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Earth Day Solutions: 6 Steps to Greener Travel

Since Earth Day began in the 1960s (it picked up speed in the nineties) environmental consciousness has moved from anti-litter campaigns to an anti-carbon worldview. Not good news for travelers' peace of mind: I've never been a litter-bug, but my guilty conscience keeps reminding me of plastic water bottles, unnecessary jet fuel, disposable cameras and lots of pretty shopping bags.

Finding Peace of MindFinding Peace of MindThis Earth Day is my environmental New Year's Eve. I promise to follow these environmental resolutions to the letter, and have a greener record by next year.

 

1. Plan wisely

Choose destinations that are close to home. This year I could afford a quick European jaunt, but I'm replacing it with camping and a Montreal trip instead. We'll take a car (packed to the brim) for the camping trip, but we'll take the train to Quebec.

 

2. Budget for food

Restaurant meals are more expensive than fast food, but pack way less packaging. Opt for places using real dishes, or street food which often has just a napkin. Balance the books by alternating expensive meals with dirt cheap supermarket finds.

 

3. Pack lightly

Extra weight means extra fuel (even in your hybrid car). Evaluate your luggage and leave the non-essentials behind. If you have to buy extra gear (that you'll probably never use again) get it second hand to save on manufacturing costs.

 

4. Beware of artificial environmentalism

Bottled water that "supports the rainforest" doesn't. Carbon offsets don't replace good planning. If you're picking between two polluting airlines, feel free to pick the one with a minor green aspect, but don't kid yourself. Make the right choices first, and plant the extra trees second.

 

5. Conserve at home

Use less, buy less, and throw out less. Just like a diet, regular good habits help to compensate for the bad ones - and they make sure you're back on track sooner.

 

6. And take those habits on vacation

Turn out the lights; avoid packaging and disposables, and all the other environmental habits you've learned at home. Getting to the destination has enough of an environmental impact that it doesn't need to be compounded by buying tacky plastic souvenirs. If I shop on vacation, it'll be for stuff I actually need.

 

Switching to an eco friendly lifestyle isn't going to make me carbon neutral. And I'm ok with that. But I do need to make my vacation choices a lot more carefully.

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Eco travel is the way to go. The problem is we have to for go convenience and creature comforts to obtain it.

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