Traveling Green: Easy Tips for Environmentally Conscious Travel
Oct 23, 2019
You don't have to go to a jungle to rescue orangutans to travel 'green', but you can easily leave less of an environmental footprint behind when traveling.
The recent rage in 'eco-tourism', or traveling in ways that support the natural environment and local people, has made some folks nervous. They think they need to go to Costa Rica and save the sea turtles in order to qualify as 'green' travelers. Not true.
While the more labor-intensive volunteer excursions are wonderful experiences for some, they're not for everyone. Many people take vacations to relax and get away from the stresses of everyday life, and they don't want to have to worry about the environment while they're gone.
Lessening environmental impact while traveling doesn't need exertion or self-sacrifice, and it can make you feel you're doing something to help while kicking back on the beach. A report of Green Hotels Association quotes a US Travel Data Center survey that 43 million American travelers are 'ecologically concerned'. People care but don't know what to do.
Green travel essentially means travel that is concerned with protecting the environment and the culture of the places one visits. This can be achieved in many ways, from the simple to the more complex. Some of the ways we can be greener travelers are mentioned further.
Before You Leave on Your Trip
★ Turn off or unplug all appliances in your home; some can pull up to 40 watts per hour even if turned off.
★ Turn down temperature of thermostat and water heaters.
★ Temporarily interrupt your newspaper service or donate it to a local school.
★ Turn off water connection.
★ Use electronic tickets for airline flights.
★ Buy carbon emissions offsets. By paying small extra fee while traveling by air, for example, carbons emissions by your flight (which can be equal to one person's fuel use of SUV for a month) can be offset with the organization's contributing to sustainable energy in other areas as solar heating, wind power.
★ Opt for a hybrid rental car.
★ Choose a 'green' hotel or ecolodge. These are accommodations with goals to preserve environment and reduce waste. They use 100% solar power for hotels, automatically turn off appliances when guests leave, have low-flow toilets and recycling bins in rooms, use local organic products, and employ staff of local community.
While At Your Destination
★ Tell hotel staff you don't need your linens changed every day. Many hotels employ a system to only replace used towels in guest rooms to avoid excessive laundry.
★ Re-use the plastic cups in hotel rooms, or bring your own re-usable cups and utensils.
★ When leaving the room, turn off all lights and appliances, and turn down the heat or A/C.
★ Bring and use your own toiletries during your trip, reducing the need for excessive packaging of small lotions, shampoos, etc.
★ Take short showers and turn off the water when brushing teeth.
★ Take public transportation or walk whenever possible―many local sightseeing tours are walking tours.
★ When hiking, stay on marked trails, and follow any posted rules about campfires, trash receptacles, and interaction with local animals.
★ Whenever possible, buy local and locally grown products.
★ Avoid disposable cameras, which contribute to waste.
★ Respect local wildlife and local native culture.
★ Avoid buying anything made of endangered species, such as tortoise shells, ivory, rare animal skins, etc. Many of these are made only for the tourist trade, and if not supported, won't be sustained.
These efforts to reduce environmental impact are not disruptive to a vacation and can help greatly to reduce pollution and interference with local environment. Most people are concerned with the earth's condition and can continue to help even when on vacation. As the old saying goes, take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.