Roaming the Earth doesn't have to mean polluting it. Eco-friendly travel takes some strategizing, but as environmental awareness has grown, so has the number of green travel options. With the average adult taking three to four leisure trips per year, according to U.S. Travel Association statistics, globe-trotting has a substantial impact on the planet. Follow these tips to leave a smaller footprint away from home:
1. Book Green Lodging:
Hotels vary widely in their environmental approaches (or lack thereof). The greenest ones offer services such as recycling, low-flow showerheads, fluorescent lighting and linen cards to indicate when you need a change. Before booking your reservation, find out if your hotel, motel or inn is a member of the Green Hotels Association or has otherwise established environmentally-friendly policies.
2. Use Your Feet:
If that restaurant or museum is just a mile or two from your hotel room, consider walking instead if catching a cab. Transportation makes up nearly one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, according to the EPA. Leisure travel is an ideal time to skip the motor and explore a new city on foot. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases and helping to prevent climate change, you'll take in more of your surroundings, get a workout and save money to boot.
3. Cup It:
On the road, it's easy to buy a single-serving water bottle without thinking twice. However, these containers are bad news for the environment. Research from the Pacific Institute indicates that water-bottle production used 17 million barrels of oil and created more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. Plus, up to 86 percent of those bottles wind up in landfills or litter the streets and landscapes. For more sustainable thirst-quenching, pack a reusable cup or bottle and fill it with tap water for daily drinking. If the tap water is unsafe, buy a gallon-sized bottle to keep in your hotel room, and use it for refills.
4. Eat Local:
Moss covered love bug
The environmentally conscious VW love bug of the 1960's continues to provide sustenance, even after it's travel duties are complete. | Bug, Vw, Environment, Moss, Green, Decay,
Travel provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to sample authentic regional fare as well as exotic, freshly-picked produce. Do some research to discover the local culinary specialties. If you have access to a farmers market, take advantage. When you skip the chain restaurants, both the planet and your waistline will thank you.
5. Offset your Impact:
Burn the fuel, plant a tree. The idea is that while airplanes belch out loads of toxic emissions, you can help compensate by donating to reforestation efforts, alternative energy sources, manure management projects and more. Major online booking sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, partner with carbon-offsetting services that cost about $7 to $30 a trip, depending on your itinerary. It may be unrealistic to think that you can "undo" the pollution from your flight, but by participating in these programs you (and the rest of the world) can breathe a bit easier.