Follow these easy eco-friendly tips to help the environment and maybe even save money.
By Kelsey B.
Eco-friendly travel or “traveling green” can mean different things to different people. Maybe you prefer to focus on clean eating by purchasing locally grown products when you’re on vacation, while someone else may choose to reduce their carbon footprint on the road by renting a hybrid car or only biking and walking once they reach their destination.
The truth is: you may not be able to travel green in every aspect, but personalizing your strategy is a great way to adjust to a new lifestyle change and ensure that you don’t just give up altogether. Even if you’re not interested in eco-friendly travel for environmental purposes, these tips will save you money and free up funds for the things you’re really interested in doing while on vacation!
Regardless of the ways you choose to live green, doing so while traveling doesn’t have to be a hassle. Determine the way that works best for you and make an effort each time you head off to a new destination!
If you like to eat clean and green:
- Buy local. Pick up fresh fruit and veggies at the local farmers market or eat at restaurants that use locally grown ingredients in their food.
- Resist the urge to get carry-out. Getting fast food or taking leftovers home with you creates more waste. If a restaurant serves large portions, share entrees to avoid taking doggie bags home with you, or cook your own meals when possible.
If you prefer green lodging:
- Look for Green Seal or Green Leaf certified hotels. As the popularity of green travel grows, so do the number of “green hotels.” If a hotel is Green Seal or Green Leaf certified, it means the daily operations are run with a certain sustainability strategy in mind. Green hotels focus on things like water and energy conservation, solid waste management, indoor air quality, building infrastructure, land use and community outreach. As you research lodging options, make sure to ask hotel management if they are green certified.
- Choose a hotel that recycles. Before you book your stay, check to see if your hotel recycles. Green certified or not, many hotels have recycling services so you can appropriately deposit the waste you have accumulated during your stay.
If you like to conserve energy:
- Before you leave home, make sure to lower your thermostat and water heater. This both conserves energy and saves you money.
- Turn off lights when you leave the hotel room for the day. Just like you do at home, make sure those lights are shut off and any microwaves or TVs are unplugged. Appliances like that still use energy when plugged in, even if they aren’t being used.
- Request that room service doesn’t wash your linens every day. If you’re only staying at a hotel for a few days, request that your sheets and towels are not washed daily. This will conserve water and energy.
- Walk, bike or use public transportation. Once you make it safely to your vacation destination, make an effort to walk or bike everywhere when possible. When it’s necessary to travel by car, use public transportation like buses or trains.
- Rent a hybrid car. Reduce your carbon emissions by renting a hybrid vehicle when you plan on driving long distances. A Toyota Prius produces about 55 percent less carbon dioxide than other vehicles of the same class with emission control devices, and it still provides the same comfort and a decent amount of trunk space for luggage.
If you strive to maintain a green lifestyle with your activities:
- Choose eco-friendly tour companies. Many companies support community sustainability initiatives or take extra steps to reduce its ecological footprint. If eco-friendly vacation activities are important to you, do the research and choose a company that stands for the same things you do.
- Leave nature the way you found it. When hiking, biking or walking, take as many photos as you want, but make sure to stay on marked trails to avoid destroying vegetation.
- When snorkeling, don’t shuffle the sediment around or touch the coral. Doing so can disturb the ecosystem.
- Don’t go brochure crazy. Only take the brochures that you know you’ll use. Even then, share with others if you’re traveling in a group.
- Book nonstop flights. The majority of carbon emissions are created during takeoff and landing, so avoid all the stops by booking nonstop flights when you can.
- Use electronic tickets. Whenever possible, check-in with electronic tickets instead of printing them out on paper.
- Pack lightly. The more weight a car, plane or train has to carry, the more fuel it uses to transport you and your luggage.
- Forego the plastic water bottles. Consider using reusable bottles to reduce waste.
Making small changes to your normal travel routine can really make a big difference. If you’re interested in finding out just how big your carbon footprint is, visit The Nature Conservancy online and use the carbon footprint calculator to measure your individual impact on the climate.