“Going green” is all the rage these days, and tourism has not been isolated from the trend. It’s even got its own name: ecotourism.
Here’s how you can have a greener vacation the next time you travel:
Start by searching for a place to stay that employs sustainable tourism practices. Travelocity has a whole directory dedicated to “green hotels”. The site will direct you to eco-friendly destinations with Energy Star approved lodging (meaning they use 40 percent less electricity and produce 35 percent less in the way of carbon emissions than a traditional hotel).
And because the definition of “green” can sometimes be a little gray, Travelocity works with certification programs that go by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. In order to be certified as a sustainable tourism destination, properties have to respect their cultural surroundings, use eco-friendly construction, hire locals, buy fair-trade and environmentally safe products, measure their consumption of energy and water and try to reduce it regularly and limit their noise, light and run-off pollution.
But don’t just leave it up to your hotel! You can contribute to the greenness of your getaway too. Before you go, unplug your electronics, adjust your thermostat, stop your newspapers, and compost any soon- to-expire foods. Pack lightly, since the less your bag weighs, the less fuel will be needed and the less carbon dioxide emitted. Try to avoid flying by opting for a train or bus. If flying is a necessity, look for a direct flight. And once you’re there, if you need to rent a car, go for a hybrid. Or better yet, get around on foot or bike. Reuse your towels and bedding for as long as you can to save on water and energy and buy locally made souvenirs. Take a reusable water bottle and recycle wherever possible.
Lastly, adhere to the golden rule of ecotourism: “Leave no trace behind,” meaning once you’re gone, no one would ever know you’d been there. Because leaving the world a little better than you found it is always a good idea.