Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Pictures

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Watch out, world!  Ecotourism is a rising trend in travel as tourists are eager to preserve beautiful sites all over the globe.  Environmentally conscious individuals are doing their part in maintaining nature by participating in eco-friendly tourism programs in various countries.  However, there’s more that can be done!  Use the following tips to make your vacation as green as it can be.

Booking your trip

  • Many hotels are going green! When researching, look for ones that are environmentally conscious.  Here are some questions you may want to ask:
    • Does the hotel actively recycle?
    • In what ways does the hotel reduce consumption (i.e. energy-efficient lighting, eco-friendly power sources, water reducing appliances)?
  • Public transportation is always better than taking your car, but the best ways to travel are by bus or train.  If you do travel by plane, choose a direct flight to cut emissions.
  • Purchase tickets online to avoid delivery charges and fees if the tickets are lost.

Before you leave:

  • Unplug appliances – even if they are off, they can leak 40 watts per hour.
  • Shut down your PCs – don’t keep them on “sleep” mode!
  • Pack an environmental friendly water bottle in your carry-on to avoid buying multiple plastic bottles.  You can purchase reusable bottles from companies like Sigg and Klean Kanteen.
  • Pack your own snacks so you don’t have to resort to unhealthy, overpriced food at rest stops, airports, etc.  I usually buy organic, prepackaged burritos to make just before I leave as a meal on the go.  Other slow-burning snacks include granola, trail mix, nuts.

At the hotel

  • Instead of throwing your towel on the floor after one shower, use it multiple times during your stay and inform management that you won’t need a daily towel change.  The same goes for changing sheets.  This will help cut water use.
  • If you’re staying in a warm place, turn off the AC and open the windows.
  • Switch off the lights on your way out.
  • Recycle.
  • Some hotels allow you to review your bill on the hotel television.  Use this option (if available) to save paper.

Traveling and Sightseeing

  • Rent a hybrid car when you go sightseeing! You’ll save money on gas and cut emissions.
  • If you’re traveling from place to place, take a train instead of a plane.
  • Exploring one area?  Skip the tour bus and opt for a walking tour (remember to bring your sneakers!).  You’ll also get a greater chance to interact with the locals and experience the culture if you’re on foot.
  • Purchase local products, but be sure that they are animal and environmentally friendly.
  • As always, wait until you find a garbage can before you dispose of your trash
  • Don’t forget to bring your reusable bottle and digital camera!
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