Green travel encompasses a wide variety of practices that support sustainability. While many of these are not directly related to energy efficiency, two of your biggest travel choices are: where to stay and what transportation to use. As our society continues to become more eco-conscious, the list of green offerings continues to grow, making it easier than ever to travel the planet while being kind to it.
Hotels can earn green certifications for a range of sustainability factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, and environmental impact. One of the most well known designations comes from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. These hotels have been built or renovated with best-in-class practices that conserve resources and promote renewable energy. Some other established green hotel designations come from Green Key, Green Seal and Energy Star.
TripAdvisor makes it easy to find green hotels with their GreenLeaders program. You simply “look for the leaf” – a special badge placed on a green hotel’s listing page. When you click on the leaf, a window comes up where you can see that hotel’s green practices and certifications. Expedia offers a whole microsite on green travel, complete with hotel options that “balance environmental protection and social responsibility – without sacrificing luxury.”
If you have to fly to your destination, fly nonstop, as the plane’s takeoff and landing are a significant percentage of its carbon emissions. Taking the train is a better way to go, or driving, though the type of car you drive obviously makes a difference. Once you’re at your destination, consider using public transit, biking or walking instead of taking a cab or renting a car. If you do rent a car, go with the smallest one to fit your needs or rent a hybrid.
For more green travel tips, check out these on Sustainable Travel International’s online magazine.