Green Your Summer Vacation
Reduce the impact of your summer holiday with these eco-friendly tips
From taking a flight, to staying at hotels and booking tours, vacations in exotic locals can add to our carbon footprint. Travel was one of our greatest annual contributions to global warming. Now, thanks to the travel industry taking steps to be greener and to you, our eco-savvy tourist, your summer vacation can be virtually carbon neutral.
Avoid buying groceries the week before you set off and plan meals around the food that won’t last until you return. Gift food that you don’t consume to friends and neighbours. Our food travels long distances to get to us and reducing food waste will help to curb your carbon footprint.
Turn your thermostat to the ‘vacation’ setting and switch off all electronics. Appliances on ‘stand-by’ mode account for 10-15% of your hydro bill.
Go electronic wherever possible, so your travel guide, tickets and copies of important documents should be on your phone or tablet.
Carbon offset credits are available from some major airlines. These offset programs fund developments in green energy and reforestation and help to neutralize the carbon footprint created by international travel.
Carbon offsets are much cheaper than you think. For example, a round trip from Toronto to London’s Heathrow airport can be offset with a $16 reforestation credit.
When you arrive at your destination, choose trains or bicycles and walk whenever possible. You get to see more and you don’t rack up a large carbon footprint by relying on taxis.
Where possible, rent hybrid or low-emissions vehicles.
Opt for non-stop and daytime flights because they use less fuel.
Select accommodations that are locally owned and run and have eco-living policies which reduce their impact on the environment.
Ask your desk manager what recycling programs the hotel has and how you can participate in them. If you can separate your trash or forgo a room clean, then do so.
Use your towels more than once and take your own toiletries to avoid the waste that all those tiny bottles create.
Do your homework before booking operators to ensure they use trained, local guides and that all tours which feature animals are ethically run.
Take your own reusable water bottle and ask your concierge where you can get reliably clean drinking water while on vacation. The population of Toronto alone consumes an estimated 100 million plastic bottles a year which utilizes about 50 million barrels of oil to produce and transport.
Plan your days so you are near a local market for lunch. Pick up a few local products and enjoy your meal in a park or on the beach rather than at a restaurant. If there are no market options, opt for eating in rather than accumulating the waste that comes with a take-out meal.
Your flight is the biggest contributor to your summer vacation footprint, so consider a ‘staycation’ instead of heading off to far-flung destinations. Planning a holiday closer to home is a wonderful way to save money and reduce your impact on the planet.
Do you have an idea for an article?
Tell us what’s on your mind and your eco-friendly suggestion might be turned into a story.