Green Travel For a Post Quarantine World
As travel begins to reopen, it’s important to revisit the conversation of sustainability when reentering our beloved national parks and recreation areas. We’ve been served some great resources for traveling safely to prevent the spread of COVID-19; however, there’s also a conversation to be had surrounding the protection of our ecosystem. Research has shown that during the times of quarantine, our planet has gotten a much needed break. As travel commences again, consider implementing these tips to ensuring your leisure time is sustainable and protecting our environment.
Why Does It Matter?
National parks are currently attracting around 331 million visitors a year. Not surprisingly, this means a lot of waste and resources used, even when trying to implement sustainability practices. Over time, experts have begun to see some serious changes in landscapes, and anticipate continued threats. Scientists estimate that 118 coastal parks will be vulnerable to sea level changes by 2030. While there are actions in place to promote sustainable practices, there are also steps we can take as citizens to reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
Choosing Your Destination
Deciding where you travel can actually have a big impact on what your carbon footprint becomes. For example, choosing somewhere you can drive to is more sustainable than taking multiple flights. Look for destinations that are bike and pedestrian friendly. Being able to bike or walk through your destination once you’re there will make a big difference.
Once you’ve landed on your destination, consider how you’ll get from place to place. When possible, use public transportation. Many national parks provide free shuttling or busing to and from destinations, so do some research beforehand. The added bonus? They run on clean, compressed natural gas, so you can feel much better about your emissions.
Where you stay and how you lodge can also have a profound impact on your carbon footprint when traveling. For starters, look for accommodations that are Green-Seal certified. These establishments focus on waste minimization, energy conservation, waste water management, pollution prevention, and more. Many national park affiliate hotels are Green-Seal certified, but if you’re more in the outskirts, do some research beforehand to see if they have any other third party certifications. Good ones to look for are the Rainforest Alliance or Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Once you’re there, do what you can to conserve. Turn off lights when possible, set your air or heat to an eco friendly temperature, and adjust when leaving the room for longer periods of time.
When it comes to getting some grub, always eat local! Not only will this help support local businesses, but it will also eliminate fossil fuels needed to transport your food. Do some researching to see what restaurants and establishments are sustainable and source locally, and dine in there when you’re looking for that kind of experience. Alternatively, purchase groceries from local farmers markets. If you’re just needing some supplies to get you by for the day, or items to pack for a quick hike or ride, a local market is the best way to go.
What to Bring
Lastly, consider the simple principles of reduce, reuse, recycle. So much of this begins with what you bring along your journey. Key players include a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags, reusable snack bags, metal straws, Tupperware, and reusable utensils. These items alone will immensely help eliminate waste.