Did you know that the travel industry is the fastest growing industry in the world? Last year alone, there were over 715 million international arrivals worldwide according to the World Tourism Organization. And, each arrival leaves its footprint behind.
Eco-Friendly travel (also known as ecotravel and/or sustainable travel) is travel which promotes a sustainable environment. Travel is a wonderful opportunity to experience our planet, yet poses an enormous threat to it. Leah Powell, president of Trade to Travel (www.TradeToTravel.com), recommends the following websites and easy sustainable travel tips:
Planning Your Trip:
Seek accommodations and tours which carry environmental-friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations – such as Green Seal or Green Leaf. Several organizations have developed standards to measure the environmental initiatives of hotels and tours. Standards vary depending on the organization; however, green hotels and tours include reducing energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, instituting recycling programs, conserving water either through installation of energy star products or by asking patrons to reuse towels, and by purchasing local organic foods. When hotels and tours meet these standards, they are certified as “green.”
Travel to fewer destinations and stay longer at the destinations you do visit. Air travel leaves the largest carbon footprint of any form of travel. Choose trains and buses over airplanes whenever possible.
Don’t fly at night. Trails of condensation from aircraft have a greater warming effect at night, trapping heat but without reflecting any of the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere as they do during the day.
Select accommodations close to public transportation or near the places you are going to visit during your stay.
When flying, book electronic tickets. It reduces paper waste and you’re less likely to lose your ticket.
If you own a vacation property (villa, chalet, condo, apartment, flat, boutique hotel, castle, estate, bed and breakfast, spa, penthouse, private aircraft, yacht, or private island), become a member of Trade to Travel (www.TradeToTravel.com). Not only will you save 80% on fine accommodations worldwide, you’ll be gentler on the planet. Instead of building more and more properties, let’s share the ones we already have.
Before You Go:
Pull the plug on any unnecessary appliances such as TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters, and microwaves. These items may still use energy even in their off mode.
Set your thermostat and water heater at low settings so energy isn’t wasted while you’re gone.
Stop your newspaper or donate the paper to a school while you’re gone.
When You’re There:
Never buy items made from endangered species.
Leave no trace. Do not pick flowers, take rocks or break coral. Don’t litter. Be familiar with cultural mores prior to arrival be respectful of cultural practices.
Shop local: Head to local markets, where you can purchase fresh food from local vendors (which reduces the pollution required to import goods). This benefits the community by increasing their economy, and you will get fresh fruits and veggies and maybe even some handmade souvenirs.
If your accommodations have an environmental program, please participate as much as possible. If you have any questions about how, simply ask when you check in or by calling the front desk.
Never leave lights on when you’re not in the room.
Lower the thermostat when you leave the room for long periods of time.
If your destination is a warm climate, close the drapes. Or, if you have Venetian blinds, angle them up to bounce the sunlight off the ceiling. This will keep the room cooler. Conversely let the sun warm up your room during the day if you’re in a cooler climate.
Leave unopened shampoo, soap, and other items in your accommodations when you leave unless you’re taking them home to use.
Avoid room service and carry-out which increase waste.
Use water sparingly. In some places water is a very scarce and precious resource.
Walk or use public transportation whenever possible.
If you’re driving, please carpool and/or rent hybrid a vehicle.
Grab only the maps and brochures that you will actually use. If in a large group, share brochures whenever possible.
Take pictures and leave the location as you found it. Never remove wildlife from its natural environment including shells, flowers and coral.
When hiking or camping, stay only in marked areas to avoid destroying vegetation.
If you’re staying in a vacation rental property, leave the property owner a note letting them know that he/she can become a member of Trade to Travel (www.TradeToTravel.com), save 80% on vacation properties worldwide, and make a BIG difference for Mother Earth. It’ll almost certainly be the best tip that any of their guests have ever left them!