Vinnie Van GO and his team think every day is Earth Day! We asked experts from around the world for their tips, ideas and products to help people travel green year round:
Corey Determan, owner of Deep Horizons Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise, specializes in responsible travel. He says going green starts with choosing the right destination and tour providers. An agent that specializes in responsible travel should already have a portfolio of hotels/resorts, ecolodges, and tour providers from which clients can choose based on their interests and comfort levels.
“It’s important that travelers make well-informed purchasing decisions to ensure they are not supporting harmful tourism, especially in countries where enforcement of environmental and conservation laws leaves something to be desired,” notes Determan. “Be wary, too, of the size of your group. Large groups – be it family, social club or even birding groups – can be disruptive to the local environment from both physical impact to the ecosystem and from noise pollution in otherwise pristine areas.”
Brittany Gelbach of Children International told us about Clean the World, an initiative for participating hotels to recycle soap and hygiene products discarded everyday by the hospitality industry. The used soap is treated, sterilized and re-manufactured into new bars of soap. The soap is then distributed by nonprofits like the one she works for and to families in impoverished communities. The soap, along with education on safe hygiene practices, will help prevent the spread of disease and potentially save lives. Check out the website for information and ways to get involved, including volunteering to build hygiene kits or going on a soap distribution trip.
Travel blog Wireless Vagabond’s author, Ferdinand Goetzen, gave us a heads up about offsetting your carbon footprint when you fly. There are charities that focus specifically on making simple changes to the lives and work of people in developing countries that have a huge impact on carbon emissions (e.g. giving them greener tools or utensils to work with). Participating charities Goetzen recommends are Climate Care, Green-e, Climate Action Reserve and Carbon Fund.
The charities let you enter your mode of transportation and distances and calculate your carbon footprint. They then calculate how much you need to donate to specific projects in order to compensate your carbon emissions by directly reducing the same carbon emissions elsewhere.
Save the trees and opt for e-tickets, SMS tickets and e-boarding passes, suggests Teresa Walsh from Cazana.com, a UK startup. She also says to be sure and use recycle bins properly at the airport and of course – avoid plastic! Bring your own bottle and fill it up at the airport.
What kinds of bottle? Sasha Naslin founder and travel blogger with The Alternative Travel Guide recommends Fill & Go Bottle by Brita. This bottle is reusable, dishwasher safe, BPA-free,and has a filter disc that allows you to fill in your bottle anywhere to turn tap water anywhere into clean, tasty and safe-to-drink water.
Guillaume, founder of Barcelona Slow Travel recommends travelers bring their own eco-friendly contained food on the plane to reduce packaging waste. Plus, check to see if airlines are recycling when staff collects garbage. He notes most do not; so take trash with you and put them in recyclable containers in the airport. Once at your destination, eat in local restaurants and avoid the chains.
“Try seasonal dishes cooked with local ingredients: it’s better for you, for the planet and for the local economy,” he adds.
Steven Hirsch told us about his favorite new gadget: The DART from FINsix. It’s the world’s smallest travel charger that is a a quarter of the size of traditional bulky laptop adapter. Because DART also comes with a USB port, users can simultaneously charge phones or tablets as well. At 100-240V, it can be
used globally, and really ideal for minimizing the number of charging devices you carry around.
Plus, it’s the most efficient charger that exists running at 95% efficiency, compared to a standard laptop charger at 87%.
“When you combine that with the fact that you’re not even using a separate phone charger, the amount of energy saved really adds up over time,” says Hirsch.
Go ahead and book the more expensive non-stop flight guilt-free, says Max Robinson of Mahlatini Safari. Traveling on a nonstop flight uses far less fuel than a one that involves stops, so it is far more eco-friendly. Also, book flights on newer, more efficient planes if possible, because they use less fuel.
Vinnie says to make your entire trip green from start to finish, noting that a shared ride is a green ride. It reduces gas consumption, lowers fuel emissions from individual automobiles and limits airport curb congestion. In addition, many of GO’s operators have hybrid and propane powered vehicles.