An average American who takes one or two trips abroad, emits 19,841 pounds of carbon per year. Here are 10 valuable green travel tips that make it easy to balance environmental concerns with travel and workday realities from Michelle White, corporate manager of environmental affairs for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
1. Make how you travel as important as why you travel. When determining your mode of transportation, always consider the distance. Often it makes sense to use mass transit as opposed to private vehicles, but if cars are on your agenda, try renting a hybrid. In Washington, D.C., California, and other states, look for EV Rentals, which has an entire fleet of hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape.
2. Before you board, consider the impact. An average American who takes one or two trips abroad, emits 19,841 pounds of carbon a year. If everyone in the world emitted this much carbon, we would need 2 1/2 planets to support us all. (Source: Guardian Unlimited Feb. 8, 2001). To mitigate the effects, consider carbon offsets, which can be purchased from organizations such as Sustainable Travel International’s My ClimateTM Program.
3. Stay green. Choose accommodations known for their environmental policies and programs. These facilities strive to reduce the consumption of resources through such initiatives as recycling, energy efficient lighting, and water-saving devices in guest bathrooms.
4. Shop with your head. When on the road, seek out local food and crafts. Be careful with your souvenir selections and never buy those made from endangered plants or animals. Use reusable bags or totes and take only as many brochures and maps as you really need for your sightseeing jaunts.
5. Have a whale of a time. If you are lucky to have an extra day to relax and unwind, be sure to incorporate eco activities. Many properties feature special programs that make it easy to be a friend to the Earth while having fun. Look for packages that provide access to attractions, such as zoos, aquariums, and walking tours–they support the efforts of local organizations and are a great value for guests.
6. Eat local. Patronize local restaurants. Order regional wines and beers. Choose seasonal specials instead of “flown in fresh daily.” It’s amazing to think that the average meal travels approximately 1,500 miles before it reaches your table.
7. Green your meeting. Green meetings are becoming increasingly common, and planners can easily incorporate simple tactics to make functions more eco-friendly. Fairmont has designed Eco-Meet, a green meeting and conference planning option featuring disposable-free service, Eco Adventure activities, themed meeting breaks, and Sustainable Gourmet menus including organic wines such as California’s Bonterra Vineyards.
8. Little things mean a lot. When traveling, consider resource consumption the same way you would at home. Turn off lights before you leave the room, use air conditioning wisely, and ask yourself if you really do need sheets and towels changed everyday.
9. Think about it from the cellular level. Given their ever-shrinking size, you might not consider your cell phone a waste stream problem. But with an average cell ownership lifespan of just 18 months (upgrades for the latest model have skyrocketed with plan switches and trendy photo phones), the millions of cells in use worldwide, and the fact that they contain plastic, lead, nickel, cadmium, and fire retardants, we really are talking trash. Commit to making a good call–buy the phone that you need, own it as long as possible, and consider donating it to charity after you’re done with it.
10. Recognize green efforts. Provide feedback to the businesses that you think are doing great work. Applaud their efforts by passing along compliments to owners, managers, and staff. And don’t be afraid to provide suggestions. Guest comments are a great way to streamline operational programs.
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