Going Green Tips for Holidays

With globalisation and more and more people travelling further distances for leisure, going green tips for holidays become more and more crucial.

In your excitement of preparing and actually going on your long-awaited trips (whether within the country or beyond), you might not have realised that holiday-makers actually leave a substantial trail of carbon footprints behind.

Starting from the things you purchase in preparation for your trip, to the mode of transport (especially the plane) you take to reach your destination, to the things you do at your destination and when you return, you leave your mark behind – in the form of pollution, resource over-utilisation, and even contributions to further to global warming and climate change.

But that is not to say that you should not travel and see the world. It is important to journey to other parts of the world, broaden your horizons, see what living is like for others, learn from their experiences and bring the positive aspects back to your homeland and into your lifestyles.

But at the same time, you and I need to make an effort to ensure that we minimize the footprints we leave behind when travelling. After all, the ability to travel (especially for leisure) is very much a privilege. This privilege should not be abused and further disadvantage those who are not so fortunate in the first place (through destroying this planet that also belongs to them).

So here are some going green tips you can adopt for your next holiday.

Going green tips on where to go

If you are thinking of places to visit for your holiday, why not consider going to less tourist-commercialised sites where you will come into contact with people who seek to make holistic living their way of life?

In this way, not only will you be taking a good break from your from work, you can also learn invaluable lessons on how to lead a holistic and eco-friendly life, and bring these knowledge back at your homeland.

Brown’s Field is one such destination in Japan.

Spread over two acres of farmland in eastern Chiba, Brown’s Field is a retreat for those who wish to learn about body and mind detoxification and living a eco-friendly life. Brown’s Field is owned by a macrobiotic chef/author/teacher, Deco Nakajima, and her photojournalist husband, Everett Brown. The couple seeks to share ways of simple living in harmony with the natural environment, through opening up their estate to visitors all over the world.

Another example is the Yachana Lodge in Ecuador. Yachana Lodge is a luxury eco travel resort in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Visitors at the lodge get to explore about 4,300 acres of protected tropical rain forest and learn about rainforest animals, medicinal plants and other flora from indigenous English-speaking guides. In addition, the lodge uses alternative solar energy for much of its electricity needs. The success of eco efforts like Yachana Lodge will serve as an incentive for communities to preserve their natural rainforests and their heritage.

Besides, Brown’s Field and Yachana Lodge, there are actually many other similar holistic-living destinations in other parts of Japan, Taiwan, America and all over the world. Read about other holistic-living places in the world.

Going green tips on where to stay

One of the important going green tips is to choose to stay in an ecolodge or ecohotel, as much as possible.

Basically, ecolodges or ecohotels are accommodations that make important provisions in its design and building in order to minimise its impact on the environment by meeting the following criteria:

  • ecological sustainable
  • proven contribution to conservation
  • provision of environmental educational programs
  • incorporation of cultural considerations
  • provision of an economic return to the local community

Ecolodges are often located in more “natural” sites like within a forest or jungle, and their designs usually employ traditional building methods applied by skilled craftsmen in that locality. In turn, ecohotels are often located in less “natural” sites like within a town or city.

Some ecolodges and ecohotels are built using sustainable resources, for example, rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo, recycled materials (eg. recycled metal) and other products that are non-toxic. The building materials may also be extracted and manufactured locally to minimize carbon footprint incurred in the transportation process.

Eco-friendly practices might be in place in some of these green accommodations. For example, organic or locally grown food may be served. The green lodge or hotel may also encourage its staff and guests to practice energy saving going green tips.

With the rise in the demand for ecolodges and ecohotels, many certification programmes have been developed in different countries to establish credentials for these green efforts.

For example, the EU Ecolabel is used by the European Union for hotels that have met strict environmental requirements, such as the use of renewable energy sources, an overall reduction in energy and water consumption, measures to reduce waste. In Canada, the Audubon Green Leaf Eco-Rating is used to independently audit hotels for their environmental practice standards.

Nevertheless, not all these programmes are reputable. In addition, many hotels that have high environmental standards never bother to get accredited.

Hence, an important going green tips before you make any hotel booking is to do some research on the hotels you have short-listed. Find about more about what makes them eco-friendly, as they have claimed.

Going green tips on how to travel around

When it comes to travelling to or around your holiday destination, taking the plane is the most harmful when it comes to carbon footprints. In other words, opt for local holidays if you can.

For your local holidays, consider taking public transport like the tour bus or train, because they leave behind the smallest carbon footprint per passenger when there is a substantial number of passengers on the same ride. This is especially so if you are travelling alone.

Drive around on your own only if you are going on a group trip. Otherwise, the carbon footprint that you leave behind could be as bad as taking the plane.

If you are driving around, use a fuel-efficient car that emits less harmful exhaust gases. Driving a low fuel-efficient car is also as bad as taking the plane. Check out what are some green driving tips.

There may however be times when you will need travel further and the use of transport modes like the tour buses, trains and cars are not feasible. For example, when the destination is thousands of miles away, or when you need to cross an ocean to reach the destination, or when the destination is not accessible via roads and it is too delicate (eg. nature reserves) to be trampled on by the Jeep.

Then you can consider adopting the following going green tips for travelling via plane:

  • fly direct whenever possible. The amount of fuel used, and hence the amount of harmful emissions produced, would be less. This is because the distance covered would likely be shorter, and the amount of fuel used at cruising altitude is far less than when taking off or at landing.
  • combine trips if possible. Combine several meetings or purposes within that single trip.
  • choose your airline wisely. Different airlines use different equipment for similar routes. This variation can bring about different levels of emissions for the same trip.
  • avoid the temptation of flying by business class. The extra legroom per passenger onboard means greater carbon footprint per passenger on the trip.
  • travel light. Every additional pound of luggage means additional fuel burned to reach the destination.
  • check out the bio-fuel planes.
  • offset your carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting is about taking measures to counter the effects of carbon dioxide emission, such as through projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation. Engage a carbon offsetting service to help you calculate how much money you need to offset the carbon emitted when you take the plane, and then donate the amount to carbon off-setting projects that seek to counter the effects of carbon dioxide emitted.

Going green tips for hotel stays

It is not only about where to stay. It is also about how you stay.

If you are not able to locate an ecolodge or ecohotel in the vincity of your interest, then the least you can do is to practice some of the following going green tips during your stay at the conventional hotel:

  • unplug as many electrical appliances as possible as when they are not in use – this is to reduce energy wastage through “vampire energy”, which is the electricity that appliances consume when they are in the standby mode.
  • instruct the house-keeping staff at hotel to not replace your towels and bed sheets until you have specifically asked for replacement. Alternatively, you can use the “do not disturb” sign.
  • bring and use your own toiletries in small re-usable bottles. This would help reduce the need for the hospitality industry to provide the numerous small plastic bottles of shampoos and soap, which usually end up in the trash. Besides, your own toiletries are likely to be better for your hair and skin.
  • refrain from using the bath tub. While the bath tub may look enticing, it uses many times more water than a short 15 minutes shower. Save water, as you would, in your home. Take a short bath instead.
  • leave freebies (eg. pens, notepads, toiletries etc) behind – they can be re-used by the hotel, so that new ones do not need to be produced.
  • check if the hotel provides any recycling bins. If they do, use them! Otherwise, you might need to consider bringing back some of your (light) recyclable trash home for recycling later on.

Going green tips for shopping overseas

You have a potential to make a difference even as you are shopping overseas.

Here are some going green tips when shopping:

  • buy things only when you really need them. Some tourist destinations may offer very good buys, because of lower standards of living, lower production costs or weaker currencies etc. But there are not reasons to over-buy, and in the process waste resources. Buy only what you will use.
  • Refrain from buying small not-so-useful decorative souvenirs for relatives and friends on your vacation, unless they are meaningful. Very often these momentos are chucked at a corner after some time, and would only add to the trash created. If you must get gifts, consider healthy food gifts instead. Buy gifts that will be used by the receivers.

Check out more going green tips when shopping.

Going green tips for your home (when you are away)

While you are away overseas, what happens back at your home can make a difference. One of the important going green tips is to ensure that all electrical appliances are switched off AND unplugged.

This is to conserve energy that would have been otherwise wasted due to “vampire energy”. This “vampire electricity” can account for up to 10% of your electricity usage.

Other going green tips you can adopt include suspending your newspaper supply, or diverting it to the local library or school during your vacation.

If you have other going green tips and would like to share it with others, do contact us.

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