Over one billion people travel around the world each year. With this much travel going on, it is a good idea for everyone to make a few changes to their travel routine to be more ecologically friendly. There are six ways you can travel green.
Get a Non-Stop Flight
Image via Flickr by epSos.de
Non-stop flights are more enjoyable because there are no nasty layovers with potentially missed or overbooked flights. Another benefit of a direct flight is the reduced amount of energy that is needed to fly. This may surprise some of you. Most of the carbon emissions from an aircraft occur during take-off and landing. Getting a non-stop flight reduces these occurrences and makes your personal carbon footprint much lighter.
Rent a Hybrid Car
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Renting a car is a large part of what can make a travel carbon footprint larger. Even if you drive a pickup truck at home, renting a hybrid vehicle while on vacation eases your burden on the environment. If there are no hybrids available, choose the smallest car or an economy car. These cars are great because they save you money on gas because they do not need to be filled as often. Decline any free upgrades in vehicles at the rental car place that will cost more in gas.
Choose a Green Hotel
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If at all possible, find a hotel that has earned LEED certification. These hotels are very economically friendly. The building itself may be made of up of recycled steel and other materials. Swimming pools are heated by solar power. Sensors are in lighting systems so lights are not on continuously.
Not many hotels are advanced enough for this certification. However, most hotels are making efforts to become more ecologically aware. Steps to cut energy consumption include low-flow toilets and showers or LED or CFL lighting. Thanks to energy deregulation, alternative ways to power the hotel such as wind or solar power are becoming more popular. Some hotels have recycling programs in place as well that are a good sign of their green status.
Even if the hotel does not have many energy-saving aspects, you can still take steps to make a greener impression. Do not ask for new sheets and towels every day. Sometimes maid services will come in and clean the room anyway. To prevent that, place the do not disturb sign on the door. Don't use the toiletries the hotel provides.
Recycle and Reuse As Often As Possible
Image via Flickr by epSos.de
You can follow the recycle and reuse rule in the hotel room, but it can also be applied to other aspects of your trip. Find the nearest recycling bins to where you are staying and sort your trash at restaurants and hotels for proper disposal. One of the best green decisions you can make while traveling is to buy or bring a reusable water bottle. Not only is plastic manufactured using a lot of energy, but it also is very hard to recycle.
Walk or Bike Around Your Destination
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Try to stay in an area where all destinations are close enough to walk or bike to. This will drastically reduce any energy output you would have created renting a car or taking a cab. Besides, walking and biking are healthy activities that keep you in shape. If a car is necessary to get around your travel destination, choose public transit over other forms of transportation.
Eat Local Food and Buy Local Products
Image via Flickr by La Grande Farmer's Markets
Buying local means you are supporting a local economy of handmade and homemade products and food. When you buy things that are imported from other places, you are paying for the energy it took to get the food or product flown in or shipped.
Make sure to check what products are made out of, however. Do not buy products that are made from endangered species of plants and animals. This only helps contribute to their extinction, hurting the environment. Most products that are made from endangered species are not allowed through customs.
It is very easy to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling. More and more travel destinations and hotels are being as aware as you. Supporting them with your travel business helps increase the awareness for green travel.
Heather Waugh is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, MO.