"Take only memories, leave only footprints."
- Chief Seattle
If making “green” choices is a priority, you can go green with your greenbacks and with your choices. In addition to destinations that appeal to the eco- and agri-tourist, today you can support those companies that are environmentally conscious.
Major hotel chains, cruise lines, airlines and tour operators are definitely becoming more and more environmentally aware and taking action to prove it. “Environmental stewardship and sustainability” are industry buzzwords. From asking you to conserve by reusing linens to advances in fuel/emissions reduction and wastewater treatment, the travel industry is making enormous strides.
As recently reported by Lena Katz, on NBCnews.com: “The green-washing of the American hospitality industry has hit such a saturation point that it’s become almost obligatory for hotels to distribute placards in every room, asking customers to think twice about sending linens and towels to the laundry. Kitchen gardens, electric vehicle charging stations and soap-recycling programs are just a few of the ‘sustainability’hooks that hotels use as visible proof of their eco-friendliness.”
They all realize that, not only is it the right thing to do, but it it’s in their best interests to protect the very destinations that they serve. It can be anything from using shower heads and toilets that use less water to building more energy efficient airplanes and ships. You can find out more and support those companies by going to their website and googling keywords such as “environment” and “sustainability”.
If you want to be a little more hands on, there are many options depending on the level of involvement that you want to experience.:
If you would rather work on a farm milking cows or making cheese than take a city tour, you aren’t alone. Interest in farm or rural vacations has grown 30 percent in the last 20 years (source: TravelAgentCentral.com). This trend has more and more tour companies offering eco and agri-tourism vacation options are gaining momentum as is the travel industry's growing environmental awareness.
Eco-tours: Eco-tourism is booming. From your own backyard to across the continents, you can literally travel anywhere in the world and choose any level of involvement that you want! Among the many resources you can find on line, there’s an International Ecotourism Society, www.ecotourism.org, offering a myriad of destinations and opportunities.
Eco-itineraries: Many tour companies offer eco-itineraries and tours. Again, if you google “eco-tourism”, you can find a wealth of interesting possibilities. Caravan Tours, Kensington Tours, and Abercrombie & Kent are among the many reputable tour companies offering fabulous itineraries. Also, once at your destination, you can choose eco-friendly excursions and eco-adventures and tours.
Work on an organic farm: WWOOF, “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” is an organization founded in 1971 in England. You can volunteer to work on an organic farm in exchange for room and board almost anywhere in the world. To learn more about their program, visit their website: www.wwoof.org. In addition there are other organizations offering hands-on farm experiences. Simply google “working on organic farms” and you will find a host of possibilities including: www.backdoorjobs.com and www.growfood.com.
Other ways to “be green”:
Support the local economy wherever you are: Go to local markets. Shop and buy locally made and produced souvenirs and foodstuffs. Visit local co-ops and farms.
Check with local colleges/schools that offer programs in related areas such as environmental studies and permaculture. Get involved with and support local organizations and programs.
At the very least…do your part wherever you go. Remember: You are a guest. Be a thoughtful and considerate one.
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(Note re: websites cited - this list is by no means all inclusive nor is it an endorsement.)
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