How to plan for an eco-friendly holiday in East Anglia
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Do we still have far to travel when it comes to understanding what makes an environmentally-friendly holiday? In a way no, as the answer is right on your doorstep. Taking your break in East Anglia can be a trip in tune with the planet.
Leave nothing but footprints’ has long been the maxim of the eco-minded explorer. To minimise your effect on the environment it is best to tread as lightly as possible when it comes to your carbon footprint.
A big chunk of our carbon emissions come from taking aeroplane flights when we go on holiday.
One long haul return flight can produce more carbon dioxide per passenger than the average UK motorist in one year.
Best then to keep your feet on the ground and choose a local destination for your trip away. East Anglia, with its mild climate, stunning landscapes, inspiring heritage and miles of coastline, has so much to offer holidaymakers and there are many hotels, campsites, restaurants, tourist attractions and even music festivals that share your green awareness so your time away can be spent in tune with the planet.
So, you have ditched the aeroplane this year?
That’s a good start. Here’s six more ways you can ensure an eco-friendly holiday in East Anglia.
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1. Before you leave
Pack light. The more weight your car has to carry, the more fuel it uses – and this means the volume of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere also increases. Before you leave home, remember to unplug all your electronic devices to avoid wasting energy. Unplug your TV sets and turn down the temperature setting in your refrigerator.
2. Use the car to get you there and get back
Attach the family bikes to your car or bring good walking shoes. Exploring the area on foot or on two wheels will give you a far better feel for the place you visit. Norfolk offers the Sustrans National Cycle Network, using old railway paths, forest tracks, country parks, bridleways and quiet minor roads for fun, safe and simple journeys.
More adventurous cyclists can take on the ancient Peddars Way from the heaths of the Brecks to the north Norfolk coast, or take the Norfolk Coastal Cycleway, while walkers have the Norfolk coast path, which runs from Hunstanton to Sea Palling.
In Suffolk, coastal areas such as Dunwich and Minsmere offer a great choice of cycle paths, both off and on road, with plenty of welcoming pubs and cafes along the way for refuelling.
As long as you find accommodation within easy reach of these trails you won’t need your car once you’ve arrived.
3. Be a responsible guest
Respect the local environment by sticking to footpaths, leaving plants or stones where they are, picking up your litter and then separating recyclable and non-recyclable items when disposing of it.
If you are staying at a hotel or holiday home, when you leave your room, turn off all lights, heating or air conditioning and the television.
Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door for the duration of your stay, which cuts down on chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens. All pretty small, straightforward stuff, yes – but a big impact if done en masse.
4. Sustaining stays
There are a great number of hotels, holiday homes and camp sites in East Anglia which are embracing sustainability with waste treatment systems, LED lighting, recycling programmes, energy efficiency initiatives and even the use of solar energy or hydroelectric power.
You can check a hotel’s green credentials at Tripadvisor’s sustainable hotel programme, GreenLeaders, or there are a number of hotels in the region which have been awarded Suffolk Carbon Charter awards recognising their carbon reduction measures. For a full list of recognised businesses, visit www.greensuffolk.org/charter/holders
5. Green screen your entertainment
It is possible to find a good choice of excursions for your holiday to destinations which share your concern for the environment. Norfolk is home to the UK’s first eco-friendly adventure park, Bewilderwood, in Wroxham, and there are plenty of nature reserves protecting the habitats of birds and wildlife such as Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, which also has an outdoor play area for youngsters, and Cley Nature Reserve, to visit.
One of the best ways to stay vigilant about protecting the world around you is to start enjoying it. In June, Suffolk has the Folk East music festival, a family-friendly festival which was last year awarded a Suffolk Carbon Charter Gold Award for its efforts to minimise its carbon footprint that include solar powered music stages and all food stalls working with locally supplied produce.
6. Cut back on your food miles
Norfolk and Suffolk are a foodie’s dream, so it should be no hardship to skip the supermarkets and eat seasonal fresh produce during your stay.
The greater the distance the food has to travel to get to your plate, the greater the carbon emissions so grab your Cromer crab, Brancaster mussels, samphire fresh picked from mudflats, artisan cheeses and ale from Adnams or the many microbreweries to savour the taste of East Anglia and support your local farms and fishermen. Check out farmers’ markets to purchase supplies for a picnic lunch, and choose souvenirs from local artisans and vendors.