Eco-tourism and ethical tourism aren’t just hype — it’s a duty we, travel lovers, should all swear by. Sustainable travel is all about protecting, respecting, and preserving the places you visit. It can be as simple as picking up your litter and not collecting seashells to preserve the environment. It can also come in the form of supporting independent businesses to sustain the town’s traditions, culture, and customs.
Wherever we go, sustainable travel should be the foundation of our travel choices to reduce the impact we have on places we love to visit. And if you’re looking for a destination where traveling sustainably is not rocket science, Ireland is a good place to start.
The Emerald Isle is home to a plethora of natural attractions, including cliffs, coastlines, hills, mountains, and green pastures. It’s one of the best places to explore the outdoors and get in touch with nature without disturbing the flora and fauna. The island is also teeming with local producers, gifted craftspeople, and eco-friendly travel providers, like hotels and tours, that you’d love to patronize.
Ready to travel sustainably in Ireland? We’ve come up with a few guidelines on how to enjoy your Irish trip while lessening your impact.
1. Leave no trace in Ireland
Enjoy the beauty of Ireland while limiting your impact. The rule of thumb is to carry the things that came with you and leave what you find:
- Dispose of waste properly
- Don’t pollute the water with trash
- Minimise single-use plastics and travel with reusables (tumbler, a metal straw, water bottles, bags, and toiletries)
- Don’t collect natural resources as souvenirs (seashells, rocks, etc)
- Enjoy your outdoor travel without disturbing the wildlife and farm animals
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces to avoid ruining the vegetation
2. Opt for low-impact transportation
It’s impossible to travel without increasing your carbon footprint, as the use of planes, ferries, and cars all lead to carbon emissions. You can’t bike your way around Ireland, right? However, there are tips for reducing your impact while using transportation:
- Take direct flights
- Opt for economy options
- Travel during off-peak times
- Limit your yearly air mileage overall
- Travel slowly, whenever possible. Take the trains, trams, and buses to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum
- If your target destination is near, see if you can simply walk or ride a bike.
3. Look for eco-friendly accommodation to lodge in
An eco-friendly accommodation is built and/or operated in a way that minimizes the carbon footprint and waste of natural resources. They usually have energy and water-saving systems, renewable energy sources, zero-waste policies, sustainable and locally sourced products, and non-toxic cleaning items.
Luckily, Ireland has a great number of environmentally-friendly accommodation options, from eco-hotels to charming BnBs and cabins set in a nature-friendly estate.
4. Patronise environmentally-conscious businesses
Not sure whether or not the brand you’re supporting is truly an eco-friendly one or just hopping onto the “go green” trend for profits? See if they’re certified for committing to sustainable practices and standards.
Businesses across Ireland are being recognized by organizations and initiatives including Sustainable Travel Ireland, Green Hospitality, Origin Green, Leave No Trace Ireland and Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).
For instance, Kilkenny was recognized by the IBAL as Ireland’s cleanest town, and hotels in Kilkenny are committed to upholding the standard in responsible litter disposal and general cleanliness of its property.
5. Visit a national park
The term “park” in Ireland doesn’t only refer to green spaces in the middle of the city with benches, ponds, flowers, and monuments. It can mean vast areas bursting with wildlife, craggy hills and valleys, pristine lakes and waterfalls, and countless beautiful things to see and do.
When in Ireland, visit a national park. Some of the best include Killarney National Park, Burren National Park, Wicklow Mountains National Park, and Glenveagh National Park.
6. Enjoy sustainable, low-impact activities
Discover Ireland’s breathtaking beauty while protecting and respecting the island, its people, and its culture. Check out these amazing sustainable adventures you can experience in Ireland.
- Sightseeing galore
- Camping and having a picnic
- Hiking and rock climbing
- Coastal walking
- Water activities like kayaking, swimming, and surfing
- Watching whales, seals, dolphins, and other wildlife in their natural habitat
- Supporting “Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release” animal sanctuaries
- Taking a trip to a sheep farm
- Having a culture trip: food tours, museum and gallery trips, guided tours to heritage sites, listening to traditional music and nightlife, and patronizing local crafts and food.
7. Immerse yourself in the local heritage
Sustainable travel isn’t all about preserving the environment. It also means paying homage to the people and culture of the places you visit, so you can ensure its survival for many years to come.
Find out as much as possible about Irish history, culture, legends, and traditions. With this, you can fully immerse yourself in the local heritage and understand its significance. Support cultural attractions too, including museums, galleries, and walking tours.
8. Give back to the local community
Skip imported goods and global brands you can easily find in your home country. Instead, support local businesses, restaurants, and farmers’ markets. Eat local. Drink local. Shop local. Live like a local.
Another fun way to travel sustainably is to combine sightseeing with tasty treats. You can take a food tour held by a local guide, and sample fresh produce, farmhouse cheeses, artisan meat products, craft beer, and traditional Irish food.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a travel-savvy blogger, foodie, and musician. When she’s not cooking or playing the piano, you can find her writing articles about travel and lifestyle. She is also a passionate writer for Pembroke Hotel Kilkenny, a four-star boutique hotel in Kilkenny, Ireland.