Vacations are the time to cut loose and kick up our heels, and welcome the break from our usual routine. Just remember to bring the best of your eco-consciousness with you when you prepare to travel.
The key issue, as always is energy, as in fossil fuels: how to consume less and waste none. Reducing or offsetting the carbon footprint associated with travel begins when you pick up the phone to book your flight.
Choose a carrier with a green consciousness. For instance, Southwest Airlines was the first US-domestic carrier to offer electronic ticketing and to recycle all cabin trash. Both strategies reduce paper waste and offset the energy used by the carrier to purchase disposable cabin supplies. Also, consider making a small donation to a green group like The Conservation Fund when you book via Travelocity or Delta, to offset the carbon emissions created by your trip.
Likewise, choose your accommodations with green-mindedness. Book your room via Green Hotel Association to enjoy travel which supports eco-conscious hospitality.
Wherever you stay, let the staff know that you don’t need fresh linens every day, since laundering requires tremendous energy. As you prepare to leave, be sure to turn appliances at home significantly down to minimum settings, including air conditioning, heat, lights.
Bring your own toiletries and reusable drinking cup rather than using the prepackaged amenities provided by the hotel. Whenever possible, fly non-stop—stops require more energy. When you arrive, avoid renting a car. Local mass-transit supports the community economy, and it’s a great way to get a feel for where you are.
Buy locally grown food for the same reason—avoid buying imported items. Record your experiences with a digital, not disposable camera—you’ll be creating less to recycle. When you leave your room, turn lights, heat and A/C off.
For more green travel tips, visit carbonfund.org