How I Keep Sustainability in Mind While Traveling
I don't know what it is about travelling, but I always want to buy EVERYTHING. It has always been that way, and I'm not sure why! I remember going to Japan as a 15 year old and buying so many "knick-knacks" and clothing that my suitcase was literally bursting when it was time to leave. As I have gotten older though, I have chosen to invest in memories and photographs while traveling rather than items. A few years ago when we were in the Faroe Islands, Jason and I walked away with only 3 souvenirs between us - mittens for me, a toque for him, and a cute print for us to hang in our house. The mindset of buying less is an extension of my desire to live a more meaningful, intentional, and slow lifestyle. Even though I live my daily life this way, when it comes time to travel I always find it hard to avoid shopping trips while in a new country/place.
I have gathered my thoughts and created a little list on how I have been able to reduce my spending habits while traveling and maintain that sustainable lifestyle!
Firstly, lets talk about clothing! When traveling overseas, I am always overwhelmed with the different selection of clothing stores. For a while now, I have no longer been interested in the popular clothing stores in Canada (for the most part), so when I saw some of the different brands and stores that the UK had to offer I was definitely intrigued. For me personally, what draws me in is seeing stores which you have heard others talking about but have never been able to shop at. I found it fun to browse these new shops, but I knew in my heart that I did not want to carry out irresponsible and impulsive purchases just because these brands were new to me. I treated myself to one top from "Oliver Bonas" which has ethical trading practices and is also participating in several environmental efforts. In order to limit myself and direct my interests elsewhere, I focused on finding thrift stores and "charity shops" and spend my 'shopping time' browsing. Most of the clothing that I buy these days is either from small independent brands with ethical and sustainable practices, or from thrift/vintage stores (either online or in person). Integrating this while travelling was so fun! I loved browsing all of the vintage items - I saw so many interesting things!
Supporting local businesses and brands is something which I tend to practice at home and also while traveling. During my time in Scotland I intentionally chose to eat at local/independent restaurants and cafes. I also found it rather easy to seek out independent grocers and local "chemists" for items that you would typically look for at bigger department stores. By shopping local, I found that I was able to get a better grasp of the local community and people - both things which I cherish while traveling. One of the ways which Jason and I like to practice sustainable living at home, is to cook most of our meals from scratch - if we could grind our own flour we would. Growing our own food, sourcing local and responsible animal and plant products is so important to us! While travelling, it makes so much sense to maintain these practices! I was lucky to have a gorgeous kitchen at my disposal, as well as some lovely locally sourced food shops nearby.
Sustainable living can present itself in so many different ways. It's your household practices, your shopping habits, household waste management, and mode of transport. It's your plastic use, electricity consumption, and so many other things. "Sustainable living" itself is up for interpretation and can mean so many different things to different people. For me, it is as much my practices as it is my mindset. When I am at home in my routine, my approach to sustainable living is at the front of my mind. After being immersed into a different world for a few weeks though, I felt like I was worried about so many other things, it was hard to keep my sustainable and intentional mindset and practices a priority. Obviously I am not super strict about this, I'm totally ok with being lost in the moments of travel. Sometime it became overwhelming though, so I found it necessary to write somethings down - reminders of my routine and practices at home. I took more walks, read my book, and worked at coffee shops. I purposely integrated parts of my regular routine while traveling to help center myself as well as to bring moments of simplicity to what would typically be a busy travel schedule.
I suppose the easiest way for me to keep all of this in mind while I was traveling, was to remember my routine at home and reconnect with the choices that I would have been making if I was back in Canada. I chose to purchase items from brands and stores that I trusted, and had done research prior to shopping. I also took the time to do simple things which bring me joy, like reading, visiting coffee shops, and taking long walks. This allowed me to slow down and take time to relax - It's crazy how often holidays fly by without any time for relaxation! I love to utilize my time and see the sights and things like that, but I think that the best part of travel is just slowing down and taking time to experience a different corner of the world in your own time.
Thanks for reading,