You may pride yourself on living sustainably at home, but what happens when you leave your comfort zone and venture into the unknown? When drinking tap water is no longer a viable option, and Whole Foods isn’t around the corner, how can you maintain a sustainable lifestyle while living abroad?

It’s no secret that human activity is incrementally changing the Earth’s climate. The harsh reality of climate change has been a growing issue in the news and, at times, it can be an overwhelming concept to process. It’s important to stay as carbon neutral as possible, and to respect the environment wherever you go; whether you’re inCanada or thousands of miles away, the general rule of thumb is to treat our planet with kindness.

Over this past summer, I had the opportunity of traveling to Indonesia. While it was beautiful, the experience was also sort of terrifying. After seeing the effects that pollution has on nature first hand, I came home feeling a little despaired, yet motivated to make some changes in my daily routine.

In Indonesia, plastic is everywhere. From single use plastic bottles, to packaging for produce, they are constantly putting forth the most cost effective, and therefore the least environmentally friendly solution to everyday issues.

To put things into perspective, China is the world’s leading plastic polluter, with its total mismanaged plastics weighing in at 8.8 million metric tonnes annually. Indonesia is second to China in total plastic pollution, but produces double the amount per capita. This means that in China, the annual waste per person is 13 pounds, and though Indonesia is a geographically smaller country, its citizens produce double that amount per capita.

Regardless of where you’re traveling, there are steps you can adopt that will keep you safe and healthy, help save the environment and won’t even break the bank! You can be a responsible traveler by understanding the impacts travel can have, both on the physical and cultural environments you visit.

These steps aren’t a complete guide; being an entirely green traveler means considering the potential damage that arises from tourism. The following steps work to reduce that risk; they include alternative modes of transportation, staying in green hotels, and donating to local conservation programs. Small steps do make a big difference, and these are a few things you can do to help:

Tip #1

Problem: You’ll get sick if you drink the water at your destination, and plastic bottles make the planet sad

Solution: Water purification tablets and life straws are your new best friend

Tip: Brush your teeth with filtered water to avoid the risk of getting Bali belly! (or Fiji flu, or Thailand tummy troubles, etc.)

Tip #2

Problem: Plastic packaging, products, and bags, oh my!

Solution: Bring a reusable tote and produce bags with you

Tip: Don’t buy the pre-packaged fruit, it usually isn’t fresh anyways

Tip #3

Problem: Tons of tour companies don’t care about conservation

Solution: Research companies that practice ecotourism

Tip: If they belong to The InternationalEcotourism Society, they’re cool in my book

Tip #4

Problem: The beach is polluted and is not cute enough for Instagram pictures

Solution: Bring an empty garbage bag and pick up garbage when you see it

Tip: When in a tropical place, watch out for monkeys. They’re everywhere, they love garbage, and they aren’t afraid of you or anything else.

Here are a few photos from my trip to Indonesia. I hope you all have the opportunity to implement at least one of these tips into your adventures and daily life. Safe Travels!

 Rebecca Erlich is a Guest Contributor for MUSE Online. 

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