3 lessons on eco travel I learnt on my recent weekend trip to Bangkok

In the recent months, as I’ve made strides toward living a sustainable lifestyle, I have been feeling extremely conflicted about air travel. Don't get me wrong, I love traveling but I think the impact of air travel doesn't come up in conversations related to sustainability and the environment half as much as it should. I say this based on a two facts - 1) the aviation industry is a rare one in that it is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuel and 2) a single domestic trip can create a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person (which exceeds the annual per capita budget in order to ensure we do not cross a global temperature of 2C.)

We often overlook this fact because we only look at the total contribution of the aviation industry (which stood at 2% as per estimates shared by the ICAO.) What we fail to take into consideration is that as more and more people across developing nations begin to participate, this estimate is expected to snowball to 25% by 2050.

On my recent weekend trip to Bangkok, I realised that it is nearly impossible to avoid air travel when traveling internationally or on a tight timeline. That said, this damage can be offset by being more conscious of our footprint through other aspects of our travels. Here are three simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint while traveling.


1) Stay at an eco hostel

Staying at any hostel will help reduce your carbon footprint while travelling because you are sharing resources that otherwise would be dedicated to a single person (or two.) I was a bit skeptical about doing this because back home I enjoy living alone and can't imagine sharing my personal space with anyone. That said, the more I thought about it, the more the idea of me staying all by myself in a hotel room seemed wasteful. 

I decided to go a step further and look for an eco hostel in Bangkok and I was lucky enough to stumble upon "The Yard Hostel" which is located in the hipster and well-connected Ari neighbourhood. Yard, literally means relative in Thai, and after you spend a few minutes with the super friendly and kind staff and guests, you will definitely feel the sense of community at this place.

Sustainability and greenery are definitely at the core of this hostel, which is constructed from shipping containers and reused materials and is lush green with plants, while offering silence that one might imagine impossible to find in Bangkok. There is an emphasis on conserving resources by sharing as much as you can and by avoiding waste. They even offer cycles for free so that you can explore the neighbourhood sans emissions. I can't believe I am saying this, but after staying at The Yard, I don't think I will ever stay in a hotel while travelling again. 


2) Use transit and walk

During my stay I decided that I would not use a private cab to commute and committed myself to take advantage of Bangkok's well connected public transit system. This was a big move for me because I was traveling solo and didn’t speak the language. That said, I am glad I faced my fears because not only is Bangkok's transit system very well connected, it is also fairly easy to use. Based on instructions from the lovely staff at The Yard Hostel, I took the Airport Rail Link from Suvarnabhumi Airport and got off at the last stop on the line - Phaya thai. From here, I got on the Sukumvhit line to get off on the 3rd last stop (Ari) which is the same neighborhood as my hostel and after a few minutes walking, I arrived at my hostel. I was able to use the same line combined with quite a bit of walking to visit all of the places I did (I ended up walking about 60kms in 3 days.)


3) Say no to single-use plastic

Lessons can often be learnt from mistakes and that is exactly what happened to me when it came to using single-use plastic on this trip - I totally messed up! Back home, there is a ban that has been introduced on single-use plastic in my state and most places will offer non-plastic alternatives by default or even exclusively. But in Thailand, the scenario was quite contrasting, with most shops and eateries still dominantly using plastic.I was able to overcome this in most cases but I'd be lying if I said I was successful all the time. So if you are planning a trip soon, I highly recommend carrying a basic kit that consists of cloth bags, reusable straws/forks/knives/spoons and maybe even a container or two. This should equip you you to avoid single-use plastic to a a fairly large extent.


Are you planning an international trip anytime soon? If so, which of these tips are you most excited to give a shot? Leave a comment.

Introducing: Required Reading

Required Reading is a new section on the blog through which I want to share the best articles I’ve discovered on the Internet. Articles that tell inspiring stories of great people, of unknown people, of seemingly ordinary occurrences that can have extra-ordinary repercussion in your life. Articles that will help you improve your life, to live it to the fullest, articles that bestow wisdom and change how you see the world. Basically, stuff that you should be required to read.

This read on Harvey Weinstein and the economics of consent

Health tips from people who've lived for more than a 100 years

HBR tells you how to deal with an incompetent boss

Read about this absolutely inspiring man 

A story of slavery in Modern America by by Alex Tizon

This article asks whether it is still ethical to travel to Iceland

An interview with Chris Earl - A ceramist, furniture maker, chef, father, and husband

Essentials: Chambord French Press by Bodum

Essentials is a new series on my blog that tries to tackle two problems of modern consumerism - 1) The tendency to mindlessly buy things that we don't need and 2) The tendency to end up buying something we need that isn't the best in the category in terms of it's aesthetic and functional value. 

Products (in the broader sense) that I will be sharing here, would have been purchased only after I've carefully identified the permanent value that they create in my life. Additionally, I will also study and pick the most aesthetically and functionally rich offering in said category. 

Over the past few years, a fresh cup of coffee has become one of the most integral part of my morning ritual (more on that on a future post.) Of all the ways to manually brew coffee, a French press is hands-down the best method (especially if you drink your coffee black.) I prefer the method for a few reasons - 1) It is simple and easy, all you need is some coffee (course grind) and hot water and 2) It offers the benefit of temperature control (which is important as the use of boiling water can often reduce the potency of coffee.)


I own French Press' by both Hario and Bodum, but I prefer "The Chambord" by Bodum. I found both the design and the build quality of the Bodum Press to be superior to that of the Hario. From a design perspective, I found the Chambord's minimal, classic, and seamless aesthetic far more pleasing. The quality of the materials used (which although are similar) seem to be better in the case of the Chambord, whether it is the grip, or the precision crafted stainless steel frame (which looks as new as the day I got it.) From a functional perspective, the Chambord is way easier to clean and definitely more durable. The Chambord comes in three sizes ranging from 0.5L to 1.5L. I personally prefer the 0.5L, since portability is important to me. The 0.5L makes two full cups and one full mug. 

A French press is an essential for anyone who loves a rich, smooth, flavorful coffee to kickstart their morning and the Bodum Chombard with it's classic and minimalist design and exceptional build quality is the obvious choice.