6 Easy Ways To Travel Greener

When it comes to being environmentally responsible, travelers often find themselves in confusing situations. Air travel, hotel stays and eating out are intrinsically bad for the Earth, yet these things are hard to avoid when on the road. So in honor of Earth Day, here are a few quick and easy ways to reduce your footprint while traveling. These tips will not only help you go green, but many of them will save you some green, too.

Ditch The Plastic Bottles

On the road, it’s easy to quench our thirst by reaching for drinks in plastic bottles. But the environmental impact of using these “disposable” containers comes with a far bigger price. Consider taking a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, or at the very least ensure your plastic bottles get put into a recycling bin.
Plan to Go Green
Seek out hotels and tours that carry environmental friendly certifications or memberships. Although the level of “greening” can vary, these companies may participate in water conservation programs, may reduce energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, and may only use local foods and more. Besides selecting accommodations at these types of hotels, travelers can reduce their impact by booking hotels close to public transportation.

Pack Light

There’s some simple math involved here: the lighter the plane, the less gas is used. Take any nonessential items out of your suitcase, which might include guidebooks (especially if you can download a travel guide), and remember to pack layerable clothing instead of separate outfits for each day. Sure, it might not seem like just a few articles of clothing can make a difference, but every little bit counts.

Walk More

Walking isn’t only good for your body, it’s also good for the environment. This mode of exploration is also the best way to discover things you might not have noticed, especially in new cities where you might want to take in your surroundings at a slower pace. If walking isn’t an option, public transportation produces less carbon emissions.

Purchase Eco-Friendlier Souvenirs

The things we bring home have an impact, too. Put money into the local economy by seeking out souvenirs from local artists and craftspeople instead of purchasing magnets and postcards that are likely imported from another country. Never purchase anything made out of a scarce natural resource, and if you think a flower or seashell is beautiful, take a picture of it. For example, in the picture above I was tempted to take home some black sand from a beach in Ecuador, but instead I’ll always have this picture. By focusing on memories instead of physical objects, you’ll leave feeling much better.

Do Your Homework

Before you go, do a little research about the environmental concerns of the location you’re visiting. In many places, water is a scarce environmental resource, and should be used sparingly (and we don’t just mean not always requesting clean towels in your hotel room). In other locations, recycling programs and even trash disposal are unavailable. If you do your homework before setting off, you’ll land with a greater understanding of the place you’re visiting, and hopefully that outlook will rub off on other travelers and locals.

[Photo by blogger Libby Zay]

10 Earth Day Celebrations That Matter

Earth Day is a day when events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment, coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 175 countries. Around the United States, there is probably an Earth Day event close to you. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Here are some of the more notable celebrations around the United States.

Earth Day on the National Mall

The centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of environmentally conscious people from all walks of life and all parts of the country will be joined by civic leaders and celebrities for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement.

Annual Earth Day Silent Auction
On Earth Day, April 22, 2012, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust will be holding our annual silent auction with over 40 items from REI, Caribou Coffee, NVRPA and many more contributors.

Battery Recycling
Arizona has a celebration event featuring recycling drop off for old batteries. Do your part and keep batteries out of the landfill by bringing them into one of their locations for recycling.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado recognition of Earth Day gets FREE rides on Mountain Metropolitan Transit fixed-route city buses on Friday, April 20, 2012. Take this opportunity to try out alternative transportation.

Prairie Village Earth Fair

The Prairie Village Kansas Earth Fair will be held at 75th and Mission Road and will feature vendors, demonstrations, new technology and home improvement designed to lead us to a greener world. Local entertainment and food trucks will be on hand to round out the day’s events.

Celebrate Earth Day weekend in Kansas City, Missouri, and help build a greener KC! Choose from a 2.5- or 3.5-mile route along Brush Creek and the Plaza to support Bridging The Gap and environmental education and action programs in Kansas City. Make an even greater difference and join with family, friends and co-workers to form a team!

Clean Up Your Corner is a grassroots event asking everyone around the world to donate one hour of their time on Earth Day 2012 (April 22) cleaning up their area of the world. This can be accomplished through simply picking up and properly disposing of trash on the street or recycling/repurposing tossed items that can be recycled or repurposed.

“AWAKEN your heart, your mind, don’t let it slip by you.” These are lyrics from JES, asking us to step up, pay attention and be the change in the World around us. We have only one Earth, that we all share, “with one moon circling” over us all.

In celebration of Earth Day, Benevolent Media and SCRAP DC present an afternoon of eco-conscious art and design, featuring a pop-up marketplace of local vendors and interactive workshops led by teaching artists dedicated to inspiring “creative reuse” and environmentally sustainable behavior.

Mark your calendar for Alexandria Earth Day 2012! This year’s celebration will be held at Ben Brenman Park (4800 Brenman Park Dr., Alexandria, VA) on Saturday, April 21, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There is a lot going on with other cities before and after Earth Day. Still, much remains to be done and “there is still the need for volunteers to come together at least once a year to clean up their communities, usually around Earth Day, bagging trash tossed in parks, along streets and into rivers,” says NorthJersey.com. “Some people haven’t gotten the message.”

[Flickr photo by Cayusa]

Five Things You Can Do On Earth Day To Save Natural Resources

Earth Day is upon us, and even if you’re not planning to celebrate our planet’s making it through another year (what global warming?), there are still some simple measures you can take to show your gratitude. Love your Mother, you know?

Whether you’re on the road or at home, the following are smart rules to implement every day of the year:

  • Do laundry at night, after peak electricity usage hours and only wash full loads.
  • Use a travel mug when you purchase your morning coffee and carry a reusble water bottle.
  • Stash reusable shopping bags in your car, purse or backpack and desk.
  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, washing your face, doing dishes or shaving.
  • Switch to e-tickets, e-pay, and other paperless forms of commerce; add your name to no junk mail and catalog lists.

[Photo credit: Flickr user kevin dooley]

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day?

Today is Earth Day, an annual event that is meant to remind us of how fragile our planet’s natural environment is and the importance of protecting it. All across the globe millions of people are taking part in events designed to celebrate this amazing rock we call home, while simultaneously looking for ways to preserve it for the generations that will follow.

At the heart of this year’s Earth Day celebration is the “Billion Acts of Green” initiative in which organizers of the event have asked participants to pledge to take steps to lead a more “green” lifestyle. Those pledges can include something as simple as taking reusable bags to the grocery store or signing a petition to protect the Amazon, or as big as installing solar panels in your home and buying a hybrid car. The thought is that if we all vow to make small changes in our lives to help the environment, our collective efforts will have a lasting impact on the planet. To make your own pledge to the cause simply click here.

Additionally, a host of Earth Day events are taking place across the world today that will give us the opportunity to have a positive impact on the communities we live in. Those events include things like cooperative efforts to clean up local parks or organized recycling drives. There is even a rally scheduled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m. For a complete list of events or to find one in your area, click here.

As travelers, I believe that we understand the importance of protecting the environment as well as anyone. But I also happen to believe that we need to take a more active role in protecting it. After all, we are the ones who are jetting off to visit the far-flung corners of the globe on a regular basis. The next time you take a trip, remember to have a heightened respect for the place you are visiting; take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. That way those destinations that we love so much will be there for future travelers to enjoy too.

Video: Music From Nature

Consider this the anti-electronic music video. Composed by Diego Stocco and produced by Burt’s Bees, the entire two-minute piece was created using sounds from nature: the shaking of branches, the drumming of coconuts, the pouring of rice. Not only will it surely get your shoulders grooving and toes tapping, it may also inspire a greater appreciation of the world around us. Plug in your good headphones or speakers, and enjoy.