Six Steps for a Sustainable Vacation
Where did the summer go? It takes so long to get here and then disappears so fast. It seems like just yesterday we dug out our flip-flops. Did you manage to sneak in that hoped-for summer vacation, despite the busy schedule of kids’ soccer games and family barbecues? If not, the truth is vacations are fantastic any time of year — and it’s always the right time to consider your impact on the environment. Whenever you do end up hitting the road, we want to help you have a good time while being as sustainable as possible along the way. (We know you care about that just as much as we do). So, we put together a quick list of our six favorite vacation sustainability tips. They will fit nicely in your carry-on no matter if you’re headed to Grandma’s or the Grand Cayman Islands. How many of these smart steps do you already take?
Choose sustainable lodging
Why not try an ecolodge on this trip? In some places, you can also stay in private homes. That’s good for the local economy too. In either case, reuse your towels to conserve water and energy. Oh, and try to take shorter showers and remember to turn off the TV, lights and AC when you leave.
Bring your own water bottle
Producing bottled water is no simple task. It requires energy to manufacture plastic, fabricate the plastic into bottles, process the water, fill and seal the bottles, transport the bottles, and then chill the bottles for use. That adds up to between 5.6 and 10.2 million joules of energy per liter or about 2,000 times the energy required to produce tap water.
Ditch the car, bus and plane
Traveling by train or bike is a great way to soak in the sights. Estimates are that trains use between 3 and 5 times less energy per capita than road transport and between 7 and 10 times less than planes. As for bike sharing, there are programs in more than 1,000 cities around the world today offering readily available rentals.
This is always sound travel advice. The less you pack, the less weight you carry, which means less fuel to fly or drive it from here to there and back. Also, it means less water and energy to wash everything along the way. As for paper, let your phone or tablet do the work. Keep your maps and travel docs on your device and give the trees a break
Carry reusable bags
Did you know that Americans alone use about 100 billion plastic bags a year? That’s about 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child. Those 100 billion plastic bags, if tied together, would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times. Cloth bags are not only reusable, they are also sturdier and more attractive.
You’ve heard this one before, but it’s still true and a great idea for so many reasons. When you choose local foods and goods over others, you are choosing the option that requires less energy to protect, store and transport. And again, it’s a great way to support the local people and the economy they rely on. Plus, let’s be honest, local is way more interesting.
Next time you take off, why not give the environment a bit of a vacation too?
Even the smallest steps can make a meaningful impact. It turns out sustainability goes perfectly with that fruity drink with the umbrella in it.