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Can Travel Ever Really Be "Eco"? Try These Tips

Posted: 02/15/2013 5:49 pm

Traveling cannot really be considered an "eco" activity because it's definitely harder on our world than staying at home sweet home. But, I personally take great pleasure from getting out and experiencing the world, and learning what else is going on outside of my bubble.

For me, a vacation away is a much needed break from my everyday routine (and my desk). It lends me unstructured time with my family, it is a time of adventure and sleep, sunshine in the winter months, a refreshing opportunity to experience other places in our great world, find new inspiration, and if I'm lucky, hopefully even inspire someone or something along my journey.

Consider the following seven tips before you travel in order to be kind to your health, your travel companions, and our planet:

1. Know before you go. Some surprises are not fun, so be prepared. (Example, take your own safe, triclosan-free hand sanitizer to avoid the nasty chems and soap supplied.)

2. Waste not, want not. Even before you board, air travellers throw away all sorts of trash including paper, plastic and food waste and airports and airlines recycle only a small portion of it, if any at all. A flight attendant told us that they fill one large bag of garbage per 60 people on a direct three hour flight alone!

3. Eat before you leave the house. And pack lots of snacks...why choose from the small selection of overpriced, fake food, when you can take your favourite real food from home in reusables? Eat well, create less garbage and don't wait for a flight attendant to serve you, who might be busy -- cleaning up someone else's mess.

4. Stay hydrated. Bring your own bottle. No spills, it's waste-free, and your reusable bottle holds more water than those toxic plastic/Styrofoam ones. Just make sure to keep it empty when you go through security.

5. Travel lightly, it saves energy. Every pound you pack, takes more of your energy, more jet fuel, and more carbon emissions to get from one place to another. Doesn't it sound more appealing to travel somewhere you can relax, and not worry about 20 changes of clothes and shoes per day? Plus, taking only a carry on has a lot of bonuses.

6. Don't wear perfume. Fragrance is the new second hand smoke. You can quote me on that.

7. Sharing is Caring. Unread or partially read newspapers are not even used for the next flight; they are thrown out, or recycled without a second thought. Share with your travel neighbour, or refrain from taking one in the first place and read a great book (on your e-reader) instead.

For more information, perspective, tips, tricks, and must-have travel products to keep your time away as eco-happy as possible, flip through Your Guide to Traveling Consciously.

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  • Bring a Trash Bag

    “If you bring a trash bag with you, you may get a chance to do at least a partial cleanup of a beach or two.” –John Morrison, Manager, Conservation Finance <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Respect, Learn From Locals

    “Remember to treat the local people with as much respect as you would the wildlife. You have much to learn from them, and they are often the key to saving those animals and habitats you care so much about.” –Jay Sherman, Lead Specialist, Freshwater Program <em>Photo Credit: Chris Burkard</em>

  • Stay Close to Home

    Find excitement close to home! Sometimes we neglect to appreciate the beauty of natural places that are closer to home in favor of the exotic. But you can reduce your carbon footprint by traveling, for instance, to the Northern Great Plains by train or to see the salamanders of the U.S. Southeast by bus, rather than going overseas. –Keya Chatterjee, Director, International Climate Policy <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Don't Buy Illegal Goods

    “If you come across people selling wildlife or wildlife products, be aware that those ‘souvenirs’ could very well be endangered species that have been poached from the wild and are being sold illegally.” –Will Gartshore, Senior Policy Officer, U.S. Government Relations <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Bring Your Own Bottle (B.Y.O.B.)

    “Plastic bottles are one of the biggest pollution problems in natural spaces I have visited. Bring your own water bottle with you when you travel.” –Sybille Klenzendorf, Managing Director of Species Conservation <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Eat Local

    “Eat local. Find a farmer’s market or street stall and eat what the locals eat. You’ll get to know the culture, and more than likely the food will be locally grown and sourced. And you get to support local communities and their needs–in this case, paying the vendor directly instead of paying up a chain of command.” –Alex MacLennan, Editorial Director <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • You Have the Power

    “I love to travel using my own power or non-polluting power sources (like wind). That has led my husband and me to go kayaking, biking, hiking, backpacking and sailing around the world. I can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and visit amazingly remote and peaceful places.” –Wendy Goyert, Program Officer, Major Buyer Initiative <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Engage in Responsible Tourism

    “I try to do business only with people engaged in tourism in responsible ways. Sure, I may pay a little more for lodging and other services, but I feel good knowing that my patronage may be directly helping local people and protecting their immediate surroundings.” –Lee Poston, Media Relations Director <a href=" http://www.theactivetimes.com/12-expert-tips-sustainable-travel?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=nationalparks" target="_hplink"><strong>Click here to see more Eco-Friendly Travel Tips</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit: Shutterstock</em>

 

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