We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow the earth from our
-Native American Proverb
We have been treating the Earth like we don't live on it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Greener Vacation

My family spent our 4th of July weekend in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a town called Murphys. We had a great time but being green on vacation can be a challenge. For starters, if you are a die-hard greenie vacations are mostly out of the question unless you ride your bike to the destination, sleep under the stars and catch/hunt/pick your own food. We did none of that and most people don't. So how do you manage to be greener when you are gone?

  1. While in the planning stages try to go local. Explore the mountains or beaches near you. In most parts of the world there are beautiful and exciting places right in your back yard. Check. We went 2 hours away.

  2. Look for lodging that follows green ways. Search for "ecotravel or green vacation + your state/country". I found Green Orbitz and the Gaia Hotel. For more adventure try Manaca, Ecotravel, and Ecosummer.

  3. Before you even leave turn off and unplug appliances that you will not need on while gone. Turn off the heater/air conditioner, turn down the water heater all the way, turn off the computer and its peripheral appliances, unplug clocks and smaller appliances, you get the picture. Turn down the frig a bit-you won't be opening it so the stuff will stay cold. Check-except the frig, I forgot.

  4. Take the train or bus. If you don't, load up as many people as you can in the most fuel efficient vehicle you have. Check.

  5. Pack your own homemade food. It is healthier, cheaper and better for the environment. Check-I made zucchini muffins (surprise, surprise, more zucchini)

  6. While there follow the same green rules you have at home-recycle, short showers, A/C at a minimum, walk or ride your bike, shop local. Partial check-I didn't think this one out. I didn't recycle nor take shorter showers. But we walked when we could and the A/C was off when it was not needed.

  7. Bring your own eating and drinking implements and use them as much as possible. Partial check-I brought bowls and utensils for breakfast cereal in the motel room but didn't take them with me to restaurants (that was a hard decision, I didn't want to be the "organic, green freak".) And we brought Sigg bottles but opted for plastic bottles instead. I feel bad about that, next time I will know to bring a huge 3 gallon jug of water and refill my bottles.

  8. Use your own bags. Check.

  9. Ask the maid to not come. Hang your towels and make your own bed or not, your on vacation. Check. Except my friend spilled her soda on my bedspread one day so we had to call the maid to change it.

  10. If you eat out, eat everything on your plate. Can't do that, share or order smaller quantities. And try to find locally grown and/or organic. Check. I ate it all and gained weight, ha ha.

  11. Refrain from needless spending. Don't buy single serving snack foods. Before you buy a souvenir, do you really need it? Is it made from and of a renewable resource? Partial check. I am cheap so most souvenirs are out of the question. I do buy magnets for my frig. We take pictures for souvenirs. As for snacks, I am guilty of being non-green so I won't go into details.

  12. If in doubt follow the rule of the nature. "Take only pictures, leave only footprints."

So you can be green while gone from home, it just takes some planning and forethought. But what about fireworks? Yes, they are bad for the environment on many levels. Without even turning on your green thinking cap you know that anything that goes up must come down, right? I doubt anyone picks up the firework debris. And anything that burns is usually bad for the environment, right? Fireworks, as anyone knows, are highly combustible and let off all kinds of pollutants. Chile Chews wrote a short post on 4th of July and you can find pollution details about fireworks here. By no means am I saying get rid of fireworks, I would honestly hate for that to happen. But if there are safer, more enviro-friendly ways to celebrate then lets do it.

My resources:


Did I miss anything? Feel free to add more tips on how to be green while on vacation.


Chile said...

Nice job on a green vacation. I cooked almost all of our meals ahead of time for our last vacation and it worked out wonderfully. Saved lots of money and tasted better, frankly, than the two restaurant meals we had over the week.

When staying in hotels, look for one that has a microwave and mini-fridge in the room. That expands your meal possibilities tremendously (and allows you to take the leftovers back to the room instead of stuffing yourself silly at dinner *grin*).

Fiona said...

Possibly the greenest way to travel is to go virtually! Virtual tour websites such as 360TravelGuide.com now allow you to sit back and travel the world without ever leaving home. Compared to flying, Londoners visiting Cape Town will save 2.2 tonnes of CO2, whilst New Yorkers visiting Beijing will save a massive 2.7 tonnes. Not to mention all the holiday money you won't spend!

Allison said...

Chile-I take for granted the frig and microwave, and forgot to mentio it. Since having kids it is a must in the motel room. Thanks for mentioning it.

Fiona-Great site. All we need now is smell-o-vision to smell the sea breeze and the pines and we are set.