1. A Mantra to live by: "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."
Well, you can take other people's rubbish.. that's always ok.
Have you ever found yourself in a popular tourist attraction area, anticipating nothing but a beautiful view, only to find it littered with rubbish? Yeah. Don't be that guy. Rubbish ruins nature for everyone, and it's incredibly harmful to the environment. If you can't see a bin around you anywhere, take your rubbish with you and dispose of it later. It's not that complicated.
2. Catch local public transport instead of flying.
Air travel and its effect on the environment is a rather complex issue, but the bottom line is that flying, especially in empty planes, is speeding up the effects of climate change. With the rise of regulated low-budget air travel the issue is only getting worse. If you can get somewhere by catching a bus or train, even if it takes you a little longer to arrive at your destination, mother nature will thank you. Not only that, but choosing local transport will also save you a butt-ton of cash!
3. On that note, do NOT travel on a cruise ship!
When comparing carbon emissions they are twice as bad as taking a long flight. Cruise companies are notorious for keeping their profits in-house and not contributing anything to the economy, and waste management is beyond a joke. If you love the ocean, then do NOT take a cruise ship.
4. Lower your energy consumption
Whilst staying in a hotel or hostel it may seem tempting to use as much power as you want, since it doesn't cost you any extra at all, but keep in mind that power still has to come from somewhere, and though the cost may not be seen in physical dollars, you're still spending a non-renewable resource. My advice is to treat your room as you would your own home. Turn off the air con and the lights when you're not in the room, and re-use towels and sheets until you leave.
5. Water is life
Try to keep your showers short, and don't leave the taps running whilst you brush your teeth. It would also be great to refill and re-use plastic bottles to keep them out of landfill.
6. Consider walking
When you're getting around a new city or town you've never been to before, consider walking to your destinations. Not only will walking allow you to experience the place on a more personal level, but it will help keep you in shape as well! It's a win-win, right?
7. Support the local economy as much as you can
Act like a local, eat like a local and shop locally too. Immerse yourself into the culture as much as possible, connect with the places you're visiting and you'll find that you have a much more rewarding and authentic experience whilst you're there.
8. Eat local produce and avoid imported foods
Cut out the middle man! Eat food straight from the ground and you'll find it's not only healthier and more cost-effective, but it will also be a lot better for the environment too.
9. Say NO to plastic bags!
Take your backpack with you when you go shopping, or use re-usable canvas bags. If there's absolutely no way around using a plastic bag, be sure to re-use it again and don't just throw it out. Do not, under ANY circumstances, allow them to get into the ocean. Not only do fish get caught in them, but turtles mistake them for jellyfish and eat them too.
10. Be a voice and educate others
If your place of accomodation has a feedback section on their website, make sure to leave a review or suggest an idea to improve their environmental responsibilities. For example, if your hostel doesn't recycle that could be a good suggestion to make. If you see some tosser throwing litter on the ground, grow some balls and call them out on it. Educate others wherever and whenever you can, because it's everyone's responsibility to be more conscious of the environment.
11. Consider staying at "green hostels"
Yes, it can be tricky to tell if a hostel is eco-friendly when you're booking it from a website or by any method other than in person, but there are a couple of useful websites (including Trip Advisor) that will enable you to select hostels based on their "green foot." One of my personal favourites is Bookdifferent, who allow you to view both carbon footprint and eco-friendliness ratings. Being powered by Booking.com means that they cover hostels as well.
Well there you have it.. Now that we're all hugging trees and growing our dreadlocks long, on behalf of mother earth, thank you!