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'Green' tips for summer vacation
Keep Liberty County Beautiful
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I know most of us are not usually thinking about environmental issues when we are planning our vacations. It seems like that might complicate all the packing and preparations even more, right? Well, maybe not.
When I first began a search after I chose this topic, I was not sure I would find enough information for a column, but I was shocked. I may still be writing about this by the time you have finished your vacation this summer.
The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates there are about 43 million U.S. travelers who consider themselves “ecologically concerned.” I hope you are one of them.  
Here are some handy tips from the state of Michigan’s Web site, and a great little book on recycling, “It’s Easy Being Green,” by Crissy Trask.
Book your lodging in environmentally friendly or “green” establishments. It is amazing how much information you can get on eco-friendly vacation locations on the Internet. It seems like everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon. There are also television channels like HGTV and the Fine Living Channel that periodically highlight green vacation options.
Purchase electronic tickets for air travel when possible.
Book a working vacation that will benefit the environment in some way or consider a vacation using non-motorized forms of recreation, like walking tours or biking.  
If you are camping, do not take souvenirs from natural areas and historical areas, like rocks, flowers, etc. Leave the campsite and any parks better than you found them. Leave only your footprint. Take all trash out with you and dispose of it properly. Do not burn or bury garbage of any kind. Protect campsite water sources from any contamination by never washing dishes, clothes or even yourself in them. Use a basin and biodegradable soap. Dump any wastewater at least 25 yards from any waterways. Keep campfire ash as far from waterways as possible as well.
Gas boats up on land when you can and always use a funnel when refueling your boat from a gas can to prevent spills. Going fishing? Use non-lead sinkers to protect wildlife from lead poisoning. Also remember fishing line can be recycled. Upgrade to the most efficient boat motor, if possible. A four-stroke engine is 40 times cleaner and two to four times more fuel-efficient than a two-stroke engine.
If you will be using an RV or some other type of low-mpg vehicle, consider offsetting its gas usage and emissions by renting or driving an ultra-low emissions vehicle for local and everyday driving. Have you considered purchasing a hybrid? More models are being introduced every year. My brother bought a Honda this year and loves it. As soon as someone introduces a hybrid convertible, I will make my purchase too. But I am waiting for that. Convertibles have been part of my everyday life therapy for more than 20 years now, so I can’t change now.
When you check into a hotel, let housekeeping know you will not need your linens and towels changed daily. Foregoing those fresh sheets and towels each day can save as much as 30 gallons of water. When you leave your hotel room, turn off any lights, television and other electrical appliances that you can.  Leave the little unopened bottles of hotel amenities — you know, the shampoos, the conditioners, the lotions, etc. This is a hard one for me. It is almost a compulsion for me to take those little things. Reduce paperwork and time by electronically checking out.
Here are a few other ways to be an eco-tourist:
Take only the brochures and maps you need from the tourist racks.  
Avoid using disposable cameras that are expensive and wasteful.  
Use 36-shot rolls of film or go digital, if possible.  
Protect endangered species by not purchasing products such as tortoise shell, ivory, and certain types of animal skins and feathers.
Participate in any hotel recycling programs.
And set an example by picking up at least one piece of litter every day.
Why, the whole world would look as clean as Disney World if we all did that. Enjoy your easy, green vacation.
For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact me at 368-4888 or
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