The Carbon Pirates Roadtrip

Challenge: to travel and live as sustainably as possible as we travel from London to Spain.

We both love to work and travel. We also believe in climate change. So, before getting ready for our next adventure we wondered how, as travelling individuals, we could be more sustainable and what changes we could make to help reduce our carbon footprint.

We want to make it really clear that this is a challenge, and not a preach to others about how “fabulously sustainable” we are. We are not. Living sustainable can be really hard as well as a total mind field of information, especially when on the move. This is why we have decided to set ourselves the challenge – to be conscious of our decisions, to see what easy changes we can make to our lifestyles, to see which changes are hard to make, to share tips with you and more importantly to hear what suggestions you may have for us, to help us live even more sustainable. Post your suggestions in the comments section below.

Changes we made to live and
travel more sustainable…

Solar panels

Charging your phone with the car cigarette lighter can use up to 6% of your petrol so we decided to keep to use a portable solar panel charger for €20 on Amazon

Carbon Pirate Tip: Always keep the solar panels in view, so you easily remember to put them out as soon as the sun is out.

Reusable bags

Plastic bags are made from oil and used on average for just 20 minutes, take years to decompose. Instead we use reusable shopping and produce bags made from 100% cotton.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Keep them in your handbag so you always have them on you and pay attention when ordering over a counter or when at the checkout. If you don’t your items will be put into plastic or paper bags.


We had two garbage bags. One for food waste and one for plastic, paper and glass. We would then wait until we passed any recycle bins and then empty the bags into the relevant bins.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Keep an eye out for recycling bins. There are far more out there than you may initially think. Keep hold of your trash until you find one.

Driving technique

We cannot always prevent the emissions of CO2; but by being mindful of how we drive we can do our best to keep it to a minimum. We aimed to limit our revs, shifted up to higher gears when possible and tried to limit our breaking.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Read in more detail about how we adjusted our driving in order to save petrol and limit our pollution. Read more about driving sustainable.

Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles take over 1,000 years to bio-degrade! Instead we bought a reusable bottle to fill up from the tap. Any bottles we did buy due to undrinkable tap water, we reused for drinking, cooking and washing and then recycled.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Buy a bottle that you actually like. We found if you like the design of the bottle then you’re much more likely to carry it around and use it.


We try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and we offset for when we do emit. Driving from London to Tarifa we emitted 1.0342 tonnes of carbon. We offset this by donating €10 to the Amazon Forest Protection Project by Stand for Trees.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Offsetting is not expensive but makes a big difference. Read more about Carbon Offsetting and start today.


Carpooling is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint – reducing the number of cars on the roads and therefore carbon emissions. This is Nav – who we drove from Barcelona to Granada.

Carbon Pirate Tip: BlaBla Car is a great carpooling platform. Try using it next time you are travel – whether you’re looking to catch a ride or offering a lift. It’s also a great way to meet people.


We had limited storage space in the car so every item needed to be considered and useful. We only brought what we absolutely needed for sleeping, cooking, washing and clothes.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Before buying a new item ask yourself “can i live without this?” If the answer is ‘yes’ (which it usually is) then put it back.

Purchase power

As consumers we must vote with our purchases. Instead of buying these strawberries packaged in tons of plastic, buy on a local market with your own container.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Look for alternative products that use less or no packaging. In case packaging is needed try to bring your own and make sure the shop owner uses it. This goes for food, drinks and basically anything.


More than 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded each day and that is just in the USA. Many of these straws also end up in the ocean. Instead we bought reusable straws made from stainless steel.

Carbon Pirate Tip: When you ask for a drink make sure you ask your waitor not to include a straw. Not always easy to remember at first but it soon becomes a new habit.


One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the USA. Most of those toothbrushes either end up floating in the ocean where they can damage ecosystems or filling up giant landfills. Instead we bought toothbrushes made from Bamboo, a fast growing, sustainable and biodegradable material.

Eat local

We tried to shop local as much as possible. We would target independent fruit and veg shops and try to choose only seasonable produce. We even found a lemon field where we took lemons that had already fallen from the tree, avoiding food waste.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Try to avoid supermarkets and instead support local and independent shops.


As a designer Alisa gets through quite a bit of paper when sketching. Instead of using a paper notebook, which would normally only last a few weeks, we swapped for a reusable whiteboard notebook.

Carbon Pirate Tip: You can buy these from .

Ferry over flying

Short flights are terrible polluters, so Alisa chose to travel by Ferry from the UK to France. A flight would have emitted 0.07 tonnes of Carbon. The ferry was 0.001 tonnes of Carbon.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Remember that travelling is about the journey and not always about the end destination. Enjoy the ride and be open to new experiences and people.

Reusable coffee cups

Coffee on the road is almost an essential, but instead of slurping it from one time use paper cups why not take a resuable one? We carried our metal cups which we used over and over again. Extra benefit, it stays nice and warm for a much longer time.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Ask the people in the shop to directly put it into your cup, and keep an eye out if they really do.

City transport

When in cities we chose to use bikes over buses and the metro.

Carbon Pirate Tip: Not only a carbon free way to travel, but also a much better way to explore a city.

Climate Change March, Geneva

While we were in Geneva the People’s Climate Change March was on so we decided to stay an extra day and attend. The aim of the march was to call attention to the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, which continues its attacks on the climate and the environment.

Carbon Pirate Tip: If you are unable to attend marches you can still show your support by joining online movements like

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