We know Explorers’ Corner travelers are passionate about our planet’s wild places, because that’s where you find your inner sustenance. Well, there are plenty of things you can do as a traveler to help sustain those very places!
In honor of Earth Day coming up April 22, here’s our list of seven sustainable starting points – if you’re not taking these simple resource-saving steps already, get going!
7 Simple Steps to Lighten Your Traveler’s Footprint
1) Choose an active vacation
Obviously, that’s our terrain — Explorers’ Corner adventures get you there by foot, kayak, sailboat, even by dog sled! No big motorcoaches or 4,000-passenger cruise ships that burn literally tons of fuel per day. When you’re trekking through Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains or paddling the coast of Greenland among bobbing seals and icebergs, you’re saving energy while expending your own.
2) Eco-prep your home before you go
Don’t just switch the lights off and lock the door: you can save lots more energy by adjusting your water heater to its lowest setting, turning off appliances and unplugging electronics. TVs, computers, toasters and even your iPod or cell phone charger continue to use power when they are turned off, but still plugged in.
3) Get there conscientiously
Fact of the matter is, jet flights are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. If you have to fly, pay a little extra to offset your flight’s CO2 output through an organization like Sustainable Travel International; choose nonstop flights whenever possible (the majority of fuel use occurs on takeoff and landing), and take public transportation to the airport. For shorter trips, consider taking the train if it’s available.
4) Pack light
The lighter your bag, the fewer resources you burn transporting your goods, and the more money you save by avoiding baggage fees. A plane, car or train burns less fuel when it’s carrying a lighter load, and you’ll be less encumbered when you’re traveling as well. All sorts of lightweight travel gear, clothing and accessories can help lighten your load, as can strategic packing approaches.
5) Stay at a “green” hotel
More hotels all the time are greening up their practices. Make a deliberate choice to find an eco-conscious hotel by checking out websites such as the Green Hotels Association, I Stay Green, or BnBscape.com, an association of eco-friendly bed and breakfasts and inns. You’ll find properties committed to saving energy, water and reducing their solid waste output through the use of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, low-flow toilets, in-room recycling, building with recycled materials and much more.
6) Save water wherever you stay
Even if you’re not at an officially “green” hotel, you can still take your own conservation measures. Re-use towels and advise housekeeping that you don’t need your sheets changed daily. Doing one less load of laundry a week can save as much as 2,000 gallons of water a year—imagine that figure magnified in the hotel industry. And opt for shorter showers: the average U.S. showerhead spits out about 2.5 gallons per minute, which means that an indulgent 15-minute shower uses nearly 40 gallons of water.
7) Take reusable bottles & utensils
A reusable stainless steel or plastic water bottle should be the norm for travelers these days. But also take reusable utensils, such as the handy bamboo sets from To-Go Ware that come with their own wrappers made from recycled plastic bottles. And while you may not want to pack a cloth napkin if you lack easy washing access, use fewer paper napkins. Rachel Buchholz, managing editor of National Geographic Kids magazine, which devoted its April 2010 issue to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, observed, “If every American used one less paper napkin a day, it would prevent the use of more than a billion pounds of napkins ending up in landfills — enough to fill the Empire State Building!”
While these may seem like minor measures, imagine the collective impact if we all committed to doing even these seven things. Are you in?
Here’s to getting greener,