By Caroline Adams
Here at Holiday Extras we love to travel. But you've no doubt seen in the news recently that some destinations are really struggling because of mass tourism. How can we avoid adding to the problem? One way is by travelling sustainably. We have plenty of tips on how to do this, but our favourite (and most fun) is by simply choosing the right destination! So, we've shortlisted ten of our favourite 'green' destinations to help you travel better.
1. Stockholm, Sweden
This beautiful Scandinavian capital was the first country to win the European Green Capital by the EU Commission back in 2010, so it's no wonder it's made our top 10 green destinations. Not only does the city aim to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050, it has also cut CO2 emissions by 25% per inhabitant since 1990!
It gets better. There is even a building called Kungsbrohuset that's heated solely by people's body heat! The geothermal system at Stockholm's central station captures heat from over 200,000 commuters, which is then sourced into water and used to provide heating. Sweden, we salute you.
Tempted to see it for yourself? Here are some of our top things to do in Stockholm.
2. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Sitting between Croatia, Italy and Austria, Slovenia has everything from waterfalls and mountains to clean cities and a stunning Venetian-esque coastline.
Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, won European Green Capital in 2016, and with good reason! Its citizens are so proud of their city that they all make a conscious effort to protect it. In fact, Slovenia's tap water is some of the cleanest in Europe. Slovenians are so proud of it that they want everyone to have access to it - for free! You'll find public drinking fountains throughout the city, operating from April to October free of charge.
It's not just the water in Ljubljana that's impressive. The city has made great efforts to make its transport as eco-friendly as possible. Most people get about by foot or bike but you can also make use of the urban electric train or buses run on natural gas.
Oh, and did we mention that they offer free transport via Kavalir for the elderly and those who have difficulty walking? Yep, this city really does deserve its title of European Green Capital. Loving the sound of Slovenia? Check out these beautiful places to visit.
3. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver recognises that our carbon footprint is way too large for our planet and that changes need to be made fast. So the people of Vancouver introduced a 'Greenest City' action plan that aims to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020.
The city has plenty of bikes, wind farms, green spaces and the council is even encouraging citizens to start a new hobby... beekeeping! Keeping bees is a great way of living sustainably as it not only supports bee populations, it also improves pollination of plants, resulting in better quality produce.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is one of the most beautiful places that we've ever had the privilege of visiting and the country is taking steps to make sure it stays that way. The country's capital, Reykjavik, is home to the world's largest geothermal heating system. In fact, a whopping 90% of housing in Iceland is heated geothermally, making temperatures bearable even in the freezing winter months. The Icelandic government has also stated that it wants Reykjavik to be completely fossil fuel free by 2050. Nice one, Iceland!
If you're keen to explore the land of fire and ice, check out our guide to Iceland. We've got all the information you'll need from where to stay, when to visit, what to pack and what to do once you're there.
5. San Francisco, California, USA
San Francisco is known as California's green city for many reasons, but the most impressive is its attitude towards food. If you're a vegan you need to go here. Seriously. There are plenty of phenomenal restaurants offering vegan and veggie versions of Californian favourites, like sushi and Mexican food. San Francisco's restaurants also maintain a 'farm to table' movement which promotes buying locally sourced food, meaning that a lot of menus are seasonal.
But it's more than just their food ethic that they've got right! The city aims to be completely waste free by 2020. This may sound unrealistic, but they were the first city to ban plastic bags back in 2007, so it's clear to see that San Francisco really does lead the way in terms of sustainable living.
6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
The 'Dam is well known for being green, and we aren't talking about the coffee shops. The city is notorious for its incredible cycling infrastructure. In fact, Amsterdam has more bicycles than it does people! It's also making strides to improve air quality by encouraging people to use electric transport like trams instead of their cars.
Amsterdam also has the Taste Before You Waste organisation which collects unused food from supermarkets and gives it to local charities. They even serve a three course meal every Wednesday at De Meevaart in Amsterdam Oost, fondly called 'Wasteless Wednesdays'. Anyone can come along and there's often surplus food to take home with you! You can find out more about these events on their Facebook page.
7. Bristol, United Kingdom
Bristol was named European Green Capital in 2015, making it the first and only UK city to receive the title. It's also the UK's first cycling city meaning that it has cycle routes on nearly every major road. You'll also find plenty of places to park your bike and free-to-use bike pumps for when you get a pesky flat!
If you're planning on staying in Bristol then we recommend the Greenhouse B&B. Thanks to its solar panels, floor made out of recycled plastic and LED lighting it won a Green Tourism Gold award, making it the greenest place to stay in Bristol.
Another awesome (albeit unusual) fact about Bristol is that it once had a bus run on something completely natural - human poop! The initiative was led by GENeco to prove that biomethane gas could be an alternative to fossil fuels. Unfortunately the poop bus plan went down the pan when its funding was rejected in 2016. However, other cities such as Oslo and Portland are now exploring using this unusual method. Watch this space!
8. Fethiye, Turkey
This beautiful town in the Mugla region of Turkey has come on leaps and bounds in terms of sustainability. The Travel Foundation has worked on two projects in the area; one that focuses on the threats of marine tourism and one that worked to connect local farmers to big hotels in the area.
We recently visited with Girl vs Globe and The Travel Foundation to learn more about the projects. We were so impressed by the number of recycling bins in the area and how much of the food is now sourced locally. Buying local produce not only helps the economy, it also means that what's on your plate hasn't travelled miles to get there. So bear this in mind when choosing your restaurant abroad and at home. Check out our video to learn more about our time there!
9. Kenya, Africa
Kenya is home to majestic animals like elephants, lions and rhinos and is also home to 11% of the world's avian species. You can see this incredible wildlife in a sustainable way by visiting one of Kenya's national parks and reserves. By visiting places like this you're supporting conservation efforts and the local communities, so it's really worthwhile. As with any animal attraction, research it before you go and bear in mind that visitors should aim to disturb the animals as little as possible.
Kenya has plenty of eco-friendly places to stay too. A lot of eco-lodges use sustainably sourced energy, renewable materials and use methods to conserve water. Tempted to take a trip of a lifetime in Kenya? Check out these great eco-friendly lodges to stay.
Can such a densely populated city-state really be green? Surprisingly, yes! Singapore has changed a lot in fifty years. In that time they have managed to build a clean and innovative metropolis with one of the highest home ownership rates in the world.
Singapore hasn't got a lot of room on the ground for green space. So they came up with an incredible solution - sky gardens! Marina Bay has a 100% greenery replacement policy, meaning that developers must replace greenery displaced by buildings, and visiting there is like stepping into the future. There really is no other place in the world like it.
Singapore is also working on introducing Smart Work Centres. These are shared spaces for people who work at different companies located near their homes. This will cut the length of commute for a lot of people, lowering CO2 emissions and helping with citizen's work-life balance. Dying to move to Singapore? Yeah, us too.
So that's our round-up of green destinations to visit in 2017. We hope you enjoyed this article and if you did, make sure you share it with your friends! Also remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Written by Caroline Adams, social media marketing executive at Holiday Extras.Top