Fodor’s travel experts have tips to keep your travels green and the Earth clean.
Talk Travel: What are your green travel tips?
For information on Earth Day events and being green, visit www.EarthDay.net.
Beware of Green Washing. Always book with hotels or tour companies who are legitimately touting either eco or sustainable tourism. If you’re not sure if they’re reputable, inquire with a watchdog agency such as Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk) or Green Globe (www.greenglobe.org), or with a conservation organization such as World Wildlife Fund (www.worldwildlife.org). All of them have been actively promoting clarity in standards for green tourism.
Ask about the company’s green philosophies. Do they recycle? Are they energy efficient? How do they address water conservation and waste management? Have local materials been used in building your lodge? Does the menu in the dining room where you take meals use local ingredients? Also find out whether the company provides economic opportunities for local communities. Many have established foundations that make donations to local peoples or wildlife, to which you can contribute.
Look into offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. If you have a choice, take trains over flying. If you must fly, try to take a non-stop flight. You can calculate your CO2 footprint using several online tools. Atmosfair (http://atmosfair.de), Better World Club (www.betterworldclub.com), NativeEnergy (www.nativeenergy.com) all have CO2 calculators that will calculate your emissions for individual flights and ideas on how to offset them.
Be Sensitive to Cultures and Customs. Be clear on the tipping protocol before you travel. Don’t take photos without asking first. Don’t wear revealing clothing, especially in Muslim countries. When visiting religious sites, behave appropriately.
Never litter. Though you may see locals disposing of their garbage willy nilly, you should NOT follow suit.
Think small. Stay in a B&B or locally owned accommodation that benefits the local community.
Purchase local products whenever possible. However, purchasing tourist souvenirs made from animals (i.e. shells, horns, pelts, coral, etc.) is risky and aids in animal and environmental distinction and destruction. If you do purchase something, make sure youâ€™ve checked that it’s legal and that you’ll be able to carry it through customs and back to your home country.
Conserve resources. Use water sparingly and turn off lights when not in use.
Do not feed wild animals. You may think youâ€™re doing them a favor, but your interference will only do them harm.
If you are camping, don’t leave anything behind but your footprint. This means using only biodegradable products like soap, toothpaste, etc. in streams, lakes, etc and carrying out what you carried in.
Sneak Peek: Take a look inside Green Travel: The World’s Best Eco-Lodges and Earth-Friendly Hotels
Photo credit: ©Istockphoto/ Duncan Walker