You and your family are ready for your vacation. You have three weeks off and you are now debating with your partner whether it would be better to travel by airplane or leave by car. Beyond the normal concerns about traveling with your family by any method, you are now, just like everyone else on the planet, starting to consider the footprint you are leaving behind for your children.
Not too long ago, representatives from seventeen different industrialized nations got together to form what is known as the QUANTIFY project so they could sample and study transportation data from the whole continent of Europe. Among the researchers were representatives from England and China. This think tank crunched the available numbers so that they could give a carbon footprint size for each different transport method. Cars and planes figured prominently as they were by far the most prolific mode of personal motorized travel.
There were many results and each of the classes of figures had to be interpreted. This resulted in a number of arguments. This process needed the support of qualified professionals in order to produce the empirical cohesion necessary for proper statistical studies. With nearly nine million Euros in funding, money was not a problem. The researchers were also up to the task and produced some interesting and some shocking observations. Since this was the first time that current climate models have been used to study the impact of modern modes of transportation on the environment, the experts knew that the field was ripe for discovery and discover they did.
During the course of their summations, the researchers found that if you were going to take a long distance trip, like taking your family across the country to California, the trip would be more environmentally friendly if you chose to take a plane. However, later it was determined that this smaller carbon footprint was only temporary. The researchers found out that for the three years immediately following the initial plane flight, the aircraft successfully raised the global thermometer four times as much as if you had just taken the car in the first place.
Environmentalists bounced from happy, to angry, to happy once again because the researchers were quick to note that cars release more CO2 per mile than airplanes, and that since greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere longer, they have a longer-lasting and more powerful effect on climate change. So in the long run, vehicles still come up lacking.
There are still some options for those of you that love your cars. What if your vehicle is a hybrid? You are using less than a quarter of the fuel that a regular engine uses; will that reduce the effect? Making your vehicle more energy efficient and changing its dependence on fossil fuels can make a difference, but since no one individual can tip the scales and cause climate change, the act of reworking your car to be more environmentally friendly will only have an impact if other drivers can be convinced to do the same things you have. Even this, however, will not guarantee success in our pursuit of environmental balance and a long-term, sustainable life on this planet.
We are rapidly using more and more of our natural resources. This is natural in its modernity, but what it means is that although we may use less or leave less behind, there are more of us making the same messes. Therefore the pile of garbage will just continue to grow. There is always the electric car. Ever since its invention early in the history of automobile manufacture, the electric car has had a bad reputation due to the technology present when the idea was first conceived. Sheer size of the equipment necessary to store the energy needed to run the vehicle made the idea less than ideal. Once the design kinks were worked out, great research had to be done on the longevity and power of the battery packs, so that you could travel uphill all day and still be able to drive home.
In the last ten years and more particularly in the last five years, technology regarding power storage has come forward leaps and bounds. Now these vehicles have ranges of up to four hundred miles on a single charge. The network of charging stations and home electrical outlets is growing so we will be able to service large regions of the United States. However, before you begin to celebrate, there is one more thing to consider regarding electric cars and their batteries. Sure the vehicle does not use fossil fuels to propel its frame, but it still needs a very large battery. Batteries are difficult to process after their use. In fact, it has been discovered that most batteries that have been returned to a depot for recycling end up in dumps. Now, think of the rate that we go through vehicles during our lifetimes. The batteries in these vehicles are toxic and it will take more than your life time for them to breakdown in a dump. The end determination has yet to reach a unanimous and successful conclusion.
It is a thought on many of our minds today. We all want to do our best to preserve the world’s natural beauty for generations to come. Yet, finding the best “green” solutions to our lifestyle requirements can be difficult. This article aims to provide information on choosing the most eco-friendly accommodations, when work, family or fun have you on the go.
Search For It Finding a “green” hotel doesn’t have to be difficult at all. In fact, the experts are taking much of the burden off of you by providing easy to use resources for finding that ideal spot that is both accommodating and also dedicated to preserving the planet. Expedia, a leading online travel site, for instance, is incorporating a search feature that makes it possible for the user to search for hotel rooms and rentals with only the most eco-conscious companies and organizations. Whether you are looking for something rural, quiet, and quaint, or something in the hubbub of a large city, this site will not disappoint. From the extremes of man-powered generators to those that simply make efforts to reduce waste and cut down on energy and water consumption, if it is out there, Expedia has very likely found it. Furthermore, their Traveler’s Guide to Going Green also provides insightful tips on other ways to shrink your global footprint while on the road. The non-profit organization behind Expedia’s revamped “green” approach is Sustainable Travel International. The group was founded in 2002 with the intention of spreading eco-friendly practices. Specifically, the company aims to assist travelers and travel accommodations in efforts to maintain a globally responsible way of life while on the go. This group hosts lectures, distance learning, executive education, and companywide seminars that all revolve around the “green” concept.
It isn’t just Expedia and Sustainable Travel International, however, that are stepping up to help travelers and accommodations make the morally wise decisions. There are other websites that actually rank hotels and short term rentals on their eco-friendliness. Many travel related sites are now offering ranking systems based on how hotels perform by “green” standards. Do they provide lotion and shampoo in recyclable bottles? Are those beauty products eco-friendly or do they contain potentially harmful chemicals? Are the bed linens made from recycled materials? Do they have water use regulators in place to limit the water usage each day? Have they installed energy efficient heating and cooling equipment? There are many questions like this to be answered. Some hotels go above and beyond, some just do a little, but both are better than those accommodations that continue to be wasteful and to do nothing to help in such a worthy, meaningful cause.
You Know it’s Green, When it Asks you To Be You don’t have to rely on others to tell you what hotels are most likely to make efforts to preserve this planet. Some hotels are so obviously concerned with the cause that they go to serious extremes to encourage their guests to act similarly. For instance, the Elan Inn in Hangzhou, China provides gorgeous, lush accommodations, but that is not all. This hotel also offers rewards points to guests who accomplish “green” tasks during their stay. For making small efforts that make a big impact over time, guests of the hotel receive rewards points, which buy them certain services or can even be cashed in for deals on future stays. The list of meaningful acts include bringing beauty products from home rather than using the hotels, using a towel more than once, and keeping air conditioning and heating set at reasonable temperatures. More information about the system is available by speaking with the hotel, but one thing is certain; this hotel is an organization dedicated to being eco-friendly.
Don’t Pay More It seems today that being “green” is such a trend that people are forced to spend more to practice good moral behavior, but that doesn’t have to be the case when finding eco-friendly accommodations. Remember that part of being environmentally conscious is reducing energy and water consumption. These expenses are among the highest for hotel chains. Less use of each by visitors would actually be saving the organization money. In fact, for most hotels, energy costs account for more than fifteen percent of overall expenditures. When one stops to consider how many salaries must be paid to keep the large operations running smoothly, it would seem that fifteen percent is a large cut from the pie. Let’s say that a large hotel chain, prior to instituting “green” changes, spends one million dollars per year on all expenses (this figure is likely way off base, but is simply being used to make a point). If energy consumption accounts for fifteen percent of that, then the hotel chain is spending one hundred fifty thousand dollars on energy. If they could cut consumption by just ten percent, they would stand to save fifteen thousand dollars. One can see how green efforts could make good fiscal sense as well. It also stands to reason that “green” hotel rooms should not cost more than the standard rooms.
There are so many places to visit in this world. Whether you love the ocean and want to swim with the whales, you want to challenge yourself by transcending mountains, or you are aiming for the icy tundras, there is likely the perfect get-away awaiting you. However, it seems today that so many of these places that one goes to get away from everyday life incorporate so much of the everyday that they aren’t an escape at all. Vacations are meant to rejuvenate, re-energize, and re-motivate a person. Yet, these are difficult things to accomplish when one travels with technology. Computers, cell phones, and wi-fi hot spots provide a never-ending stream of stress to our lives no matter where we go. That is why this article aims to point out the best “out of the way,” “one with nature,” “back to basics” resorts for the person that truly does want to “Get away.”
Agritourism It has always been the case that people flock to busy, touristy areas for vacations because they offer the warmest temperatures, the best ocean views, or the best forms of entertainment, but as people begin to find value in the slower pace and quieter ways of yesteryear, the idea of vacation is taking on a new meaning. Suddenly, there is an interest in an occupation that was long considered to be lowly. The farming culture of America – especially small farms — is beginning to receive some of the credit and attention they deserve. Furthermore, it is becoming more common for couples and families to find peace and tranquility in the ways of their ancestors as they use their vacation time to visit a working farm. There are several locations around the country that offer this sort of opportunity to those looking for an escape from the fast paced business world or the hectic ways of city life, but the most popular happen to be those in Pennsylvania. Known for its Amish and Mennonite populations, there are several areas of this large state that have been long recognized as sleepy towns well worth a visit. Now, however, those people visiting each year are taking a closer look at the dots on the horizon. There are many small working farms that have been in existence for decades or even centuries that sit in the rural areas of Pennsylvania. Some of these are now opening their doors to people looking for a chance to experience that way of life. Visitors can try their hand at milking cows, picking fresh eggs for their breakfast, riding horses, and even petting a baby pig or two. There are many activities done on a farm that are simply not seen anywhere else and this is the perfect way for a person to open his or her eyes to a completely different way of life.
There is another major difference between a farm vacation and one on a touristy beach that you may have overlooked, however. These vacations typically require staying in a real farmhouse along with the people operating the farm. While this adds to the true adventure, it does mean that you might have to work a bit harder to find available accommodations. If you are interested in this truly “green” vacation, then your first stop will likely be the PA Farm Stay Organizations’ website.
Hot Springs and Spa Ok, so maybe you just aren’t the farming type and the thought of donning denim and carrying a shovel are the furthest things from your mind. Nevertheless, you can certainly find a relaxing vacation that will take you away from all things work related without making the trip to Pennsylvania.
How does a spa sound? Hot tubs and saunas, facials and waxing, massages and manicures; spas are the epitome of self-renewal. In fact, there are very few things that could make a spa vacation any better. However, a spa trip to Colorado Springs could very well be one of those things. There are a few different spa resorts located there, but among the “greenest” is BroadMoor. Along with a state-of-the-art golf course, this resort has award-winning spa experiences and better yet, it is only a short drive from the natural hot water springs that have people travelling from all over the world. Where else can one literally become one with nature by walking into ultra soothing, all natural, hot water in the wide open, cool, crisp air. Here you can spend the day receiving hour long massages, stretching and strengthening with invigorating yoga workouts, or receiving the ultimate in skin makeovers. Then, in the evening, as the temperatures begin to drop slightly, you can head outdoors and into nature like never before. This is what vacationing is supposed to be all about – true relaxation.
There are many hotels and resorts around the world that are making efforts to be more eco-friendly today. By conserving energy and water, reducing waste, and making small changes to the products bought in bulk, these hotels and resorts are able to reduce their global footprint and also save a great deal of money However, sometimes a person doesn’t just want a recyclable lotion bottle or a carpet made of recycled materials. Instead, there are times in life, when we simply want to escape from the modern conveniences that have diluted the peace and tranquility that mankind once knew.
For those moments in time, a person doesn’t just want to find a “green” hotel, he or she is looking for a truly “back to basics” approach to resort living. There are a few resorts that not only focus entirely on providing a comfortable, luxurious setting, with an eco-friendly philosophy, but that have worked to involve the visitors in an entirely new and enjoyable break from everyday life.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort Sitting on the island of Vanua Levu is a gorgeous get-away in the center of a giant coconut plantation. Visitors can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the Pacific waters of Savusavu Bay before returning to their room for a truly unique ambiance. Materials used in building this popular vacation destination were produced locally and much of the food comes from the resort’s own gardens. If that isn’t enough, employees are willing to take visitors on explorations of the coral reefs, explain the delicate nature of the coastal eco-system, and even give couples and families the opportunity to do some planting. Through “green” acts and globally responsible education, this hotel has earned its spot atop the list of the most “green” getaways.
Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat If Fiji isn’t your scene, perhaps you would be better suited for a stay down under. The Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat still offers many of the most popular selling features of most luxury resorts – such as a giant infinite pool, poolside bars, and oceanfront views, but it is far from ordinary. A stay in these highly stylized eco-tents will provide you the comfort of a hotel at a fraction of the global footprint. Track your energy usage with provided monitors, which won’t be much thanks to a state-of-the-art solar power system, and be sure not to disrupt the local eco-system as you walk along raised planks rather that trampling local foliage. Oh, and rather than taking off on a gas-burning speed boat, perhaps you would rather take a walk through the wilderness to experience the many forms of life that Australia has to offer – both along the coastline and in the deeper bush areas.
Hotel Punta Islita Nearly hidden by lush, full, green foliage is a small resort offering a myriad of options to its visitors. Accommodations include several different room arrangements as well as Casitas, which have the likeness of adorable cottages. With the latter, guests can enjoy a private garden and dining terrace. However, all guests can take advantage of swimming in crystal clear waters or a visit to the Casa Spa. One can even ride horseback along the coastline. This resort has two objectives in mind – to offer visitors the greatest sources of fun and relaxation and to preserve the local environment. They have turned what was poorly treated land, robbed of its natural beauty, into something that is recognized worldwide for its lush and clean feel. So, not only does the hotel aim to maintain a global preservation stance, but they have also worked to correct the damage already done by others.
Nihiwatu Resort of Indonesia It might be quaint and rather exclusive, but that is exactly how they want it to be. The Nihiwatu resort sits on more than four hundred acres of preserved land. The resort aims to keep that land clean and protected much like the nearby Stone Age sites and villages, which have been left unaltered for centuries. Set in an area where the culture is very near that which existed hundreds of years before, Nihiwatu fits right in with traditional methods of growing foods and building structures made of locally manufactured goods. This is one place that will provide unmatched entertainment without robbing the visitor of the natural feel of its community’s way of life. The best part is that this resort values self preservation as much as it does eco-friendliness. Visitors will walk away with a renewed sense of self after participating in yoga, Pilates and meditation courses, which aim to make the person one with the world.
So, next time you are prepared to get away from everyday life, do so in a place that is truly unique and different from what you experience on any given day. Choose a location that values the ways of old, that works to preserve its local surroundings, and a place that wants to do its part to better that world. There is nothing quite like a “green” vacation.
If you are like the majority of Americans, then you are likely dreaming of your vacation in 2011. Most Americans do attempt to get away at least once per year – even if it means only travelling a few miles from home – but for those that try to follow a “green” way of life, travel introduces a few new challenges. However, there are ways to limit your environmental impact, even while on the road. This article discusses three great ways to do just that.
Rent Scooters To Get Around Instead Of Renting A Car It is very common practice today for people to rent a car while on vacation. It makes it more convenient to move between entertainment venues, allows the people a sense of independence, and can make it easier for them to experience the real way of life in the area they choose. However, cars are known as enemies to the environment and while electric and hybrid cars are now available to consumers, they are not always readily available from the rental company. Therefore, you may be forced to drive a car of average size and average carbon emissions. That’s not really good news for the eco-friendly traveler. Does that mean that you should go without personal transportation on vacation? Maybe it does for some people. However, those aren’t the only two options. Many popular vacation destinations today offer another alternative for transportation. The motor scooter has become synonymous with tourists in many locations. These little bipeds are easy to use, can carry two adults, and offer a much “greener” approach to getting around.
Aside from producing far less negative impact on the environment, scooters are far more economically sound rentals than most cars. The average five-day car rental for a mid-sized car varies from place to place, but it is not unusual to drop two hundred fifty dollars (perhaps even more after hidden taxes and fees). That is fifty dollars per day. That car will go about twenty-five miles per gallon at best. On the other hand, a motor scooter rental usually starts at about twenty-five dollars per day and those scooters can go up to eighty miles per gallon. You will likely spend less than half as much when renting a scooter instead of a car.
There are, of course, down sides to driving a moped. If it rains, you are going to get wet and there is far less room to stash a bag, purse, or souvenir. However, when one considers the impact on the environment, the monetary savings, and the quick in and out nature of a scooter, the down sides don’t really tilt the scale.
Reuse Containers They may be small, but travel containers come in a wide variety of shapes and serve a wide variety of purposes. Even if each of the more than one hundred million vacationers each year carried just one travel sized bottle and tossed it, the effects would be astounding on a landfill. Almost all of the travel bottles do end up there. So, to help reduce the amount of plastic building up in landfills as a result of these convenient travel companions, there are a couple of things you can do. If you aren’t flying, consider taking your large bottles from the shower. They may take up more room in your bag, but it will be a lot less wasteful. If you just can’t live with the added burden, then consider using small, washable Tupperware containers instead. In this way, the containers can go on to serve a different purpose after your vacation and won’t be trash bound. If you are flying, consider reusing the travel bottles by refilling them with the shampoo and conditioner from your shower. All of these options will save you some money as travel bottles don’t usually come very cheap. The smallest bottles can often cost nearly half the price of an average sized bottle. Yet, you will get well more than twice the product in the bigger bottle.
Bring a Thermos The most commonly bought item while on vacation is a bottle of water. Rather than heading to the vending machine or convenient mart each time you feel a bit thirsty, you can reach for your travel thermos. These are convenient while on vacation or just in everyday life. One can easily refill them with water from the hotel or from a gallon jug of water purchased upon arrival. The gallon of water will likely cost less at the grocery store than a twenty-ounce bottle of water will at an amusement park and it will refill your thermos several times. Furthermore, people who carry thermoses are far less likely to fall victim to dehydration, as these little travel companions are good reminders to take a sip from time to time.