With climate change, vanishing ozone, rising sea levels and the endangerment of the world’s cuddliest creatures, the need to be environmentally responsible now extends beyond fringe scientists, trendy celebrities and campaigning American presidents. More and more travelers are going green by minimizing their travel footprint. For travelers who’d like to become more enviro-friendly, here are some basic tips on reducing your impact while on the road:
1) Airplane take-offs and landings are some of the biggest carbon-emission culprits. Take direct flights to cut down on those global warming -contributing CO2s.
2) When possible, look for alternative forms of transportation (train, bus, car-pool, sailboat or piggy back should do the trick)
3) Turn off the lights and air conditioning when you leave your hotel room. Unplug all the appliances when you’re not using them. Turn down the thermostat by a few degrees.
4) Conserve water with shorter showers and opt out of having your towels and bed sheets washed daily.
5) Bring your own soaps, creams and toiletries, instead of using those disposable plastic amenities provided by the hotel.
6) Don’t buy tourist souvenirs made from animals, shells or plant products.
7) Cut down on waste by bringing re-chargeable batteries.
8) Research carbon offset programs before you pay. GoGreenTravelGreen.com shares their list of12 things you need to know about carbon offset programs and the controversy behind them. Here are a few of their tips:
– Organizations that offer carbon offsets are not exclusively non-profits. Do your research before you give money.
– Look for companies that adhere to the Gold Standard, this is an internationally recognized carbon credit label.
For similar tips and a list of recommended companies that offer carbon offset programs, check out: http://gogreentravelgreen.com/green-travel-101/12-things-you-need-to-know-about-carbon-offsets-25-days-to-green-travel-day-11/
9) Stay in an eco-friendly hotel. Before booking, ask the following questions:
– Does the hotel have environmental policies or programs?
– How does management try to reduce their consumption and conserve energy? (ie. do they use alternative energy sources like solar or wind power? Are there low-flow showerheads to reduce water use? Do they source locally-grown organic vegetables, etc.)
– What have they done for the local people in nearby communities or for wildlife conservation in their area?
– How do they treat their waste water? (are they pumping out waste into the ocean?)
Responsible travel.com lists more questions to ask. Click their “Places To Stay” tab for a list of eco-accommodations: http://www.responsibletravel.com/Copy/Copy101994.htm
10) Pick the right tour operator. Look for a company who runs small tour groups, boasts a strong enviro-policy and support locally-run enterprises. Ask them the same style of questions listed above.
Ask them how many local people they employ (from management positions to on-the-ground guides.) A good company will work with people who live in the community and know the nuances of the culture. G.A.P (www.gapadventures.com), Intrepid (www.intrepidtravel.com) and Earth Watch (www.earthwatch.org) offer tourist activities that put a high priority on conservation, sustainable tourism and socially-conscious service.
Leave a comment below with your own ‘green’ travel tip!