25 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly When Visiting Scotland

Blog 25 Sep 2023

Scotland is a beautiful country, and every day both out on tour and in the office, we go above and beyond to make sure it stays that way for generations to come.

Nowadays, we are all a lot more concerned with the environment and sometimes it can be tricky to think how we can be eco-friendly whilst we are on holiday. As we care so much about the environment and do things every day to make sure we are protecting it, we thought we would put together a list of 25 ways to be more eco-friendly when you visit Scotland. Of course, you don't have to do them all, but even just doing one or two of them whilst you are here can help make a huge difference!

See It By Coach

One of the best ways to be eco-friendly whilst you are visiting Scotland is to head out on a tour with us! Seeing Scotland by coach is a great idea as rather than having multiple different carloads of people going to explore the country’s best bits, we can share a journey on one of our modern, air-conditioned coaches. This means less emissions, and also less strain on the roads, and local environments. Win win!

Donate to Trees for Life

Trees for Life are an organisation working hard to rewild the Scottish Highlands, and we are very proud to work with them and help. Every time you book a tour with us, there is an option to donate £1 to Trees for Life – think how much money we could raise for the Scottish forests if everyone did this. By supporting rewilding, you are helping preserve Scotland’s beauty for years to come, help offset carbon emissions, and providing a safe ecosystem for Scotland’s wildlife as well, all for far less than a cup of coffee!


Many of us recycle at home, and there’s no reason for this to stop when we visit Scotland. Many hotels and public areas have clear areas for recycling so it is super easy to help out when you are here. If you are staying in an Airbnb as well, there will often be recycling information for trash collection.

Visit a Second-Hand Shop

There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere and realising you’ve forgotten to pack an item of clothing, or you’ve packed for the wrong weather, which can be quite easy in Scotland with our changeable climate. Don’t rush to the shops for a new jacket though, check out some of the charity or second-hand shops here in Edinburgh for something pre-loved and give it a new home. That way, you are saving clothes from going to the landfill, and you’re not purchasing any brand-new clothes. Stockbridge in Edinburgh is a great place to find second hand clothes.

Visit Eco-Friendly Attractions

Another way to have an eco-friendly vacation is to visit eco-friendly attractions while you are here in Scotland. If you want to find these, many attractions now will have a Green Tourism award which are awarded to businesses and attractions that operate in greener ways thanks to advice from the organisation. So if you see an attraction with one of these awards, you can rest assured that they are making a conscious effort to be more eco-friendly.


We have a gold one by the way ?

Stay Somewhere Eco-Friendly

Much like the attractions, hotels can also get these awards. When booking and comparing your hotels, keep an eye out for this award as it will let you know that the hotel is making an effort to be more eco-friendly. Another option would be to book a hostel for your stay in Scotland. As you are sharing facilities like rooms and bathrooms, a lot less energy is being wasted as it is being shared between more people.

Use Eco-Friendly Toiletries

A lot of the time, your hotel will come with toiletries so you might not have to worry about bringing along shampoo or body wash. If you do though, a great eco-friendly alternative to the bottles are shampoo bars. These solid, compacted bars of shampoo work when activated with water and give you a great lather and clean your hair perfectly. They are super easy to transport and mean that you haven’t used any plastic bottles. You can also use a bar of soap rather than shower gel to help completely cut plastic out of your bath or shower routine.

Walk Around the Cities

The good thing about Scottish cities is that, while they are big compared to the towns and villages, none of them are too huge. That means that it is super easy to get around them and explore by foot. By doing this, you can cut down on your journeys in taxis or public transport and help reduce emissions. When you explore the cities by walking, you take things a bit slower, meaning you’re much more likely to stumble across a secret or something you wouldn’t have expected.

Bring a Reusable Bottle

One of the best investments you can make for a trip is a reusable water bottle. This is great for the environment as it means you don’t need to buy anymore plastic bottles. There are plenty of places to refill your bottle as well. You can even fill it up in the morning from your hotel room and you’re good to go for a day of exploring.

Bring a Reusable Coffee Cup

The other most important liquid for humans - coffee. As well as your refillable bottle, it’s a great idea to carry a reusable coffee cup with you. Most cafés and coffee shops will be more than happy to fill these up for you and sometimes, you can even get a wee discount for bringing your own cup, so you will save some pennies while you save the environment.

Bring Some Food Containers

If you want to experience some takeaways but want to help cut down on single-use plastics or food containers, you could always bring some along with you. There are some eco-friendly cafés and restaurants here in Scotland that promote doing that, some even offering discounts if you bring your own containers.

Bring a Shopping Bag

If you’re staying for a while, you might want to make a trip to the supermarket for some food and drink for your room, to fill up the cupboards of your Airbnb, or even get some snacks for your next Timberbush Tour. It would be a good idea to bring along a reusable bag to put all of this in as it saves you from having to use a plastic bag. Plus, it will save you a few extra pennies as you won’t need to pay for the plastic bag in the supermarket.

Buy Locally Made Products

Buying locally made products is a great way to be a bit more eco-friendly. This is due to the fact that these are made and produced in the area, and as such, often haven’t been affected by a lot of travel or transport emissions. Not only is this a great benefit, but you will also be supporting local businesses and often these businesses rely heavily on tourism. Plus, you’ll potentially be getting a great keepsake which will always remind you of your time in Scotland, or be a great gift for a loved one at home.

Eat Seasonal Food

One of the best ways to be a bit more eco-friendly with your food choices is to eat food that is in season. That means looking for fruit and vegetables that are grown locally and grow naturally at the time when you are eating. A lot of restaurants here in Scotland pride themselves on using local and in-season produce, so with a bit of research, you should be able to find some delicious meals!

Try Some Vegetarian Food

It’s a fairly well-known fact by now that trying to eat less meat can be great for the environment as there are a lot of emissions involved in animal farming. So when you’re here, try some local vegetarian dishes. For example, did you know you can get vegetarian haggis? It’s absolutely delicious and tastes super similar to the real thing. This is also a great option for you if the thought of what is really in haggis makes you a bit squeamish.

Stay on Trails and Paths

If you’re exploring the countryside, more often than not, there will be paths and trails laid out for you to help explore. It’s often a good idea to stick to these paths as they have been created by people that know the area, as well as this, it will keep any potential erosion or land damage to one specific area. If everyone goes exploring in different directions using different paths, it can lead to much wider spread damage to the environment.

Pack Sensibly

If you’re like me, it’s easy to want to pack an outfit for every possible occasion when you’re going on holiday. Or one for every possible weather condition. However, when we think about it, this probably isn’t the most sensible way to pack for a Scottish holiday and can leave you with a super heavy suitcase, which in turn, can lead to a heavier flight. The heavier a flight is, the more fuel is needed for it to fly. So if we all pack light, and pack only what we need, we could all help reduce the weights of these flights and help be a little more eco-friendly. I know it might seem like “oh, my little suitcase won’t make much of a difference”, but if we all started thinking about this and making more of an effort to pack lighter, it  definitely would make a difference.

Clean Up After Yourself

Scotland is a beautiful country, so we all have to make an effort to keep it that way. When out and about exploring, it’s super important to clean up after yourself. That means not leaving litter behind where it could potentially affect wildlife and the environment. If you are worried that you’re heading somewhere that might not have bins, if you were wild camping for example, be sure to take a bag to collect your litter so that you can properly dispose of it later.

See Other Cities by Train

If you are in Edinburgh for your tour but want to explore some other places that we don’t visit by tour, or experience the other cities, a great way to travel there is by rail. Scotland has a great rail service and from Edinburgh, you can go almost anywhere, like Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, or even further south. Whilst there are still some emissions, rail is a great eco-friendly way to travel.

Share a Journey

Met someone in your hotel that’s also going on the same tour as you the next day, why not share a taxi to the departure point in the morning? This way, you are minimising the journeys needed, meaning less emissions and helping the environment. This could also be a good idea if you have met someone out on tour and plan to do something similar when you get back to your departure city!

Stay Longer

This advice might be music to a lot of people’s ears. Yes, staying longer in Scotland can actually be more eco-friendly. If you are coming from overseas and having to fly to Scotland, if you come multiple times for short trips to tick off everything from your Scotland bucket list, you could end up causing more emissions from your multiple plane trips than you would for coming for a longer stay and potentially just using one return journey on the plane. This gives you a much longer time to get into the Scotland way of life and see all of the must-see stops!

Reduce Water Usage

As well as using a reusable bottle while you are here, it’s a good idea to try and reduce water usage as well. This can be as simple as turning the tap off while you are brushing your teeth, or choosing to have a shower instead of a bath in the evening.

Switch Lights Off

If you have a hotel, or an Airbnb, it can be tempting to have all the lights on and make it look like Blackpool Illuminations because you’re not paying the electricity bill. That’s not very eco-friendly though. So if you are leaving the room, or not in a certain room, be sure to turn the lights off after you head out and save on electricity.

Go Paperless

Understandably, when you’re here in Scotland, there will be a lot of attractions to tick off your list, and some travel as well. A great eco-friendly option is to always get e-tickets for these when you can. This means less paper being printed, and all of your tickets are in one place so you hopefully won’t lose any loose tickets. 

Eat In

When you get hungry and it’s time to sample some of Scotland’s food (read our guide to the 25 Scottish Foods and Drinks you need to try here), it can be tempting to get your food to go so you can keep enjoying the beautiful scenery. However, you could always consider sitting in for your food. That way, you will be using a plate and metal cutlery (depending on what you eat obviously) rather than potential single-use plastics or containers that might end up in the trash or left behind accidentally.