green travel

Question of the Week: How are you traveling green for Thanksgiving?

To be with friends and family on holidays, we drive across town and fly across the country. But most forms of travel can affect the environment…  Share how you go “over the river and through the woods.”

How are you traveling green for Thanksgiving?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Traveling Green

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force.  Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

As the first droves of tourists arrive in the Washington, DC area, some of us are starting to make family vacation plans for the year. Many people are interested in “going local,” not only to cut travel costs but to reduce their carbon footprint as well. The Washington area offers many nearby vacationing opportunities where you can get away from it all while protecting the environment.

Increasingly, there are more vacation spots that are going green. Whether these sites emphasize nature trails and the great outdoors, you can select hotels and destinations that are truly green. In fact, there are numerous websites that rate environmentally friendly hotels in the US and worldwide.

Watersense label - meets EPA criteriaWhen we’re talking about green vacations, green practices goes beyond just using your towels and sheets for two or three days in a row or even turning off the lights and TV while you’re not in the room. These are good tips that apply whenever you’re traveling either for business or pleasure. Notwithstanding, a green hotel, for example, will use environmentally friendly practices such as water efficient fixtures and practices, energy efficient lighting and equipment, integrated pest management practices, to name a few.

Furthermore, you can explore other ways to reduce your carbon footprint while on vacation such as using public transportation or walking to the different sites whenever possible. So, as you start discussing your vacation plans with your family, take a moment or two to factor in some green options. Have a safe journey. Bon voyage!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Traveling on an Environmental Budget

About the author: Viccy Salazar joined EPA in 1995. She works in our Seattle office on waste reduction, resource conservation and stewardship issues.

It is summer. I want to take my family on vacation but given all the focus on climate change, I am very concerned about how my travel plans might impact the environment. So, I sit down with my family and ask them – what do you want to do on vacation and how can me make it “green”? Of course, the first question was – what is a green vacation? Here is the list we came up with:

  • It is fun and we can all be together
  • Minimizes traveling
    • Car is better than airplane
    • Biking or Walking is better than car
  • Can cook for ourselves using fresh ingredients
  • Doesn’t damage existing natural resources
  • Can stay in either a tent, a friends house or one room together
  • Measure our carbon emissions and offset them

My kids wanted to know if this ruled out Disneyland. Not completely but it did make it harder to go. We would have to make choices about how we would get there, where we would stay, what we would buy while we were there and how we could offset our emissions.

Other trips we considered were camping at a lake, a train trip across Canada, the beach and a staycation – staying home and touring our own city, Seattle. Eventually, we decided to do a combination of camping, the beach and a staycation. When the kids looked at both the environmental and financial costs of all of the choices, they realized that they were getting more vacation for their resources if they stayed closer to home and chose less high profile activities. We decided to use some of the resources on EPA’s website to figure out exactly how much impact our vacations did have – tracking mileage, evaluating hotel stays, and figuring out how much we can recycle.

When I look back on the conversation, I realize that I learned lessons too. 1) being green means making substantially different choices – not just figuring out how to do the same thing using less, 2) my kids care about the environment and see it directly affecting their future and 3) it can be done but it isn’t easy. We are off on our vacations and staycations next week. I’m looking forward to it. I hope you are all having both a fun and green summer too. I’d love to hear how you are making your vacation green.

The Sierra Club has a more detailed comparison of cars vs. planes.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.