Green Travel Tips

Do you leave small footprints while you travel? More and more hotels are stepping up and making the protection of the environment a priority for travelers.

The California Green Lodging Program provides the dirty on the hotels industry:
• Average-sized hotels purchase more products in one week than 100 families do in a year.
• Waste generation can be as high as 30 pounds per room per day.
• Hospitality industry spends $3.7 billion a year on energy. Electricity use accounts for 60-70 percent of the utility costs of a typical hotel.
• Two percent of California’s food waste comes from the hotel and lodging industry (112,000 tons per year).
• Typical hotels use 218 gallons of water per day per occupied room.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, here’s some tips for greening up your travel from Green Hotels.

Before you leave home:
• Turn water heater to “Vacation” or lowest setting.
• Turn off AC/heat or adjust the thermostat to protect plants, etc.
• Turn water off at outside connection (to prevent flooding should a pipe break while you’re gone). When you return, turn on the water slowly and check for problems.
• Appliances, such as TVs and cable converter boxes, should be unplugged because they can draw or “leak” as much as 40 watts per hour even when they’re off.
• Turn icemaker off (lift wire) to prevent flooding should it break while you’re away.
• Lower the temperature of waterbed heaters at least ten degrees. 
 Stop your newspaper. You may be able to donate it to a school.
• Purchase electronic-tickets for airline travel whenever possible. Less waste. If paper tickets are lost, they may cost $75-100 to have replaced.

While you are traveling:
• Enjoy walking tours.
• Use public transportation when available.
• Use the hotel van instead of renting a car.
• Use the bus or local transit system.
• Share taxis. Less pollution, and you can leave the driving to others.
• If you’re driving, turn your motor off when idling. Encourage tour/bus drivers to turn the motor off when idling.

Hotel Stays:
• Participate in hotel linen programs, or let the hotel know that it’s not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day.
• To keep track of which towel belongs to which family member, pack a handful of safety pins and small colored beads. Attach a pin and bead to each towel, using a designated color for each family member. Remove the pins before checkout.
• Reduce the amount of water used for bathing or showering. 
 When you leave your hotel room, turn off the AC/heat, lights, TV and radio. Close the drapes.
• Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins.
• Carry a bag with you to carry dirty laundry home.
• Leave little bottles of amenities in the guestroom if unopened.
• Pack a permanent marker and write each person’s name on the cups in the hotel bathroom.
• Keep bar soap wrappers and take used bars of soap home.
• Let hotel management know, by speaking directly to management or writing them a note, that you want them to conserve and that you want to participate.
• Patronize hotels, airlines, tour operators who support “greening” programs.
• Instead of leaving bathroom lights (and fans) on all night, pack nightlights for hotel stays.
• If the hotel provides complimentary newspapers, pass yours on to someone else, or leave it in the lobby for another reader. Ask the hotel to see that it’s recycled.
• Be sure to turn off exercise equipment, sauna, whirlpool, Jacuzzi or tennis court lights when you’re through.
• Check out of the hotel via the hotel’s electronic program available on the TV in some hotels. You can view your bill, approve it, and help reduce paperwork.

How do you green your travel?

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.



Jo S.
Jo S2 years ago

Thank you Ronnie.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Sonia Minwer-Barakat Requ
Sonia M4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Patricia H.
Patricia H4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Heather D.
Heather D6 years ago

We try to participate in the hotel waste reduction program (not having the sheets and towels changed daily); the way I look at it, we use our towels and sheets multiple days before washing them at home, so why should it be any different at a hotel?

Inez Deborah Altar

Well when I was in Mongolia I never washed myself and left unused the soaps, and toothpastes they kept presenting me with and never had the bed-linen washed and walked as much as was advisable given the volume of pedestrians

Andrea M.
Andrea M6 years ago

I always participate in the hotels water reduction programs (leave towels on floor if need them changed, otherwise hang back on rack), and I use e-tickets 99% of the time. The other information in this article is great. I think I'll print it up (and then recycle the paper-double sided of course! =) ) and use it on my next vacation!

Nikki Rose
Nikki Rose7 years ago

For those that asked about cruises, here's one link:

Shannon B.
Shannon M7 years ago

My parents are big time cruisers who travel minimum one time a year... I'd like to see the stats on some of those ships.