Your vacation doesn’t have to wreck the environment. In fact, with a few small and easy tips, you can have the trip of a lifetime while also minimizing your carbon footprint. Here are five extremely easy ways to make your vacation more green. Remember, Mother Earth will thank you!
By Keith David Langston
STAY IN LEED HOTELS
Travelers who care about the environment have many options when it comes to their accommodations. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an agency that helps with the design of new buildings and the environmental renovation of old ones. LEED has four tiers of eco-efficiency for buildings: Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum. So the next time you go booking hotels, be sure to ask if the hotel is a certified LEED building, like the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, CA.
BUY CARBON OFFSET CREDITS
We all love flying, even if we don’t always admit it. The hustle and bustle of the airport. The rush of take-off (Not to mention that it makes getting places much quicker). Nothing says travel quite like flying. However, flying is also pretty tough on our air. Lifting a giant metal object filled with people and cargo off the ground, and then propelling that metal object at 400 mph requires a lot of fuel.
But there is a way to help counteract this: Carbon offset credits. It works like this. Say you flew from New York to LA. Your plane just incinerated jet fuel at 35,000 ft. for 6 hours, and you’re feeling a bit guilty about it. You can go to websites like TerraPass and buy “offset credits”, which is basically you contributing money to projects that help green up the world. These include things like building wind turbines on dairy farms. Your airplane might still be burning fuel, but you can know that you helped contribute to less emissions coming from somewhere else.
Even better: A lot of airlines let you use your loyalty points to purchase carbon offset credits!
STAY CLOSER TO HOME
If you don’t feel like purchasing carbon credits for your flight, another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is to simply take a shorter flight. If you’re looking for a vacation like Rio, remember, there are other beautiful places where large cities sit on immaculate coastlines. Try traveling to San Diego instead. You’ll reduce your flight time from 10 hours to 5 hours (from New York). That’s cutting your emissions in half!
SKIP THE JUNK SOUVENIRS
I know your trip to Mexico was fun. But will you ever actually wear that sombrero, or is it going to wind up in your basement never to be seen again?
I’m not saying that you can’t buy souvenirs. Personally, I buy travel posters wherever I go and then hang them in my room. I love them to death. They help add life and color to my walls, as well as help me remember my travels.
Having said that, in my past I’ve definitely bought my fair share of keychains and figurines and all that crap that are probably now sitting in a landfill somewhere. An easy way to green up your trip is to simply be more thoughtful with your purchases. If you do, you can reduce waste by a lot more than you may think.
BE KIND AND THOUGHTFUL
I know that when people travel, they like to relax and unwind to the nth degree, but sometimes they get so careless that they start being reckless. The absolute easiest way to make your trip more environmentally friendly is to simply be a kind and thoughtful person.
When exploring a place, don’t mess with any animals or insects you might find.
After your night of partying, don’t just throw your beer can onto the beach.
In a hotel, ask yourself, do you really need your sheets changed every single day?
Those tiny, simple, easy things are actually what matter most. Your daily actions, the things you might not even notice, those are what make the true impact. A good friend helped me see it once by putting it into perspective like this:
If you reuse your towel in a hotel for just two showers rather than one, that’s one less towel a hotel has to wash….remember, hotels are huge. The Ritz-Carlton in Chicago has 435 rooms. The Atlantis resort has a whopping 1,539 rooms. So if everyone in just the Atlantis decided to use a towel twice. that’s now 1,539 less towels to be washed. If every guest in every hotel around the world saved their towels for just one extra shower…imagine the amount of soap, water, and energy that could be saved.
Remember, change starts small. And it starts with you. Enjoy your vacations, and may they be the greenest they can be!