8 Ways Traveling Families Are Fighting Climate Change

8 Ways Traveling Families Are Fighting Climate Change

by Elizabeth Doerr

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Ray Yang family hike White Mountains

As parents, climate change is an incredibly important and pressing issue that affects our children’s future. And we can often feel paralyzed about what to do about it. While we recognize that real systemic change needs to happen through progressive policy and regulations worldwide, we can, at the very least, do our best to curb our personal carbon footprint. What we’ve found from this Bébé Voyage community is that you are clearly doing what you can to make change! On the day of the climate strike, September 21, 2019, Juliet asked the community through a Facebook post what you’re doing to make an impact. And there were so many responses. Here’s what you all are doing to help fight climate change in your own way.

Thanks to every community member who agreed to share their comments in our article: 

ONE: You change your travel habits. As a community of travelers, this is a really important one. Travel doesn’t necessarily have to involve planes or hotels, but it can be as simple as exploring nearby places. Or even bringing the traveling mindset to your own community (check out this Bébé Voyage post about being a tourist in your own city). While some have opted to stay closer to home, others have opted to travel less often, but for longer periods of time. Some examples of how this community is changing their travel habits:

“We are trying now to consider holidays and travel around driving, camping and using trains as much as possible. I think it’s so hard not to fly but we are trying to make our travel decisions to fly more considered and very occasional.”–Jane Askham

“I’ve actually given up flying for 2019, barring family emergencies. We’ve done a regional vacation by train in a new to us place. I’ve taken some vacation days to go to the state capital and lobby for education funding with a diverse group of parents. We’ve really plugged into our local public school in Harlem. We’ve had a series of housemates from all over the world (it’s a bit like hosting an exchange student). We’ve grown and traveled a lot, this year without planes.”–Carolyn Kelly

Regarding travel, my family and I have decided to focus on local travel more than flying somewhere else. After years of traveling, I realize how much there is to discover in just one place and learning where you are from and protecting it is essential.”–Laura Kneale 

Ray Yang boy hiking mountains

TWO: You buy carbon offsets when you do travel. We’re a community of travelers, so, of course, travel is going to happen. And some of you are working to counter your family’s footprint by buying carbon offsets. (There are a lot of places to purchase offsets, check out the Sierra Club Outings’ page for some great info and links for where to purchase).

THREE: You vote for the people in your community who are working to enact strong climate change and environmental policies and demand action from our lawmakers to create strong regulations.

FOUR: You’ve curbed your consumption. This National Geographic article describes how city-dwellers (many of us, I imagine) can have the most impact through buying less stuff. We don’t need as much as marketers tell us we do and we don’t need it the next day as Amazon allows us to. So before you buy something, think twice about whether you need it. Some tips fellow Club members have for doing that include:

    • Buying secondhand: When you need something, stop in at the thrift store first. You might find something even better…and way cooler!
    • Join your local Buy Nothing group: This is a hyper-local group of people (think the people within a few blocks radius) who are freely gifting amazing things. (On a personal note: all my kid’s Christmas presents this year came from my Buy Nothing group).

FIVE: You’ve reduced first (then you’ve reused, then you’ve recycled). While this is pretty much the same thing as curbing consumption, it warrants highlighting (especially those of us who grew up in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle generation in the U.S.). Reusing and recycling are great and all, but those should be last resort. Reducing is the key!

Rebecca Redfern said it well in her comment on the post: “Eradicating the single-use mindset is a big one whether it is for plastic or other goods. Reuse and repurpose.” Eliminating single-use plastic waste is huge and if you always have your spare metal straw, your reusable food containers, your travel beverage mugs, and your reusable grocery tote bags, that can go a long way. Additionally, many in the sustainability community have re-branded the 3Rs to the 6Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Replace. It’s a shift of mindset from the very beginning.

SIX: You’re making general lifestyle changes. Some of you are cutting out meat from your diet (or only eating it a couple times a week), some of you drive electric cars or got rid of your cars altogether, and some of you invested in solar panels. “Look at every aspect of your daily life and ask yourself what can you change,” wrote Kelsey Swann in her comment. “what NEEDS to change on a global scale. We have ditched everything from meat to plastics of all kind, reusable everything no matter how small (glass floss containers, cloth produce bags, cut up cloth is our wiping rags and napkins).”

SEVEN: You’re educating your kids (or at the very least thinking about). This one is a tough one, and honestly, it’s probably the more abstract action for a lot of us. But it’s something we’re at least thinking about and many of us are talking about with our kids. Their future is going to be different from ours. So how do we have those discussions? And we’re asking ourselves, what am I doing to ensure that the change is as drastic as it has to be? This is an area that we would like to have more time to delve into in the future (so stay tuned for that).

EIGHT: You’re giving your kids the appreciation for this amazing planet of ours. Teaching your kids to love and appreciate the earth goes right along with climate change education. There is no better way to do that than through travel.

Ray Yang, who contributed the photos throughout this blog post, brings his kids Aaron (8) and Arielle (6) to the White Mountains in New Hampshire regularly to hike. “After taking them outdoors all the time, they are becoming knowledgeable about wild animals, plants, rock formation and cloud pattern,” Ray says. “They learned about how to forecast weather and condition based on these observations, and they enjoyed the learning. These lessons made them appreciate nature more. To us, this is way better than them being knowledgeable about TV shows and video games.”

Ray Yang son and daughter hiking mountains

Now all of this might sound super overwhelming. But if you’re still with us (and we hope you are!), it doesn’t have to be a huge change all at once. One tip posted by Louise Perez (and Bébé Voyage Co-founder Marianne Perez de Fransuis’ mom) might be a great way to think about the new year and the decade: “We all can make contributions in our own way. Every year since 2004…I have each year started a new habit.” Maybe we can each choose something from the list above to change this year.

Additionally, a great resource to help give you some direction is REI’s #OptOutside Opt to Act campaign. Five years ago, the outdoor gear co-op started a movement to get their employees (and others) outside rather than in the stores on Black Friday, now they’re taking that one step farther to encourage people to take action and make changes in their lives to help reverse climate change. They provide some great resources to help you do that including an Opt to Act Plan, 52 simple challenges to take each week of the year, and a tool to receive weekly updates.

Thank you to all the Bébé Voyage community members who posted about what you’re doing to make an impact on climate change. Keep up the great work and stay tuned for more of what Bébé Voyage has planned to bring your voices together to make large-scale change.

Many thanks to Ray Yang, who contributed the photos of his family hikes to this article, and who hopes to inspire more families to enjoy the outdoors and outdoors-type vacations with his work. He can also be found at YouTube at Family World Wanderer.

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