It seems everywhere you look these days the terms ‘Green’ and ‘Eco-Friendly’ are thrown around so loosely it’s hard to determine what, if any, positive environmental impact we can make on the things we do every day. Take for example Green household cleaning products. Does ‘green’ mean they were produced in a facility that uses renewable energy or that the ingredients or packaging are more natural? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m THRILLED to see more and more companies taking the idea of sustainability more seriously but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult as a consumer to navigate how we can make the most positive environmental impact. We hear a lot about bringing canvas bags to the grocery store, recycling and reducing household waste and cutting down on home energy use but there is one industry rarely spoken about that can potentially make the biggest impact. This is the Travel industry.
According to the U.S Department of Commerce, direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $683.1 billion in 2016. People all over the world are clearly traveling more than ever, but are we truly considering the environmental impact our travel has? According to the EPA in 2014, 31% of total U.S CO2 Emissions were the result of the transportation industry and 37% were from the production of electricity. It seems everything from your plane ride and rental car to the electricity it takes to wash your towels at the hotel are contributing to these staggering numbers.
So, what can you do? The first thing to consider is the mode of transportation you need to get from here to there. Can you take a bus or a train rather than a plane? Once at your destination can you rent a bicycle instead of a car, use Uber or at least rent a hybrid car? Next you need to choose a hotel or resort. There are some great websites to help you choose a more environmentally friendly Hotel. Try www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com which gives you the lowdown on hotels in any area and which are making a serious effort to be Eco-friendly. Right here in CT, for example, there are several Hotels on the forefront of this movement.
- Crowne Plaza Hartford in South Cromwell
- Fitch Claremonth House B&B in Bozrah
- Green Rocks Inn in Ridgefield
- Premiere Hotel and Suites in New Haven
- Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook
- Trinity Conference Center in West Cornwall
Here are a few other ways to be Eco-Friendly while traveling.
- Participate in some kind of sustainable activity when you arrive at your destination. Something as simple as grabbing a garbage bag and doing a beach, park or river cleanup can make a big difference. My husband and I often bring a plastic bag on our hikes and simply pick up any trash we come across.
- Research local organizations near your destinations to see if there are any volunteer opportunities you can take part in. Yes, it may take a few hours away from your suntan but the feeling of contribution far outweighs any missed relaxation time.
- Support the local economy by shopping at small businesses, farmer’s markets and local artist stands where you can find truly unique treasures. I have traveled to many countries and my favorite gifts have been handcrafted by the natives of the area. I can remember the faces of the children in Fiji who made a shell necklace and the young men in Ghana, Africa who made a bracelet with my name on it.
- Book your trip through a site that offsets your Carbon footprint making your entire trip Zero Carbon. This is BY FAR the most impactful thing you can do for the environment. The EPA has a calculator that determines how much CO2 is created from your trip and there is a company willing to purchase the equivalent in Carbon Offsets. You may think this would be costly but booking through this site CAN SAVE YOU UP TO 50% on airfare, rental cars and hotels AND your trip has no negative impact on the environment. For more information on this incredible way to make an impact check out naturalnutmeg.travellight.com.
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There is no quick fix or simple answer for shifting to a world that operates in harmony with nature and protects and preserves our natural resources, but each ‘little’ decision we make adds up to a HUGE collective impact.
Jenna Stockwell is an Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker and Writer who is driven by her passion for people and the planet. Jenna has traveled to remote villages worldwide to participate in sustainability projects and continues to speak, train and educate people all over the world on how together we can live in harmony with each other and nature. She is excited to create a global network of people who are called to make a difference! To find out more or to contact Jenna visit: www.JennaEmily.com.