Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or planning your first sail around the world, there are key things we keep in mind when adding another stamp to the passport. For some, the focus is on being in warmer weather, preferably close to the beach. For others, they’re looking to do some extreme sports adventure, and are open to any climate.
Maybe you want to visit the home country(-ies) of your lineage. But then, there’s another group of people out there. A group of people who want to visit friendly countries (eco -friendly, to be exact). And luckily, there have been plenty of studies ranking the most eco friendly countries in the world. So if you’re one of those people looking to breathe fresh air, drink from paper or metal straws, and recycle like your life depended on it, be sure to visit one of these awesome places and live your best eco-friendly life.
Finland is THE most eco-friendly country in the world right now. But to be honest, all of the Nordic countries take the top four spots for most eco-friendly. This includes Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. They’re obviously taking tips from their neighbors, and have similar priorities when it comes to power conservation and forest preservation. 35% of Finland’s power comes from renewable sources, and tight protection laws are in place for endangered species like the Saimaa ringed seal (the rarest seal in the world). As one of the wealthiest industrialised countries, they’re always striving to be better, even hoping to be 50% MORE environmentally friendly by 2030.
Photo: Soul Travel Blog
For a country that is smaller than the size of New Jersey, Slovenia is still covered in four major natural regions: the Alps, Dinarides, Pannonian Plain and the Mediterranean. It’s received 96 out of 100 sustainability factors and is 60% covered in forest, so preservation is a high priority. If you’re looking to explore 40+ parks and reserves on vacation in the future, be sure to do it in Slovenia.
Photo: Get Lost Magazine
Over the last few years, Spain’s eco-friendly initiatives have changed drastically, and for the better. Between the super streamlined public transit system and various ‘must see’ attractions surrounded by walking and cycle trails, eco-tourism has been heavily established and promoted. There’s a solid 40 miles of paths that connect Jaen and Alcaudete for you to feast your eyes on; rolling hills and peaks for days. Eco farms seems to be a big thing now as well, places where you can camp in a Mongolian style yurt and draw your own spring water, with the perk of waking up to breathtaking scenery and fresher than fresh air because they care about their green regions. Oh, and I guess the 361% increase in patents for inventions related to renewable energies between 2004 and 2015 might have something to do with it.
Portugal is one not normally highlighted as an eco-friendly country, but you better believe that the Portuguese have really directed a lot of energy into reducing their carbon footprint. They have achieved a significant reduction in the greenhouse emissions, with one of their most famous regions (Azores) being named the most sustainable destination in Europe in 2014. There has been a big influx in rural retreats as well, putting in the effort to provide a unique experience, catering to both the guests and mother nature.
For such a small country, Estonia has been making huge strides to becoming more environmentally friendly. The majority is on board being eco-friendly, so much so that pretty much anywhere you decide to book accommodation has received the Green Key Label. I’d say it’s partly because half of the territory is covered in forest, so anything built and grown is naturally organic; plus the people of Estonia truly believe it’s ‘the key to ensuring the health and wellbeing of generations to come.’
Photo: Fodors Travel
Another small island but with high energy and effort for eco-friendliness. Much of the revenue for Malta comes from agritourism trips, experiences where you can see the land and learn traditional farming techniques from locals. And a superior train system makes it easy to travel between towns, so you can be sure to check out the capital’s beautiful architecture. Secret gardens and natural pools located throughout the island make for a cherry on top of an eco-friendly getaway.
Aside from the obvious reasons to visit France, they’ve got a pretty cool set up when it comes to the eco-friendly initiatives. Let’s start with the flying water taxis, or SeaBubbles. They use electric propulsion to glide across the water, emitting zero noise, zero CO2 emissions and zero disruptive waves. Then there’s La REcyclerie, an electric cultural centre in the heart of Paris that offers super cool, eco-friendly initiatives (like a flea market with a repair corner teaching easy DIY skills, a cooking workshop teaching seasonal recipes and various volunteer projects). I think the most impressive eco-friendly aspect of France are their street urinals; they make it look like you’re just peeing in a bush while also keeping the streets clean at the same time!
Photo: Visit Wales
So many pockets of the United Kingdom are known for and continue to establish a reputation of being eco-friendly. Nearby Wales, for instance, is home to the Centre for Alternative Technology, a sustainable community founded in the mid 1970s that features environmentally responsible buildings. Also they have this amazing water balanced cliff railway that overlooks crazy mountain and valley views. And then there’s the small Eigg Island that doesn’t need outside help from anyone to stay fully eco-friendly. The island is practically all electric and power operated by renewable sources of solar, hydroelectric and wind. They even said bye bye to diesel generators in 2008, thanks to Eigg Electric LTD.
So there you have it! For all you eco friendly travellers, I hope you find some great options for your travels this coming year :-). Share your favourite eco friendly destinations in the comments