Admittedly, I’m a wanderlust. Years spent working in aviation and moonlighting as a travel writer in my past life (ie. pre-Mom days) gave me a thirst for exploration. I’ve traveled throughout North American, across the pond to England and explored in Europe and Japan. Back in those seemingly carefree days, I still cared about the environment but I didn’t spend much time thinking about the impact and energy consumption I and the $1.3 trillion industry was having on our planet. According to “The Green Book,” (Three Rivers Press) air travel alone is “fast becoming the largest contributor of green-house gas emissions.” I see things a little different now. I’m more educated, but I’ve still got the travel bug.
You may be trying to squeeze in one last family “HURRAH!” before school starts, or perhaps you’ve got plans for a long weekend excursion over Memorial Day weekend. Wherever the wind takes you, let your heart (and your conscience) be your guide for travel to help protect the planet. I’ve listed a few options – some you may already be doing:
Before You Go
- Do a run through: make sure appliances are unplugged, mail and newspaper delivery has been stopped and lights are off
- Get the Right Temperature: Make sure shades and blinds are pulled, and set your thermostats. The Green Book recommends 50-degrees for cold months and 85-degrees for the heat.
On the Plane
- eTicket for less waste. That’s right, buy electronic ticketing “the airline industry could save as much as $3 billion annually by eliminating paper tickets altogether” (The Green Book, pg. 27)
- Purchasing Carbon Offsets. The editors of TreeHugger awarded TerraPass the “Best Carbon Offset Provider” for 2010 and 2011.
At the Hotel
- Reusing linens (towels and sheets) makes a big difference. I’m not sure about you, but in the Mangum house Monday is sheet-changing day. I don’t wash our family’s bedding on a daily basis at home – why would I need someone else to do it on the road? Take advantage of hotels water conservation programs.
- Small Soaps = Big Impact: Buy using your own toiletries instead of opting for the small hotelier sized soaps, toothpastes and hair products you can help reduce plastic waste. “A single three-hundred-room hotel in Last Vegas uses more than 150,000 plastic bottles of shampoo a year,” (pg. 27).
There are so many more “ways to save” on energy and to protect our planet while enjoying its bounties. What suggestions do you have for eco-friendly family travel?