were the place to go for so many household items. I think the West could learn a thing or to about making use of everything we have. It doesn’t really have anything to do with poverty or limited resources available, it’s simply about living smart!
5. Convenience has killed our taste buds
My time in India and South East Asia was a tasty lesson in local, seasonal food. The abundance of fresh local produce was overwhelming and, unlike back home, it was cheaper to eat local healthy cuisine than fast food chains and ready meals. The lack of convenience food actually enriches the foodie experience in other cultures, and lends itself to a much more natural way of eating.
6. There’s so much more to life than buying stuff
Living with one small backpack of very few possessions, you learn very quickly than you need 10% of what you own to survive. In fact, when you get used to wearing the same 5 outfits and using a bar of soap for absolutely everything, you actually feel rather liberated! The first thing I noticed when I touched down in Sydney was the huge compulsion to go out and buy things. Billboards everywhere and a discreet social pressure to dress well and look good. I’m going to try as hard as I can to stick to my tiny backpack here, and remind myself that living minimally can be achieved wherever you live (with a bit of planning…!)
7. Community is key for future sustainability
I was incredibly inspired by the strong sense of community I found whilst travelling through Asia. Whether linked through faith or family, everyone worked together as a unit to support one another and really make the most of what they had. Though I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in one house with 10 of my family members (I love you guys, but no thanks!) this collaborative and inclusive way of living may well be the way we can continue to thrive and survive in an uncertain future.
8. Walking in underrated
When you need to get from one side of the city to another, the obvious choice is public transport. It’s affordable, convenient and far more eco than hopping in your own car. But there is one thing we often forget to use when travelling from A to B: Our legs! Travelling on a tight budget, and seeking to get a locals perspective of a destination, I rediscovered my walking legs and realised they are by far the greenest and healthiest way of getting around. One thing to note though: build in time for this activity as I did overestimate my walking speed!
9. We share the Earth with some incredible species
Never before have I been so exposed to such an amazing variety of animals that share this beautiful planet with us. From weird jumping spiders and neon coral fish, to huge sleepy lizards and wild Himalayan wolves. Travelling reminds us just how delicate our biodiversity is, and just how many habitats we risk destroying if we aren’t aware of the animals and plants we share it with.
10. Sometimes we have to go backward to go forwards
I would be the first to admit that my green journey around the world hasn’t been without its hiccups. I have bought plastic water bottles when travelling through India, I’ve eaten non vegan food when I was bored of eating my one option in Sri Lanka, and I’ve taken countless flights which would have stacked up a fair share of carbon.
But as I always say, green living is about being a saint, it’s about being conscious, caring and doing your best whenever you can. And in fact, it’s those lazy moments of getting wrong which continuously inspire me to get it right going forward!