Kermit the frog wasn’t lying; it’s not always easy being green, especially when it comes to travel. From planes to plastic usage, traveling can be hard on the environment, especially if you need to book jet-fuel-guzzling round trip flights to get to where you’re going. But if you think you need to completely upend how you travel to have a positive impact on the environment, think again. By way of a few simple measures, you can alter your travels and be a bit greener in the process.
Pack Your Own Water Bottle and Reusable Grocery Bag
Plastics, namely bottles and bags, are major contributors to damaging the Earth, especially marine ecosystems. Some travelers can have the tendency to forgo their green practices at home when they travel, buying groceries and taking them home in plastic bags, or purchasing bottled water every day of their travels. If you use a water bottle at home and reusable grocery bags, you should do the same when you travel. While being just a simple measure, you aren’t adding more plastic waste as you travel.
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Book Green Hotels and Stay Green
You don’t have to move mountains to travel greener. By merely being selective when booking your hotels, you can have less of a negative impact on the environment. Hotels produce a tremendous amount of waste, from water usage to electricity to trash. Instead of just booking properties based on how they look, seek out hotels that actually have green certifications and eco-friendly practices in place. These properties have met certain government standards for how they reuse, recycle and implore sustainable energy. Even if your hotel isn’t certified green, you can still stay green no matter where you rest your head at night. Curtail the long shower on vacation. Skip the daily linen change. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Don’t blast the air-conditioning.
Take Public Transportation, Bike or Walk When You Can
If you want to reduce your environmental impact, don’t rent a car. When visiting cities and towns, try to walk as much as possible, rent a bike or utilize public transportation. By taking the bus or walking, you are significantly lowering your impact. You can even try avoiding travel by way of a plane or cruise ship. Train travel has less of a carbon footprint and can be a slower, but more relaxed, way of seeing your destination.
Feast at Farm-to-Table Restaurants, Eateries and Markets
When you travel, it’s easy to get caught up in selecting a restaurant that is convenient. However, if you’re a bit more selective, your meals out can have a better impact on the environment. Many restaurants don’t source their ingredients locally, meaning more energy and resources are required to get them to your table. While you travel, do a bit of research and seek out eateries that are farm-to-table, meaning the food is sourced either on-site or locally. Not only will you be driving the regional economy and helping local farmers, but you’ll also be cutting back on the waste produced to source food from thousands of miles away. Also, try shopping at local food markets when you travel instead of big chain grocery stores.
Don’t Buy Souvenirs That Aren’t Made Locally
When most of us travel, we want to take home something from our favorite destination that’s actually from that place. However, all too often, travelers are tricked into buying products that are made nowhere near the destination from which they are sold. Before you buy an item, be sure that it is made locally. Locally made souvenirs help the economies of your destinations thrive. At the same time, it stops the outsourcing of goods from oceans away and the resources needed to get them into your suitcase.
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Leave Natural Spaces Better Than You Found Them
Don’t grab a bunch of rocks from that national park to take home. Part of being green when you travel is quite simple. Don’t leave places worse off than you found them. Pick up your trash. Don’t disturb the natural environment by taking pieces of it home. Stay on the trails and respect signage. While it sounds overly simple, the less of an actual footprint you leave the more miles it can go towards traveling greener.
Worries about the huge carbon footprint of those round trip flights you just booked? How do you hope to make up for it when traveling? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.