Green Traveling

Donated By: Wendy
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Consider being green from the first step of your travel, the preparation. Although fossil fuel powered transportation accounts for nearly a third of America’s emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, tourism generates about eight to ten percent of the world’s GDP. If possible take the train or drive to your next destination. Consider purchasing carbon offsets, which are financial contributions targeted at projects that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or prevent it from being added. Typically, you need to purchase one offset per ton of gas emitted. These projects range from planting trees to creating renewable energy sources. They are not the cure to the problem; however, carbon-offsetting programs does represent an innovative approach to dealing with the problem.

When you buy carbon offsets, please be sure to research the company carefully because there are currently no regulations or standards certifying carbon offsets. For more information, try:;;;

The following travel sites also offer carbon offset purchases:

Travelocity ( in conjunction with The Conservation Fund offers a flat donation ($25 for a flight, 4-night hotel stay or car rental) or by calculating the exact emissions of your trip.

Expedia ( with TerraPass, a company that provides offsets to fund clean energy projects across the United States.

British Airways ( coordinates their efforts through Climate Care.

Silverjet ( is the first 100 percent neutral airline. Each ticket includes a mandatory carbon offset contribution to the Carbon Neutral Company.

Remember you can encourage businesses and industries to be more green by where you choose to spend your dollars. Book vacations at hotels and tourism sites that have green programs. If no green programs are offered, ask those companies why not! For a list for green hotels

If you are traveling to San Francisco, stay at the Orchard Garden Hotel. This hotel incorporates recycled carpets, lead-free paints and energy-saving light bulbs in its design.

The Orchard Gardens will be one of the first hotels in the U.S. to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the American standard for environmentally friendly building practices. For a green hotel closer to home, make a reservation at the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, Georgia which is certified by Green Globe.

Again, do your research, different certification programs, which rate hotels on the basis of their environmentally friendly practices, have different criteria, and there is no international standard as of yet. These certifications include: Green Deal (US), Green Globe (Australia/New Zealand), Green Leaf Thailand, Green Leaf Canada, Green Seal (Guatemala) and Certification in Sustainable Tourism (Costa Rica). Some programs don't audit their participants, relying instead on the honor code. Do not hesitate to contact the hotel directly and question them on their environmental practices. Ask them: How is your business contributing to the development of the local community? What is your hotel doing in terms of water and energy conservation? How will your hotel dispose of the waste I generate once I get there? How is your hotel going to promote responsible travelling.

For more information on certification programs:

Consider making a trip that benefits the local economy. The International Ecotourism Society, a non-profit group, promotes sustainable travel and defines ecolodges as hotels that must be beneficial to the environment, the local community and the economy. Here are some of the luxe ecolodges according to this group:

• Try Shompole, Rift Valley Province, Kenya. which offers tented rooms with hand-carved furniture, quartz floors, "cool-pools," for lounging and even safaris. The hotel incorporates solar power, recycling, low impact building practices, maintains the Asali Community Trust to assist development in surrounding rural communities, and works on wildlife conservation efforts with local Maasai, who share in the lodge's profits. Rooms from $365/night (all-inclusive);

• Try Daintree Ecolodge and Spa, Queensland, Australia which is home to the largest number of endangered and rare species anywhere in the world. The Lodge is built on stilts to leave the nearby natural habitats undisturbed, the lodge treats its own wastewater, hosts recycling and composting programs, and works to preserve aboriginal culture in a collaborative effort with the Kuku Yalanji tribe, who provides guided rainforest walks, art classes, and performances. Rooms from $414/night;

• Try Tiamo Resorts, South Andros Island, Bahamas. This resort is 100 percent solar-powered and the private bungalows are made from sustainable pine, which sit on stilts to minimize site and habitat impact and provide natural cooling. Rooms feature low-flush, composting toilets and biodegradable, phosphorous-free soaps. Rooms from $285/night (all-inclusive);

• Try Papoose Creek Lodge, Madison River Valley, Montana, which is focused on local wildlife and the Yellowstone ecosystem, Papoose Creek supports wolf and elk studies, cutthroat-trout reintroduction via the lodge's own fish hatchery, and the use of animal-friendly fencing. 10 trees are planted for each visitor in partnership with Trees for Travel. The kitchen uses only small-herd, grass-fed, naturally-raised meats along with veggies from local organic farms. Rooms from $335/night (all-inclusive, minimum 3-night stay);

Smaller Green Steps that You Can Make While You Travel:

• Avoid styrofoam instead carry your own bottled water or reusable cup.
• Take only the brochures and maps necessary for your purposes, return others to the brochure stand.
• Don’t buy endangered species products such as tortoise shell, ivory, animal skins or feathers. These animals have been killed specifically for the tourism trade. U.S. Customs office offers a list of items, which cannot be imported or brought into the country.
• Leave only footprints. Take everything out that you brought with you. Leave no graffiti, no litter.
• Support conservation programs at home and aboard.
• Switch to a digital camera. Save your photos in a digital frame or on screensavers or slideshows that you can easily share with friends and family. You can register online and send you photos to local drugstores for processing.
• If you must use a regular camera, avoid disposables, and buy rolls of film in 36 shots. Packaging is reduced and you’ll save approximately 40%. Write legibly on your film package. Kodak discards 400,000 rolls of film annually because the return address is illegible.
• Consider reusing your sheets and towels while staying in a hotel. And turning off the lights or air conditioning when you are not in the room.
• If you must rent a car on your trip, find a company that offers hybrid rentals: EV Rental Cars ( offers hybrids for travelers in California, Arizona and Nevada. Hertz has also offered a Green Collection for environmentally conscious travelers. Avis Portugal ( is the first rental agency in Europe to offer hybrids.
• If you need a limo in New York, consider Ozocar ( which uses Toyota Priuses and small hybrid SUVs.