As society feels the increasingly severe and widening effects of the global climate crisis, more and more people are deciding to be more environmentally conscious about their choices. One industry that's notorious for being a top producer of carbon emissions is the travel industry. In fact, air travel is responsible for roughly 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, add to that emission produced by passenger cars. If you're a frequent flier or is planning to take a trip out of town soon, here are five ways on how to be earth-conscious:

Use Public Transportation

When you travel to a new city or country, use the public transportation network to get around. The bus or train can get you to places you want to visit as fast as a car, but not as expensive as renting one. According to a study, a passenger vehicle carrying a single passenger emits close to 90 lbs of CO2 per 100 miles driven. Meanwhile, a full bus running the same mileage only emits 14 lbs. If you need another reason to ride the public transit, doing so also gives you a chance to connect with the locals and get a taste of the culture. If you can walk or bike to your destination, even better.

Reduce Consumption

Traveling puts you in a more relaxed and loose state of mind. You are at a higher risk of spending money in impractical ways, be it buying an overpriced souvenir or ordering room service in your hotel. This mindset of consuming goods and services aimlessly not only hurts your bank account but the environment as well. Every purchase you decide to make has an outward ripple effect. The demand fuels more manufacturing and delivery of products, which use huge amounts of raw materials and resources. By reducing your own personal consumption during travel, you help cut off this demand and the pillaging of natural resources connected with it.

Support the Local Community

Whatever goods or services you need while traveling, buy it locally. Goods sourced locally mean minimal transportation costs, which mean lower carbon emissions. It's also a good way to support the community you're visiting and meet locals. Aside from buying local, try to support local projects as well. Search the city's official website to find activities that are helping the environment recover, such as beach clean-ups and marathons.

Avoid Plastic Like the Plague

There are roughly 14 billion lbs of waste being dumped into the ocean each year, a majority of which is plastic that won't decompose for the next hundred years. This plastic pollution ends up leeching toxins into the ocean, killing marine life and irreversibly damaging marine ecosystems. Plastic that is not thrown into the ocean gets sent to massive landfills where they get burnt, in which case the chemicals go into the ozone layer, effectively damaging it. When traveling, avoid buying any items made of or wrapped in plastic. Practice responsible disposal of waste produced while traveling, with plastics being disposed of in the "recyclables" bin.

Pack Light

Not only is it a matter of convenience and safety, but packing light also produces lower CO2 emissions. Every pound of luggage and human weight also increases gas burnt by aircrafts. Whether you're glamping in New Hampshire or cruising through the Bahamas, you'll be able to move lighter and safer if you have fewer things with you. Packing light also means you can avoid any baggage fees. Only pack essentials, such as clothing, personal hygiene products, and important documents. In addition to packing light, you should also pack smart. Rather than use plastic zip bags to secure valuables, use recyclable boxes to store items. To save up on luggage space, roll articles of clothing.

Final Thoughts

Being conscious of how you travel is key to preserving the earth's natural ecosystems and habitats and helps ensure that the environment can be enjoyed by future generations. Aside from these five tips, there are a lot of ways you can affect positive change as a traveler. Avoiding zoos and circuses that exploit wildlife, for instance, is a simple yet powerful step you can do as a traveling advocate of the environment; another would be to educate other fellow travelers of how their choices affect the earth.

Author's Bio: 

Katie earned a BA in English from WWU and loves to write. She also adores hiking in redwood forests and photography. She feels happiest around a campfire surrounded by friends and family.