The "Green" Hotels Association® is encouraging all travelers to green up their travel. The U. S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million US travelers are "ecologically concerned." This article contains valuable tips for putting concerns into action as you travel.
Pledge to Do Better
As I read through these tips, I found myself guilty of many indescretions against Mother Earth. Are you like me? Do you behave differently away from home? While I use towels for a week at home, I find myself using several per day while in hotels. I toss the plastic cups, open all the toiletries and leave the air conditioning running and lights on. So, for me, reform is just reminding myself to travel as I live. Here are some fantastic tips from the Green Hotels Association. See what you can do to green up your travel!
What You Can Do to Travel Green
- During your hotel stay, let management know that it is not necessary to change your towels and sheets every day. When you leave the room, turn off the AC/heat, lights and TV. Leave the little bottles of shampoo, if you don't use them. Avoid room service.
- Book flights with airlines that recycle the waste created when serving food and beverages to passengers. British Airways, for instance, has a very strong environmental agenda. Southwest Airlines recycles all cabin waste, and was the first to offer electronic ticketing systemwide.
- Use the hotel van instead of renting a car. Use public transportation in your destination city.
Green Tips: Before You Leave Home
- Turn water heater to "Vacation" or lowest setting.
- Turn off AC/heat or adjust the thermostat to protect plants, etc.
- Turn water off at outside connection (to prevent flooding should a pipe break while you're gone). When you return, turn on the water slowly and check for problems.
- Appliances, such as TVs and cable converter boxes, should be unplugged because they can draw or "leak" as much as 40 watts per hour even when they're off.
- Turn icemaker off (lift wire) to prevent flooding should it break while you're away.
- Lower the temperature of waterbed heaters at least ten degrees.
- Stop your newspaper. You may be able to donate it to a school.
Green Tips: Preparing for Green Travel
- Purchase electronic-tickets for airline travel whenever possible. Less waste. If paper tickets are lost, they may cost $75-100 to have replaced.
- Enjoy walking tours. Walk where sensible.
- Use public transportation when available.
- Use the hotel van instead of renting a car. Use the bus or local transit system. Share taxis. Less pollution, and you can leave the driving to others.
- If you're driving, turn your motor off when idling. Encourage tour/bus drivers to turn the motor off when idling.
- Don't allow anything to be thrown out of your car windows--ever.
Green Tips: Things to Do at the Hotel
- Participate in hotel linen programs, or let the hotel know that it's not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day.
- To keep track of which towel belongs to which family member, pack a handful of safety pins and small colored beads. Attach a pin and bead to each towel, using a designated color for each family member. Remove the pins before checkout.
- Reduce the amount of water used for bathing or showering.
- When you leave your hotel room, turn off the AC/heat, lights, TV and radio. Close the drapes.
- Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins.
- Carry a dry cleaning or grocery bag with you in which to carry dirty laundry home.
- Leave little bottles of amenities in the guestroom if unopened.
- Pack a permanent marker and write each person's name on the cups in the hotel bathroom. It's also handy for writing names on water bottles and lots of other things.
- Keep bar soap wrappers and take used bars of soap home.
- Let hotel management know, by speaking directly to management or writing them a note, that you want them to conserve and that you want to participate.
- Instead of leaving bathroom lights (and fans) on all night, it's wise to pack night lights for hotel stays.
- If the hotel provides complimentary newspapers, pass yours on to someone else, or leave it in the lobby for another reader. Ask the hotel to see that it's recycled.
- Be sure to turn off exercise equipment, sauna, whirlpool, Jacuzzi or tennis court lights when you're through.
- Check out of the hotel via the hotel's electronic program available on the TV in some hotels. You can view your bill, approve it, and help reduce paperwork.
- Environmental programs or events may be listed on "things to do in the area" portion of the in-house TV programming.
More Green Tips
Finding Green Hotels in the Southwest
* ULS Report, Use Less Stuff, P. O. Box 130116, Ann Arbor, MI 48113
Material (c) 2003 "Green" Hotels Association®