Vacation Sustainably

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 9.44.38 PMVacation Sustainably (Week #5)

After shoveling three feet of snow during this last week’s Nor’easter, or Snowmageddon, I need to plan a vacation! It’s that time of year when most of us in Northern climates desire travel to warmer places where we take time to enjoy and engage our loved ones and family to relax, have fun and recharge.

The Why:

Sustainable vacations and eco-tourism minimize you and your family’s impact on the local environment and culture. As we learn to understand the global implications of our choices an important question surfaces. Is there a way to responsibly plan a healthy vacation for our families that doesn’t deplete environmental resources, is socially responsible, economically viable and culturally enriching?

The What and How:

Plan your next vacation or retreat through the sustainable lens.

  1. Do all your research up front. Book your travel with companies that specialize in sustainable tourism or green tourism. You can find out more buy visiting sites such as Sustainable Travel International, Sustainable Trip.orgEco-Tour Directory, GoNomad, and Sustainable Tourism. I’ve listed some Blue and Green Certification websites below.
  2. Stay in a green or sustainable hotel, villa or location that promotes eco-friendly practices. Many of these have 100% cotton sheets, serve local, healthier organic food, mitigate water and carbon footprints with less frequent cleaning maintenance (when guests request as opposed to the usual daily ritual. You don’t clean your bathroom and bedroom from top to bottom every day at home do you?)
  3. Respect the culture and natural environment of the location you visit. This goes for whether you are visiting a National Park, an estuary, scuba diving in the Turks and Caicos or hiking in the Alps or Tibet; refrain from touching or disturbing animals or plants in their natural habitat, take out what you brought in, and dispose of waste responsibly.
  4. Purchase sustainable souvenirs. Avoid purchasing items that were derived from endangered species, plants or people’s that do not practice fair trade. Support the people living in the culture or country directly WHEN you visit; thereby decreasing the fossil fuels used to ship these items to your own country.
  5. Buy local. Utilize the same sustainable practice you do at home, purchase from local restaurants, local tour guides, enjoy local cultural events, and use local rental companies.

The Deep Dive:

Try a socially responsible and eco-friendly trip to the Bahamas with Solstice Bahamas where part of your rental fees offset your GHG travel emissions.

Empower local cultures and communities while stewarding the planet, consider vacations through EarthFootG AdventuresWildland Adventures, or Peregrine.

Rainforest Alliance Certification information here.

Responsible Travel Report here.

More about Green Globe certification here and Blue Flag here.

More on fuel economy in driving habits here.

Did you know that transportation is responsible for 28% of all US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? If you increase your travel speed from 55MPH to 75MPH your fuel consumption increases 20%.

The United Nations Environment Programme – Sustainable Consumption.

National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations.

2014 EPA report on Potential Changes in Emissions Due to Improvements in Travel Efficiency – Final Report

Did you know that transportation is responsible for 14% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? If you increase your travel speed from 55MPH to 75MPH your fuel consumption increases 20%. The US is responsible for 40% of the global GHG emission due to aviation.

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