Travelers are increasingly interested in maintaining green travel practices. Whether you’re determined that every facet of your trip should be as environmentally responsible as possible or you simply want a few greener alternatives, you have plenty of Earth-friendly choices to make.
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Obviously, this means not harming the natural world, but it can also mean respecting the culture of the people who inhabit your destination.
When visiting foreign lands, take the time to study cultural nuances before leaving home. This will enable you to travel more respectfully and responsibly.
You’ll also be aware of any points of contention or behaviors to avoid. You’ll know not to buy souvenirs that are made using the skin or feathers of local endangered species and you’ll be able to order special local dishes that you simply can’t get anywhere else.
When you consider green travel possibilities, you probably envision unspoiled natural settings and visits to farmers markets where organic produce is available. These are both marvelous options, but it’s possible to choose environmentally friendly travel even in the midst of the urban jungle.
Try to visit urban gardens that promote sustainable practices, and look for restaurants that serve menu items featuring locally sourced ingredients. Instead of driving around the city, consider using the mass transit system instead. Many metropolitan areas boast hybrid buses and eco-friendly train and subway systems. Getting around this way definitely leaves a smaller carbon footprint than renting a car.
The tourism organizations in many popular destinations have recognized the importance of green travel. Accordingly, many of them have developed web pages devoted to promoting environmentally responsible travel in the area. Look for these websites before embarking on your trip.
They contain helpful information about locating LEED certified hotels. They may also point you in the direction of tour operators who have demonstrated a commitment to greener practices. Additionally, these websites typically highlight local attractions that feature education and innovation of an eco-conscious nature.
Local science and technology museums can be wonderful places to explore the cutting edge of Earth-friendly practices.
Greener travel can be as simple as choosing to reuse your hotel towels or making certain that you turn off the lights and heat before you leave the room each morning. However, it is possible to venture deeper into the world of eco-tourism by making even more environmentally-conscious decisions.
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Green Tips for Travel Making a Difference
The smallest decisions make the greatest impact and the same goes with green living but making green decisions doesn’t stop when you travel. Every individual is responsible for helping sustain mother earth, conserving natural resources and eliminating waste, whether at home or on the road.
Here are five green travel tips to lighten your global footprint around the world…
Book eco-friendly accommodations
Green accommodations usually are locally owned, hire local staff, have recycling programs, minimize waste (e.g. not washing sheets and towels daily and using energy efficient lighting), and give back to the community.
If you can’t find an eco-friendly hotel, you can still do your part by:
- skipping daily maid service that wastes electricity and water for cleaning,
- turning off lights, the TV and AC when not in use,
- taking shorter showers,
- turning off the water when brushing your teeth, and
- avoiding hotel laundry.
When you pack fewer items, you’ll save on extra baggage fees, increase airplane fuel-efficiency and reduce water waste when doing laundry. Quick drying fabrics can be worn multiple times and are easy to wash in the sink.
Explore all transportation options
According to Seat61.com, “Taking the train… instead of flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger… by a staggering 90%.”
To reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel waste:
- take the train instead of flying,
- book non-stop flights (if you have to fly),
- use public transportation (e.g., metro, subway, bus, train, etc),
- rent an economy or hybrid vehicle, and
- walk or ride your bike.
Reduce, recycle and re-use
Just as you would at home, it’s important to reduce, recycle and re-use while traveling. Some travel specific ideas are:
- Using refillable water bottles at the airport, hotel or restaurants,
- Using one bar of soap for the sink and shower and one towel for your body and hands,
- Recycling trash in recycle bins (ask if you can’t find one), and
- Returning tourist brochures and maps.
Eat and shop locally
To support local business and communities, shop from and eat at locally owned businesses. Buy environmentally friendly goods that aren’t made from endangered species (e.g. turtle shells), non-sustainable hardwoods, or historic artifacts.
Immerse yourself in and respect local culture by learning new customs and sustainability ideas while you travel.