Ecotravel/Ecotourism Tips

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What can I do to green my transportation choices?

Choose mass transit instead of a personal vehicle.

Ethical travel can mean taking the bus, the train or the subway instead of driving your personal vehicle or taking a taxi whenever possible. If you are flying instead of taking a private aircraft choose an airline that is going to your destination. Flying is considered to be the most environmentally destructive form of transportation because of the huge amounts of fossil fuels that aircraft use. Aircrafts also release a higher level of emissions into the atmosphere than ground vehicles. The good news is that green air travel is on everyone's agenda, thus the airlines are working on ways to make airplanes that are more environmentally friendly. They are doing this by finding ways to increase fuel efficiency and by committing to cutting down on the length of time that an airplane is allowed to idle. Each time you choose a form of mass transportation you are eliminating some pollution, becoming less petroleum dependent and choosing a more ethical travel option. The more we travel using our personal vehicles, the bigger our carbon footprint becomes. While it is true that buses leave a large footprint on the earth when you consider the number of people that take the bus instead of drive, the buses get greater fuel economy per person as well as emit less pollution and greenhouse gases than the number of vehicles it would take if each person drove themselves to their destination, taking the bus is indeed an ethical travel method. Heavy rail transit, typically known as a metro or subway, runs on electricity so no fossil fuels are needed. Although it is the most expensive form of public transportation to build and maintain it has the greatest capacity and best efficiency making it the better choice for environmentally friendly transportation.

How do I find an ecotourism vacation?

Choose an environmentally friendly vacation location.

There are a great number of ways to choose an environmentally friendly location for a vacation or even as a permanent home. There are many ecotourism destination spots where horse drawn vehicles are the way of life. This is a very environmentally friendly way to experience ecofriendly travel adventures. Other great ideas for travel adventures include taking a sailing vacation using a sail boat instead of a fuel powered watercraft. Hiking is a great way to take a green vacation. There are numerous hiking destinations where everyone gathers in one spot and then are taken as a group to the destination where the hike or other activity will begin. Other than the vehicle there are no other motorized vehicles in the area. Camping is one of the best environmentally friendly options for a green vacation because it saves on carbon emissions plus it gives everyone the chance to observe nature and wildlife. Day trips are a great idea especially if you can walk or ride a bicycle to the destination. Even if you have to use conventional transportation for some leg of the trip that does not mean you can't take your bike along or walk part way. Other great ideas for a day trip include helping a local organization plant trees or visiting a local recycling facility, both are great ways to show the impact of ecotourism. If you do leave town look for a green hotel to stay in. Instead of driving the family car remember that mass transportation is a more ethical travel option. Depending on where you live and where you are going there might even be a green transportation alternative. Many travel agencies are also offering complete vacation destinations with ethical travel options and a conservation focused theme.

How do I find a hotel that is truely environmentally friendly?

Choose a hotel that is environmentally friendly.

Environmentally conscious consumers can make a difference when they travel by choosing a hotel that is environmentally friendly. There are a growing number of green hotels to choose from today and offer all the services that a regular hotel would normally offer, but do so in a more environmentally friendly way. One way that some hotels are becoming environmentally friendly is by using renewable energy resources such as biomass, solar or wind power and excluding fossil fuels as a power source included in their choice of hotel transportation for guests. Many green hotels offer free transportation to various destinations in and around town using vehicles that run on alternative fuels. Some hotels offer bulk amenities such as soap instead of individual packages which cuts down on the hotels landfill contributions. For those who prefer not to use bulk amenities there is always the option of bringing your own. For items such as paper plates that are disposable there is a biodegradable option that is more environmentally friendly than the typical plates. The use of organic towels and linens is another aspect of an environmentally friendly hotel because organic products don't use petrochemicals. Many hotels have restaurants in them, in green hotels you will find restaurants that serve eco-friendly food such as organically grown food, or food that is locally harvested. By choosing a hotel that is environmentally friendly when you go on vacation you can help the environment and send a message to others that green is the way to go, at home or on vacation.

What makes a bicycle environmentally friendly?

Green the environment, ride a bike.

An easy way to make your daily commute greener is to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car or taking public transportation. Like walking, riding a bicycle will help improve your health and make the community you live in a better place. Bicycles do not produce pollution and don't consume fossil fuel. Bicycle manufacturers are getting in on the green movement as well by making bicycles out of renewable materials such as bamboo. If you don't want to invest in a new bicycle there are second hand bicycles on the market and choosing one of these could keep it from going into the landfill. In the event you later decided to purchase a new bicycle, recycle the old one. Older bicycle frames are generally made of metal so they can be easily recycled. If you decide to go with an older bicycle, look around for the best price on one and make sure it is in good shape. Some bicycles can be beyond being repaired.

If you are worried about what to do with your bicycle once you get to your destination, there are folding varieties on the market. You may be concerned that you cannot get where you need to go by bicycle alone, but luckily that problem can be solved too. Many forms of public transportation now have bike racks on their vehicles for the convenience of their customers who wish to ride a bicycle on part of their destination. Many cities also have bike paths allowing bicyclists a safe place to ride.

How do I choose an environmentally friendly camping mattress?

Choose an environmentally friendly camping mattress.

Camping is a great way to travel in an eco-friendly fashion, so it just makes sense to choose camping gear that is environmentally friendly. Many companies are making environmentally friendly camping mattresses to meet the growing consumer demands for green products. When choosing an environmentally friendly camping mattress look for one made out of natural material such as bamboo. Before buying your new mattress find out if the company plants new trees in place of the ones they use to make the mattresses, or uses other environmentally friendly practices such as wind or solar power to help offset their CO2 emissions. Many of the green camping mattresses on the market today are considered to be carbon neutral because of the how the manufacturer helps offset their CO2 emissions by using renewable resources. It is important to look at the processing of the mattress as well. Environmentally friendly mattresses should be minimally processed and chemical free. Most sustainable mattresses will be free of dyes. If you find one that is dyed look to see if it was dyed using natural plant materials such as leaves, flowers, nuts or berries. When other non-renewable material such as metal is used on the mattress or the bag, find out if it is recycled. Don't stop at just the mattress; look at the packaging and the sack that holds the mattress as well. The cords and packaging materials should be made of renewable materials as well if you want the most environmental friendly product possible.

Why is it better to walk instead of drive?

Create a better environment by walking instead of driving.

Wether you are at home or on an ecotourism vacation, one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get from one place to another is to walk. Choosing to walk instead of drive on short trips helps local communities as well as your personal budget. Vehicles can be expensive to operate in addition to not being very environmentally friendly. Another advantage of walking, especially when on an ecotourism vacation, is that you will see sights that you might miss in a vehicle. When you walk in your own neighborhood you have more of a chance to interact with your neighbors and other people who may be out walking. Choosing to purchase goods and services within walking distance helps boost the local economy and the sight of more people walking helps create a sense of safety. Areas that are known to be full of pedestrians typically do not have the rush of traffic that non-pedestrian roads might have. This is another plus for the community because areas where people can be seen out walking help to attract new business which in turn will create more jobs. Walking also reduces the need for road maintenance costs and parking lots. As the need for parking areas decreases, the lots can be used for something more sustainable such as a neighborhood garden or park. It has been found that people who walk are generally in better physical and mental health, which reduces the stress on health care services. Choosing to walk instead of drive when possible creates advantages for everyone and is a great way to help your neighborhood become environmentally friendly.

Why volunteer during an ecotourism vacation?

Try a voluntary tourism vacation.

A great way to spend your vacation time while doing something that is good for the environment is to take a volunteer vacation. While working through your vacation certainly isn't as much fun as relaxing at the beach it is more meaningful to know that you spent your time doing something that will leave a positive impact on the environment and ecotourism. Opportunities of all kinds exist from teaching to assisting with conservation or peace building efforts. For the more adventurous traveler there are rainforest ecotourism volunteer vacations where you can help track the habit of rare or endangered animals. There are even volunteer vacations that deal directly with environmental issues where you can assist scientists in the study of global warming or conservation field research. The first step in deciding what kind of volunteer vacation to take is to determine what interests you, as well as what kind of physical shape you are in. Many of these volunteer vacations require walking or other strenuous physical activity although some opportunities do exist for senior citizens and children. When taking a volunteer vacation you should know that the accommodations may not mean staying in a five star hotel and that the money still comes out of your pocket. Knowing that you have done something that was environmentally friendly and sustainable with your own two hands will leave you with unforgettable memories of helping to bring hope and a sense of place back to the community you chose to vacation in.

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PJ Campbell