Do you make sure to reuse towels or plastic water bottles? Flick off switches and pull out chargers when leaving your room for the day? Take shorter showers? Or make a point to stay somewhere that works towards responsible and sustainable business?

We all know that travel is one of those experiences that you pay for, yet feel richer for after.  It’s a little cliché, but it’s also very true.  I’ve come back from trips spanning from 6 weeks to 6 months and have always felt a positive change from within me.  But that change has always felt more valuable to my growth when it has come from giving back to the communities I visited in some way or another, as well as the planet as a whole.

I always love running into those signs at tourist spots that say something along the lines of, ‘take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints’.  I’ll usually always grab a quick snap of it too.  The fact that sharing this sentiment with our social circles is a cool thing to do these days is wonderful and admirable in itself, but there comes a moment when I have forced myself to think : what are others doing about this?  And more importantly, what more can I do?

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I’ll always walk or use public transport to get around when I’m travelling (partly because it’s free or cheap and partly because it’s environmentally sustainable).  But if I needed to rent a car to get somewhere I really wanted to see, would I rent whatever’s cheapest, or opt to pay a tiny bit more for something electric or hybrid?

It goes further than this.  What about when I want to eat or just buy a cheap souvenir to bring back home?  Up until recently, these are things I wouldn’t spend much time thinking about.  But it’s amazing what such small actions can bring or take away from the environment or economy and how important a change of mind can be.

Instead of heading to the nearest fast food joint for a cheap burger or kebab, why not head to the local market and get your hands on some locally produced fresh food?  Or pop your head in the door of a locally run family restaurant?  Not only will these likely be far more interesting and wholesome experiences, you’ll be giving local establishments business and strengthening their economy.  You’ll also be one less person contributing to the demand of McDonald’s ingredients and the shipping of them across the world (thus causing less pollution and its effect on global warming!).

Instead of buying a tacky plastic souvenir that’s been mass produced, why not head to the local artisan’s market and explore the stalls brimming with traditional handicrafts made right in front of you?  You’ll be able to learn about the artisan’s trades and support them, which in turn will help keep this part of their culture alive and contribute to their economy.  The souvenir will also be 100% WAY cooler, thoughtful and meaningful.  It’s a win-win!

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Opting to stay with an accommodation business that is sensitive to its impacts on the environment is also important.  This is where HI-Canada comes in, and we’re asking for your help.

Two of our very own hostel managers have been working on something incredible for our community.  Using recycled chest freezers that were destined for landfill, they have developed the ‘hybrid refrigerator’, which harnesses the cold Canadian winter air to refrigerate food for guests.  This will reduce carbon emissions by 31 metric tonnes per winter!  Pretty cool and innovative, right?

Well, this is where we need your voice of change.

Every vote counts to ensure this project gets off the ground and wins funding from the HI Sustainability Fund.  Grab your Mom, Sister, Uncle, adopted pet rock and get them all to cast a quick vote for us below.  You can even vote on multiple devices.

Go on, give a fridge some love for us and help keep our hostels environmentally sustainable.  Every positive change you can make is worth it.

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