by Michele McKay
If you will be taking advantage of lowered airfares this fall or planning a trip for the holidays, consider ways to make your trip eco-friendly.
Staying at resorts or hotels that care about the environment is a great way to be gentle on the planet when traveling. To conserve water and reduce pollution, many lodgings offer guests the option of not having linens changed daily. Some offer on-site recycling facilities, earth-friendly cleaners, low-flow toilets, and motion-activated lights. There are even “eco-chic” resorts that go the extra mile by providing guests with organic cotton towels and by replacing water-thirsty lawns with native plant landscaping. To locate eco-friendly “green” lodgings, visit:
- Green Hotel Association – www.greenhotels.com
- Green Seal – www.greenseal.org (www.greenseal.org/programs/lodging_projects.cfm)
For travelers who enjoy tours, but want to “go green,” there are opportunities for eco-tourism worldwide. Not to be confused with “adventure travel” (which can be harmful to travelers and ecosystems alike), eco-tourism is based on an appreciation of ecology and culture. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines eco-tourism as travel that fosters “the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas.” Though many companies have jumped on the bandwagon by slapping the word “eco” into their name, the UNEP definition states that true eco-tours must be run by locally owned businesses, must be organized for small groups, and must include educational and interpretive elements that increase awareness about local conservation. In addition, they must minimize impacts on the natural and cultural environment, and they should generate income that can be used by local communities to conserve and sustain their natural and cultural resources. Visit these sites for eco-tour inspiration:
- International Ecotourism Society – www.ecotourism.org
- Sustainable Travel International – www.sustainabletravel.com