ZWH: Sustainable Travel Guide

Isabella Escamilla, Zero Waste Humboldt Intern

Over the past decade, the United States has made greater efforts towards sustainability, but still faces many challenges. According to, “The US has the world’s largest economy and the world’s second-largest carbon footprint after China.” Thankfully, there are many other sustainable, eco-friendlier countries worth visiting and supporting other than the US.

Currently, there are countries that have made significant efforts towards prioritizing and implementing environmental sustainability. An example of this is Iceland, known for its commitment to renewable energy. It harnesses its geothermal and hydroelectric resources for abundant energy usage. The country is also proactive in sustainable fisheries management and has strict regulations for preserving its ecosystems. The Icelandic Pledge asks visitors to promise to respect nature during their stay. 

In addition to Iceland, Sweden has a strong focus on renewable energy, with a significant portion of its electricity generated from sources like hydropower and wind power. According to, “Sweden is very involved in green initiatives such as preserving the Arctic ice and permafrost to help stop climate change, and aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.” 

Finland has made impressive strides in renewable energy, waste management, and conservation efforts. By actively promoting circular economy principles and sustainable forestry practices, it is a great place to support while traveling. Its sustainable practices are shown through its air and water generally being considered among the clearest in the world. 

In addition to Finland, Switzerland also focuses on renewable energy, waste management, and biodiversity conservation. As a country, it has made investments in energy-efficient buildings and has numerous hydroelectric power plants harnessing the energy of Swiss rivers. It has also implemented effective waste separation and recycling programs, achieving high recycling rates for various materials. 

Bhutan is an isolated Buddhist kingdom nestled high in the Himalayas. It is the only carbon neutral country in the world! It tries to maintain this neutrality by keeping visitor numbers low for fear that the onslaught of tourists will spoil the land. With this being said, a large number of people visiting frequently might not be the best option. Today, only those who have booked guided itineraries through approved operators can enter. Nonetheless it is important to have this extremely sustainable country on your radar. Bhutan is committed to remaining carbon neutral and has banned the sale of plastic bags.

Each of these countries offer unique experiences and opportunities to witness conservation efforts and enjoy the natural beauty they strive to protect.