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Plenty of YHA hostels already have water-saving taps, showerheads, and toilet flushes (use the half-flush when you can!) but you can also do your bit by taking shorter showers, turning off the tap while shaving and brushing your teeth, washing your clothes sparingly, and using a plug when you wash the dishes. In a country as dry as Australia, saving water is a must – and many YHA hostels, like Grampians Eco YHA (below), gather water in rainwater tanks.
Take-off and landing are the parts of a flight that billow out the most emissions, so if you’re jumping in a plane, make your journey direct. Even better, catch the train or grab the Greyhound instead – it’s much gentler on the planet and a relaxing way to take in the country – or use the backpacker’s social media app Travello to find new friends and go on a road trip.
Every time you book a stay on our website, you have the choice to donate a dollar to the Fund – and YHA matches your contribution dollar for dollar. The money goes towards making YHA’s network of hostels a little greener, installing solar electricity and hot water systems around the country – such as these solar panels at Perth City YHA.
Buying local produce reduces the amount of emissions needed to transport your food from the farm to your shopping basket – plus, the fruit and veg is fresher and more delicious. Choosing items with less packaging (like from a farmers market) and remembering re-usable shopping bags also helps. Oh, and you can forget buying disposable plastic bottles – many YHA hostels have water fountains with filtered water for free.
Simple and effective – like your dad always told you growing up, turn off the lights when you leave the room! And we get it, Australia’s a hot place, but don’t flick on the air-con when an open window will do – AC guzzles electricity.
If your hostel is throwing an enviro-event, take part! There’s Earth Hour and Clean Up Australia Day in March, as well as the initiatives that individual hostels set up – keep an eye out for the zero-landfill activities many YHAs are organising to mark the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017.
Many YHA hostels offer bike hire and cycling around the city you’re visiting is as good for you as it is for the environment – as it walking. Failing that, catch public transport – the bus or train is gentler on your wallet as well as the planet than a taxi or car rental.
The meat industry produces huge amounts of CO2 and methane, ravages natural waterways to supply the water needed to sustain it, and often treats the animals poorly. It’s just kinder on the world to go vegetarian, especially when you’re travelling.
You’ll find a swap and share table at most YHA hostels, where you can leave behind unwanted clothes and other items you no longer need so someone else can use them – an absolute treasure trove on a backpacker’s budget! And take advantage of the swap and share shelves in hostel kitchens, which also help reduce waste.
Do some research before you arrive – what are the activities, like bushwalking or snorkelling, which will leave a light footprint on the environment? What are the sustainability issues facing the local community you’re visiting? How do you think you can be more green?
With more than $1 million worth of sustainability features, Sydney Harbour YHA is one of our greenest hostels – so check out their video for 10 more great ways to green-up your next getaway.