At GRACESHIP, we are crazy about travel. But as amazing an experience as traveling can be (whether it’s abroad or just to another city in your own state)- it can have serious environmental repercussions. Sustainability is extremely important to us, and we wanted to share our favorite tips for sustainable travel practices. Be sure to inform your friends and family of the impact they can make- knowledge makes an enormous difference when it comes to these issues. Read on to learn how you can help!
Limit fuel usage as much as possible. If you have the choice of whether to drive or fly to your destination, calculate the possible environmental impact of each choice, so you can make an informed decision. Where possible, take a non-stop flight. Pack lighter to limit the amount of fuel that plane or car requires to carry you. Once you have reached your destination, rent a bike or use public transportation instead of a car. If you have to rent a car, ask for a hybrid vehicle.
Maintain your vehicle before you leave:
If you are driving to your destination, schedule basic maintenance before you leave. A fresh oil and air filter change, and properly inflated and rotated tires can make a huge difference when it comes to fuel economy.
Choose a green hotel:
When choosing where to stay, research your hotel options, and stay in one that is environmentally aware. Research the area you are traveling to and see if there is an Energy Star or LEED certified property in the area. Some larger chains that focus on the environment are Kimpton, Hyatt, The Fairmont, and Marriott- but searching for a small boutique hotel can often land you in a greener spot. The newer the hotel, the more likely that it has been built using more environmentally friendly standards. Air BnB is another great lodging resource- stay in a home or apartment, and treat it like your own!
Treat the hotel like your home:
Turn the lights, air and electronics when you leave. Limit the length of your shower, and reuse your towels (they aren’t dirty after one use so there is no need to wash them). These actions may not affect you financially like they do at home, but they have the same environmental impact.
Eat and drink intelligently:
While traveling, limit eating out whenever possible- bring your travel snacks and meals for the first day from home, and if you have access to a kitchen, cook your own meals. If you don’t, try out some locally sourced restaurants to sample local fare and limit the environmental impact of your meal. Stay away from disposable “travel-friendly” products- bring your own water bottle and reusable silverware for eating on the go.
Bring a reusable shopping bag:
Be honest. You’re going to do some shopping on vacation! There is no reason to forfeit your usual habit of using reusable bags just because you are out of town. Each person traveling should bring one bag- it’s amazing how many disposable bags you can save this way. If you do have to use a plastic or paper bag from a merchant, please recycle it!
Supporting the local economy is important everywhere you go, not just at home. Not only will you be supporting local merchants whose products are likely to have a lower environmental impact, you are helping a local economy thrive. Instead of shopping at chains that you can find back at home, choose a gift shop filled with local artisan’s crafts, or a small, owner curated boutique- you’ll be doing good and finding unique items at the same time.
Be aware of the local environment:
What are the local environmental issues at your destination? Is there a water shortage, dirty beaches, or wildlife habitat endangerment? Choose your activities with the knowledge of their impact on the local environment, and avoid any that will further the problems. Don’t go golfing in the desert or hike through a jungle where tourism has created dangers for wildlife. Never take pieces of the environment back home with you- rock, shells, and plants should stay where they are.