The ultimate sustainable holiday: take the chickens with you

by Piper Terrett

The summer holidays are nearly here. Hooray! I can’t wait. We’re off on a little trip away soon and I’m really looking forward to it. Like many of you, I’m in the need of a break and can’t wait to put my feet up and do nothing for a few days.

If you’re somebody who tries to live a greener lifestyle, when you’re on holiday do you bring your good habits with you or are you tempted to have a rest from them too? Do you find yourself thinking, well, I’m on holiday, give me a break! It’s tempting to switch off when we’re in holiday mode, and  not always that easy to keep up green habits if the facilities aren’t available. but it’s still the same old planet whether we’re holidaying in Devon, France or deepest, darkest Peru; it makes sense to show it the same respect wherever we are.

When I go on holiday it always interests me to see how other places manage their recycling and energy-saving efforts.  As a child staying in French guest houses, I recall those hallway lights they had which were on a timer. They’d usually turned off by the time I’d got halfway to my room and I had to grope the rest of the way in the dark. Now these power-saving lights are commonplace in many flat complexes in the UK.  I also remember, with my other half Doug, being fascinated by the multi-coloured bin compartments we spotted in Menorca. They were ahead of us Brits and already had separate containers for glass, paper and plastic – now often seen in UK city centres. And, obviously, solar panels were always a common sight in Spain. Now I’m seeing more and more of them cropping up in my own neighbourhood, which is great news.

Last year, when we holidayed in Devon, the owners of our cottage left a long list of instructions for the recycling system. It took a while to master, as it was different from our system at home. They had a box outside for recyclable plastics, instead of the pink plastic bags we have in Billericay, and they also recycled food in a special bin. At the time our food recycling system hadn’t started yet so it was interesting to try it out. (You really notice how much food you’re wasting when you have to collect it!)

If you’re going abroad, you might be conscious of other energy-saving travel issues, such as fuel-hungry air-conditioning systems or wasting water, and trying to ensure that the rest of your stay is as sustainable as possible. I like to think of it as behaving like a good house guest while in someone else’s home and treating their environment with the same respect we’d afford our own town or country.

However, on trying to be greener, it’s not just the holiday destination that we need to consider, but also the homes we’ve left behind. In the rush to go on holiday there are so many things to do that it’s easy to forget to reduce our home energy use while we’re away. It doesn’t make sense to leave electronic gadgets or the central heating ticking over while we’re away. As well as the unnecessary energy use, there’s also the cost to think of. This year I’ll be making a special effort to ensure that I’m not wasting energy by leaving microwaves, DVDs, laptops and other electrical equipment on while we’re away or the central heating. It’s a lot to remember but, along with buying travel insurance and sun cream, why not join me in putting it on your pre-holiday to-do list this year too?