How to be a sustainable traveller in Malaysia

Read this how to guide to learn how to be a sustainable traveller and reduce your impact on the planet whilst you travel.

Guest Post by Jess.

We live in a time of unprecedented concern for the environment. Scientific evidence is growing that points toward a global catastrophe if we do nothing to reduce our carbon footprint. So, please, heed the following advice about how you can be a sustainable traveller in Malaysia. 

Go on an Eco Trip

The best way to help the environment is to spend your vacation time volunteering on ecological projects such as the Malayan Rainforest Station or conservation projects in the Perhentian Islands. You can book a volunteering trip through conservation tourism companies like Fuze Ecoteer. By giving up your time in this way, you can be certain that you’re not only a sustainable traveller but that you’re also actively engaged in conservation in Malaysia. 

Choose responsible travel companies

If you don’t want to spend your vacation doing voluntary work, you can still be a sustainable traveller by ensuring that the tour company you choose is dedicated to sustainable tourism. The best way to ensure this is by checking your tour organization is certified through the Travelife certification program

Review Malaysian businesses

You can encourage the restaurants, gift shops, and hotels you visit in Malaysia to be more environmentally friendly through reviews on social media. 

If you see restaurant staff putting glass and plastic into a regular bin with the food scraps, don’t just rate them 1 star on TripAdvisor. Take the time to write out a full review praising them for the food you enjoyed but admonishing them for their lack of recycling. Tell them you knocked off 1 star for their poor environmental awareness. 

Other tourists will see your review and may back you up in your own reviews. Restaurants and other tourism businesses eager to have positive reviews will be encouraged to not only adopt more environmentally friendly procedures but also to advertise such. With the domino effect, your well thought out review could lead to all the businesses in that area becoming more sustainable.

Reduce gas consumption

Where possible, avoid transportation that uses a lot of gas. Public transport is better than a car. Using a bicycle to get where you’re going is even better. And instead of taking a taxi boat, why not kayak around the beaches? 

If you book your vacation through a company like Fuze Ecoteer, you won’t need to worry so much about this because they will already have researched the most environmentally friendly options on your behalf. But if you are traveling by yourself, think twice before climbing into a gas-guzzling taxi if you can take a bus instead. 

Minimize electricity use

Be considerate when using electricity. Don’t leave lights on if you don’t need them. Don’t leave the TV on for background noise. These days, you can use a charger with solar panels for backpacking to keep your smartphone and other devices fully charged. In sunny Malaysia, you’ll keep your devices fully charged without ever worrying about running out of power. 

Use refillable bottles

While enjoying Malaysia’s beautiful beaches and amazing rainforests, you’ll want to remain hydrated. As a sustainable traveller instead of buying bottled water, carry a backpack with hydration bladder on your hiking adventures. Or purchase a water filter bottle you can refill at your hotel or other tourist locations offering water.

With an app such as RefillMyBottle, you can swiftly locate local water sources in Malaysia. Alternatively, check out backpacker forums online or even TripAdvisor’s discussion pages. 

There are a few BYOB businesses in Kuala Lumpur where you can take old bottles with you when you purchase products such as detergents. Before purchasing anything that comes in a bottle, consider if you can’t buy that product from a BYOB store. 

Use reusable bags

Purchase a lightweight jute or cotton bag to use while shopping for food, clothes, or souvenirs. Don’t accept the free plastic bags from gift shops. In fact, if they try to give you a plastic bag with the shop’s logo, leave them a review on social media asking them to stop giving out plastic bags. 

Reduce plastic packaging

You can purchase products such as soap and shampoo in eco-friendly packaging. Solid soaps and shampoos don’t need a plastic bottle and are often cruelty-free and vegan. If you plan to swim, choose eco-friendly sunscreens packaged in or recyclable metal tins or biodegradable tubes. 

Avoid disposable cutlery and plastic straws. 

Take metal or high-quality plastic knives and forks to use on your vacation. Refuse single-use items, such as plastic straws. Your kids will love a reusable novelty straw with wacky shapes and cartoon-related themes. Again, if restaurants and food outlets force disposable cutlery on you, ensure you provide them with a constructive review on social media. 

Don’t use cling film

When you head to the beach with sandwiches and other picnic food, don’t cover your food in plastic wrap. Instead, invest in reusable plastic containers that keep your food unsquashed and fresh. 

When buying multipack drinks, avoid 6-pack rings

Drinks are often sold in packs linked by plastic rings. These rings are not biodegradable and can present a significant danger to marine wildlife if they get washed out to sea. If you must buy multipacks with such rings, remove the packaging before you head for the beach or on a hike and dispose of them carefully.

Use a reusable coffee cup

If you love coffee, you can obtain travel coffee mugs that fit under standard hot water and coffee spouts. These are easy to keep clean and lightweight. It might be fun to get your name scrawled across a plastic cup, but reusable cups are so much better for the environment. 

Recycle

This should be obvious. When you arrive at your vacation destination, enquire about local facilities for recycling. During your stay, collect and clean anything recyclable. Ensure that any single-use plastic items, metal items, and glass items you use are recycled before you leave. If your hotel does not provide recycling bins, as them why and mention this in your review on social media.

Think outside your box

It’s great that you’re doing so much to ensure you’re a sustainable traveller, but what about your fellow tourists? After lounging on the beach all day, why not take just 10 minutes to gather any litter left behind by other tourists.

While gathering recyclables, ask other tourists if they have anything to throw away that’s recyclable. By asking, you’re reminding them that they should be recycling and encouraging them to follow your example. 

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