Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Turn Your Vacation Green!

Vacation season is in full swing! People are loading up their cars, heading for the airport, and seeking out some down time, often at the beach, the lake, or in other natural environments to restore balance and our energy. But what impact does your travel have on the planet? Do you think green when you go on vacation? Maybe you should!

What exactly is green or sustainable travel? According to TravelGreen.org, sustainable travel "...focuses on reducing the environmental impact of travel and preserving cultural heritage. It generates income and employment for travel destinations while protecting local ecosystems and preserving local culture. Sustainable travel encompasses a holistic approach to the business of travel that creates value for the traveler, economic opportunity for local communities and business opportunities for the industry."

Travel leaves an undeniable impact on the environment. Carbon emissions from airplanes are released high in the atmosphere, creating an even greater effect on climate change than emissions from cars and buses. In addition, air travelers produce an estimated 7.5 million pounds of trash every day from improperly discarding paper, plastic and food waste both while waiting in the terminal and on board, according to the New York Times. You can help reduce impact by opting for a direct flight and choosing flights that carry more passengers. Check out other travel options - train and bus transport also reduces impact. You might also look into staying closer to home and discovering some of the great spots in your own neck of the woods! When flying is a must, you can help reduce your impact by purchasing carbon offsets from organizations such as TerraPass which then, in turn, invests in carbon reducing projects. And, you can be conscious of your waste and your personal impact along the way.

What else can you do when traveling? Consider renting a hybrid car, as they "produce up to 90% fewer pollutants than their gas-guzzling equivalents, which makes for a healthier ozone layer," according to Travelocity.com. Or book a reservation in a green hotel with a commitment to operating sustainably. Or stock up on eco-conscious travel gear in advance that will reduce your waste and your impact, such as reusable water bottles and food wraps. Once you've arrived, take advantage of the opportunity to hike, bike, or use public transportation to see the sites and to cut down on your impact. Seek out area restaurants serving fresh, local food, support local farmers and businesses along the way, and green up your vacation. Being conscious is the first step and making it green will make it more memorable for you and for your family!

Looking for more ideas? Join us for this week's Twitter Party at #holisticmoms at 10 pm on Tuesday the 20th with Travelocity's Travel for Good and share your ideas, ask questions, and live greener!

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