Here at Ecocentric we love dishing out greening tips, and this season’s heat has got us in vacation mode. In fact, a lot of us are on vacation right now! So in the spirit of sustainability and summer fun, we have some tips to make your summer travels more environmentally friendly.
As legendary food blogger Elissa Altman recently pointed out, food deserts aren’t limited to inner cities or rural areas, they line our highways, too. While it’s encouraging to see that some airports are improving, it can be ridiculously hard to find good food while traveling. Eat Well Everywhere makes it easier. You can map your route and download a custom guide of sustainable food stores, farmers' markets, bed and breakfasts and more. Take some time to travel off the beaten path to visit a farm! Find stores to pack your cooler and restock it along the way.
Bottled water is plentiful (and pricey) at airports and rest stops, but don’t forget there are water fountains too! To avoid BPA, choose stainless steel models like those offered by Klean Kanteen. You will save a bunch of money, and won’t create a bunch of plastic waste!
The thrill of flying solo down the open road may beckon, but unless you're driving a plug-in hybrid (and even then, you can do better carpooling!) driving is not among your greener travel options. In general, here’s how they break down, in order of greenest to not: biking, freight ship, freight train (unfortunately, we cannot in good conscience recommend you hop a train or ship, though it does sound romantic), plug-in hybrid, motorcycle, passenger train, airplane, bus, car and last but not least -- no surprise here -- SUV. Obviously, sometimes you have to drive, or fly, or take a bus. Do your best by carpooling, making sure your car is running efficiently and considering all your options.
Hotels are becoming more and more concerned with their environmental impact and are making efforts to conserve as much as possible, encouraging guests to use the same towel which reduces water and energy use for the building. Your best bet is to stay at an Ecolodge or campground. Ecolodges are more frequently found internationally, but there are some within the continental US. You can also opt to stay at a place where you can buy food and cook for yourself.
Traveling can be stressful – and expensive – so sometimes there’s nothing better than enjoying your hometown and seeing it in a whole new light. Read a book, go to a museum or frequent a local food purveyor and help stimulate your local economy. Keep your carbon footprint down, save yourself some hard-earned cash and make some relaxing memories right there at home – you might find some new favorite spots!
Go to a national park or a beach, or volunteer at a farm. You might even get some produce to take with you! These activities allow you to tread lightly on the Earth while keeping your costs at a minimum.
Make sure your tires have been properly inflated and that your car is running efficiently so that you aren’t using more fuel than necessary. Use Better World Club, an environmentally friendly roadside assistance program for tips and advice.
Use your dollars to support local economies by choosing small businesses over big box chain stores. Summer destinations often count on this income to survive the rest of the year. Take a tour at a localbrewery or winery or seek out a sustainable restaurant.