Leisure makes up a quarter of our carbon footprint. It’s also the easiest thing we can collectively change to make a better future for our children and grandchildren. Through sustainable leisure our free time can be a force for good!
We can all enjoy what’s on our doorstep as well as engaging with our local community. This way we will build resilience and security, cut our spending and live more fulfilling lives. In turn, we will leave more for the next generation and have more time for our family and friends.
Unfortunately, the relationship between our leisure time and the environment in the 21st century has been problematic. Modern lifestyles could be characterised by holidays to far away lands, regular use of the gym, attachment to screens, driving the next fast car and making money to fuel it all. As a result, we’ve built more infrastructure, mined many resources worldwide and have deteriorated natural ecosystems.
Here you will learn the true impact of leisure and what you can do to affect change.
Sustainable trips and holidays
Whether it’s a mini-break or full-blown once in a lifetime experience, the bulk of impact associated with leisure activities is made through our choice of holiday. Time is always a factor when considering these breaks, and therefore the transport used accounts for a huge proportion of impact. We often simply jump into a car or plane, eat convenience food and stay in places with the best facilities to ensure we get the most out of the little time we have away. We don’t often think of what’s in our own country, as we are drawn to the glamour of the foreign trip which our friends marvel at.
But consider that truly sustainable leisure and holidays will reflect what you really want to be doing! Most of us just need a relaxing place where we can read a book and get away from our daily grind, where we can eat well and do some unusual activities. The opportunities for doing this in our home nations whilst seeing something new are enormous. And when you tell your friends about the amazing hotel in York or eco-resort on Dartmoor, alongside describing your excellent new experiences, they will most likely be as jealous as ever!
You may have a particular activity you crave, like the being at the beach or going skiing. There are many options for rail transportation or even hiring an electric vehicle, which can be used to get to these experiences. It’s worthwhile considering these options as opposed to flights. If you’ve got a family member or friend you regularly visit on the other side of the world, think about cutting down the number of trips. Explain that you will visit less often, maybe once every three years due to the stress on the environment. People should understand. And you can do something different!
Top tips for sustainable holidays
- Make your home like a holiday and find amazing places to eat and explore on your doorstep. Celebrating the home and making the most of it is one of the best ways to improve use of resources. Why not do some home improvements and make it the best place to have your leisure time. You can explore local nature reserves, cycle out into the countryside and eat well right where you are.
- Take small breaks in the UK and be imaginative about new experiences. There are so many amazing places to explore in our home nations. There are volunteering holidays where you can learn something new, through to eco resorts where you can stay in luxury, with unusual accommodation and facilities such as wood burning hot tubs! Consider exploring the walks across our amazing landscapes and the countless cultural treasures available right here.
- Use new forms of transport. Booking in advance for trains is often cheaper than driving and gives a whole new experience and ceremony to getting somewhere. Electric vehicles (EV) do work and this is your opportunity to test them out. Why not hire an EV and take an electricity fuelled road trip!
- Cut down long distance flights. It’s no longer cool to fly to Thailand every year or make your annual trip to your Australian relatives. There’s just so much to do here! Make new annual routines and enjoy new experiences and tell your relatives or friends that you’ll come and see them every three years or so.
Volunteering as sustainable leisure
More often than not the sense of how much free time you have is associated with the amount you give to others. You seem to have more free time if you go and look after a neighbour or contribute to community activities like tree planting or coaching a children’s football team. You end up waving at passers-by when you walk down the street – when you never used to! And your sense of attachment to a place grows. This helps to bring you fulfilment, which you may well have travelled to the other side of the world to try to attain.
There are many ways to volunteer these days, from engaging with your local nature conservation organisation, through to your local food bank or school. You can also opt to join an organisation which is fighting for change and be with others who are thinking on the same wavelength as you. All you need do is go to a meeting, put your hand up and start your journey.
Sustainable leisure facilities
We all use leisure facilities for sport, religious activities, for community or learning. These facilities do take a lot from the environment, especially if your choice is golf, swimming or the gym. These places can become more sustainable and there are some which are making amazing leaps forward. Think about how you can influence these places. In many ways they are an extension of our personal expression of how we see the world.
Eco-friendly choices for pets
There are loads of ways to make having a pet more sustainable. You can opt for vegan food for your pet or use environmentally friendly products. Why not check out all our community recommendations on this website?
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