If you’re traveling on business, visiting friends or going on going on an international adventure, you could be hurting the environment. Don’t worry; you don’t have to cancel your plans. There are many easy ways for you to reduce your environmental impact! Here are some Eco-Friendly travel tips taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that we can all try to use before, during and after our vacation.
Planning Your Trip
Look for hotel accommodations and tours that carry environmental 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 reducing energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, instituting recycling programs, conserving water either through installation of energy star products or by asking patrons to reuse towels and by purchasing local organic foods. When hotels and tours meet these standards, they are certified as “green.”
Select a hotel close to public transportation or near the places you are going to visit during your stay.
When flying, book electronic tickets. It reduces paper waste and you are less likely to lose your ticket.
Before You Go
Pull the plug on any unnecessary appliances - such TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters, and microwaves. These items can still use energy in their off mode.
Set your thermostat and water heater at low settings so that energy isn't wasted while you are gone.
Stop your newspaper or donate the paper to a school while you are gone.
When You’re There
If the hotel has an environmental program, participate as much as possible. If you have any questions about how, simply ask when you check in.
Never leave lights on when you are not in the room.
Lower the thermostat when you leave the room for long periods of time.
If your destination is a warm climate then close the drapes. Or, 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 up your room during the day if you are in a cooler climate.
Leave unopened shampoo, soap, and other items in the hotel unless you are taking it home to use.
Avoid room service and carry-out which increase waste.
Use water sparingly. In some places this is a very scarce resource.
Never buy items made from endangered species.
Walk or use public transportation.
Grab only the maps and brochures that you will actually use. If in a large group, share brochures whenever possible.
Take pictures and leave the location as you found it. Never remove wildlife from it’s natural environment including shells, flowers and coral.
When hiking or camping, stay only in marked areas to avoid destroying vegetation.
Buy locally produced produce in order to reduce the pollution required to import goods.
When You Come Home
Write a letter or e-mail to your hotel or tour guide telling them that you appreciate their efforts to minimize the impact on the environment. This will encourage them to promote and institute more environmentally friendly activities.
If you use these travel tips you can have a great time on your vacation without feeling guilty about your travels. As we all know, the more people who are invested into the environment, the stronger and cleaner it will be.
If you have any other suggestions for eco-friendly travel, please let us know!