Summer is winding down, but there is time for one last trip before school starts.
If you are heading out for one more weekend trip, consider making your trip an ecofriendly experience. Many people hear the terms “green travel” or “ecotourism” and picture sleeping in a treehouse in the jungles of Borneo or canoeing the Amazon River. You don’t need to sacrifice creature comforts or go to the middle of nowhere to be a green traveler. All that is required is an effort to preserve and protect the environment at the place you are visiting — and it is easier than you might think.
With nearly 1 billion tourists annually crisscrossing the globe, it’s more important than ever for travelers to minimize their individual impacts on natural and cultural treasures. Taking a green approach to travel is an easy and essential way to protect the places you love to visit, not just for yourself but also for the travelers who come after you and for the people who will continue to live there long after you have flown home.
Whether you are traveling to a conference or an important meeting or taking the family to an island retreat or an amusement park, you can be conscious of your impact. Here are some green traveling tips from the Environmental Protection Agency:
Planning your trip
• Look for hotels and tours that carry environmentally friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations such as Green Seal or Green Leaf. Several organizations have developed standards to measure the environmental initiatives of hotels and tours. Standards vary depending on the organization. However, green hotels and tours include reductions in energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, institution of recycling programs, conservation of water either through installation of Energy Star products or by asking patrons to reuse towels and purchasing of organic foods.
• Select a hotel close to public transportation or near the places you are going to visit.
• When flying, book e-tickets. They reduce paper waste and make it less likely to lose your ticket.
Before you go
• Pull the plug on any unnecessary appliances such as TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters and microwaves. These items still can use energy in their off mode.
• Set your thermostat and water heater at low settings so that energy isn’t wasted.
• Stop your newspaper delivery or donate the paper to a school while you are gone.
While you are there
• If the hotel has an environmental program, participate as much as possible.
• Never leave lights on when you are not in the room.
• Lower the thermostat if you leave the room for long periods of time.
• If your destination is in a warm climate, close the drapes. If you have Venetian blinds, angle them up to bounce the sunlight off the ceiling. This will keep the room cooler. Conversely, let the sun warm your room during the day if you are in a cooler climate.
• Leave unused shampoo and soap in the hotel unless you are taking them home to use.
• Avoid room service and carry-out, which increase waste.
• Use water sparingly. In some places, it’s a scarce resource.
• Never buy items made from endangered species.
• Use public transportation or walk.
• Grab only maps and brochures you will use. If you are in a large travel group, share brochures.
• Never remove wildlife — such as shells, flowers and coral — from its natural environment.
• When hiking or camping, stay in marked areas to avoid destroying vegetation.
• Buy locally produced produce to reduce the pollution required to import goods.
When you come home
• Write a letter or email to your hotel or tour guide to tell them you appreciate their efforts to minimize the impact on the environment. This will encourage them to promote and institute more environmentally friendly activities.