Interest in climate change adaptation and mitigation has been on a steep incline. Yet there are still those who deny its very existence. But why the lack of acceptance?

Interest in climate change adaptation and mitigation has been on a steep incline since around 2007. The climate protests happening around the world and visual evidence of damage caused by natural disasters is rampant, causing many to take up arms and claim responsibility as a consumer. Yet there are still those who are dragging their heels. Corporate companies, such as those who profit from continued degradation of natural resources continue to protest against the urgency of the climate crisis. The ambivalent attitudes towards climate change and lack of acceptance of its many environmental and social impacts is a key barrier to effective climate change action. Yet there is still hope. Local and individual climate action is picking up speed. One may only turn on the news and be greeted with images of Greta Thunberg to understand the impact that one person may have.

Working to combat climate change starts with the individual. For many, the first step towards progress begins with recognising and accepting the existence and impacts of climate change on our planet. As an individual, it is important to evaluate the impacts of climate change, as ignoring the critical urgency of the problem will lead to further escalations of environmental, social and economic disruptions down the line. But there must also be a level of individual responsibility. As stated by Time Magazine in 1993, “We need to do something about the environmental damage in our heads”. We not only need to recognise our impact on our planet, but, more importantly, how our daily behaviour, attitudes and travel plans can help improve our environment.

The evidence of escalating destruction through climate disaster is everywhere, yet a lot of us still seem to be ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. A plausible reason for this is that many evolutionary theorists believe that we as people are fundamentally egocentric, looking out, first and foremost, for our own needs. According to author and biologist Jeremy Griffith, this “out-of-control egocentric, selfish, competitive and aggressive behaviour” that leads to a lack of cooperation within society, is to blame not just for the environmental problems we are facing but for all of the world’s problems. Environmental historians such as William Cronon blame the social constructions of nature, stating that we live in a society of changing human attitudes and cultural narratives surrounding the natural environment. We depend on eco-systems to sustain human life, yet we reduce them to mass monocultural farms and we travel to ‘get back to nature’. We have lost our place in the natural world, as we now dominate it. How are we meant to revalue and resituate ourselves within nature, when we have consumed it for so long?

The first thing to do to is to take responsibility and claim ownership. We live in a “throw away” economy with a rampant consumer society resulting in excess goods and waste. We buy things of poor-quality, that we don’t really need, that ends up getting thrown away. A desire for the trendiest fashion, convenient foods pre-packaged in plastics or cheap flights to overpopulated destinations results in unnecessary harm to the environment. Beyond our consumption habits, our daily lifestyle can be improved as well.

Our lifestyle choices may seem minor in the moment; for instance, taking a long shower, leaving the lights on in vacant rooms or driving short distances. But they have severe impacts on our environment – transport and electricity are leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Excess food consumption and overuse of agricultural land is a main factor in severe water waste and the fashion industry continues to utilise environmentally unsound supply chains. The tourism industry accounts for approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To make a difference, we need to change our lifestyle by compromising and making personal sacrifices. Small individual action needs to lead to educating others. This collaboration can help accelerate positive change.

Taking ownership

It can be difficult to take ownership of our environmental impact, especially if we are not surrounded by the air pollution of a city or the extreme weather of a tropical climate. It is even harder to recognisze or think about our carbon footprint whilst enjoying ourselves on vacation. However, understanding that the habits we adopt and goods we buy do impact our greater environment is the first step in taking ownership of our role in the onset of climate changedeteriorating environment. It is often easier to blame those in power, whether that is the government or large corporations, for not proactively working to save our environment. But it is our demand for consumption and an easy lifestyle that drives their actions.

Changing one’s lifestyle & personal sacrifice

Education is one of the most important steps towards change. We need to understand the current crisis and comprehend what the future will look like if we continue in the same way. Then, more sustainable lifestyle changes should be adopted. Changing your habits may sound daunting, but there are small steps you can take that are accessible and can be easily embedded in your daily routine.

Changes you can make towards a more sustainable lifestyle:

Water – We can all make more of an effort to reduce the amount of water we use. for our showers and in the kitchen.

Aside from the obvious habits of avoiding flushing the toilet too often or turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth, there are many ways to be water savvy on the day to day. In your home, you can install a water-saving showerhead to reduce the flow and opt to run a full dishwasher instead of hand washing. Although it may seem counterproductive to use a dishwasher, one study showed that using an extravagant amount of hot water when hand-washing dishes, as most of us do, emits 8000g of CO2 compared to 990g for a dishwasher.

You can continue these good habits when travelling by informing your hotel that you don’t need your towels washed every day. And although we tend to indulge in long, spa-like showers while on vacation, try cutting back on shower times if you have already spent a lot of time in the sauna or pool. Purchasing a reusable water bottle is also advisable. Aside from benefits of plastic reduction, it takes around 3 times more water to produce a plastic water bottle than they actually hold. Travelling in this way may be difficult as many destinations may not have access to clean drinking water, so consider bringing water purifier bottle or water purification tablets. Bringing a bottle of hand sanitiser is also a handy way to save water whilst travelling.


We can all reduce the amount of food we waste by tackling our tendencyies to always crave more. On an all-inclusive holiday Portion control is important,it is easy to get swept away in the abundance of delicious food miraculously appearing at every mealtime. Portion control is important, not only to reduce food waste, but because food production is one of the leading causes of air and water pollution. and fill your plate with a little more than you can eat. The way food is produced, preserved and manipulated, then moved around the world is a matter high on the list for climate change action. Food production contributes to 21% to 37% of global greenhouse gases, as well as a mainspring in deforestation, loss of biodiversity and decline in water tables. Meat and dairy products are the main culprits, taking up three quarters of the world’s available agricultural land. Not only is this environmentally damaging, it has severe social impacts too. Rural communities are often victim to agricultural expansion and agrochemicals, suffering from limited livelihoods and opportunities to utilise local lands. A key example of this is the mass production of soy in Paraguay, where local farmers are no longer able to farm their lands.

It is therefore important to reduce our intake and consider alternative options. It is the constant demand for food that keeps these systems in place, especially the tourist trade. The mass import of food to tourism destinations, with its various stages of transportation, packaging and refrigeration are increasing global emissions. Therefore, consider eating more locally while on holiday and shopping at local markets.

We can change our diets less dairy and red meats, as these industries are the biggest culprits.


Avoid using single-use plastics and buying pre-packaged foods to considerably lower your contribution to ocean pollution. When visiting cafes and delis, bring your own reusable cutlery and containers as an alternative to plastic packaging.
Your reusable water bottle will also come in handy on a trip if you are visiting a destination with clean tap water, as you will be both helping the environment and saving money on plastic water bottles. Plastic bottles don’t just take around 450 years to decompose, they also require 1.6 million barrels of oil a year to produce.

While on vacation, pack your own toiletries instead of using the wasteful hotel bottles. If possible, avoid using products that contain micro-beads, a form of microplastic found in common cosmetic and personal care products. These microplastics are so small that they flow into sewage systems and then into our oceans. Marine life may eat or absorb these microplastics, meaning that humans most likely ingest them via seafood. Tip – check the label for ingredients such as polyethylene and polypropylene to avoid plastic-based toiletries.

To really tackle plastic use, avoid buying clothes made from 100% polyester, polyester blends or synthetic materials. These are essentially made of plastic and packed with plastic microfibres, which much like microplastics, are released into the oceans when washed. Consider buying second hand and vintage clothes or sourcing garments made of natural materials such as wool, hemp or undyed organic cotton. Avoid buying cheap clothing souvenirs whilst on holiday as these are most likely made of harmful plastics blends.

Your reusable water bottle will also come in handy on a trip if you are visiting a destination with clean tap water, as you will be both helping the environment and saving money on plastic water bottles.450 years to decompose, barrels of oil a year to produce.


Instead of driving short distances, walk, cycle or use public transport. In addition, think carefully about the holiday you’re looking to book. Choosing to travel sustainably can help reduce your carbon footprint, especially if you travel often. Choosing an airline that makes efforts towards sustainability is your best choice. Some airlines participate in carbon offsetting, which is when airlines pay to compensate for their CO2 emissions. However, this is not the most effective method. Airlines such as EasyJet are aiming to fill every seat on their modern, efficient aircrafts. This means that their emissions per passenger will be less than half of some of their rivals. Even better, EasyJet offers some of the cheapest ticket prices – so you can help the environment while still travelling on a budget. If you struggle to book eco-friendly travel on your own, there are also destination management organisations that offer travel packages consisting of sustainable choices for accommodation and activities.

Consumer goods

Pollution concerns apply to our shopping habits as well. Indulging in a bit of retail whilst abroad is one of the most fun parts of being holiday. However, many souvenirs are mass manufactured and imported from far away, contributing to global greenhouse emissions. When on holiday, think about what souvenirs you really need to buy and try to opt for locally produced items made from sustainable materials, rather than factory-made plastic goods.

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world as textile factories often dispose of toxic wastewaters containing lead and mercury directly into rivers Fortunately, the fast fashion industry seems to be slowing down. The increase in second-hand and ethical clothing shopping means the consumer is saving money as well as being more sustainable. Purchase some locally produced and naturally dyed garments whilst on vacation and support local craftspeople.

Educating Others

Once we are equipped with the knowledge, we need to inform others about climate change and spread the message through word of mouth or social media. Utilising platforms that enable access to mass audiences is essential to inform others about their environmental impact. Social media mobiliszes environmental activists, such as the young Greta Thunberg. Thunberg’s social media presence has inspired many other young climate activists around the world and brought more than 1.6 million of them together through her Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement. Her story and ability to bring people together proves that sometimes, people are acting out of ignorance – not because they don’t want to make a difference.

At home, you can educate your friends and family even easier than on social media. Direct contact with Yyour household habits, such as using less water and recycling, will likely rub off on them and enable them to do the same. Even better, you can cook vegan meals for your friends and family to show them that sustainability not only benefits the environment, but also their appetites. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. A vegan diet not only limits your greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduces your impact on land and water use. In the UK it is averaged that if everyone switched to the World Health Organisation’s healthy daily diet, we’d save 15 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Individual Impact

Adapting a more sustainable lifestyle and becoming a more environmentally savvy traveller starts with personal responsibility for our part in our current climate. Until we recognise our inherent inherent consumptive habitsselfishness, progress towards a better climate cannot be made. Sustainability is a lifestyle, not just something we focus on the once or twice a year whenthat we go on holiday. We have to own the problem and live the solution.