Taking a Trip? Here's Some Great Tips to Traveling Greenps
A new form of travel is emerging – one that combines exciting adventures in unfamiliar locations with a keen care for the environment and the people of the destinations one is visiting.
Green travel is one of the hottest trends of recent years. It means maximizing local resources and thinking green in every aspect of their travel experiences.
The good news is you don't have to go far to enjoy green travel – you can be a "green traveler" whenever you visit one of America's great state parks!
» Step 1
Green Traveler – It's easy to become one
A visit to a state park can be an excellent opportunity for practicing green travel. Check with the state park you plan to visit, for some sponsor expeditions that involve bird watching, wildlife identification and other activities that help you better understand the local flora and fauna. Or, look for a volunteer program that allows you to help restore a fragile environment.
Here are some of the ways you can become a savvy green traveler — both while enjoying a state park and while traveling to and from one:
» Step 2
1. Sip energy, don't guzzle it. If driving your own vehicle to a park, use the one that gets the best gas mileage. If renting a car to drive to a state park (or from an airport to a state park), rent the smallest version comfortable (or a hybrid) and decline upgrades to more gas-guzzling vehicles. Where possible, take mass transit, bike, or walk rather than use a motorized vehicle.
Don't sit idling in your car or RV – ever. Drive a steady speed — avoid sudden accelerations that eat up gasoline. When you leave a hotel room, turn off all lights, the television and the air conditioning. Do the same before you leave home, and you'll save even more energy over the course of your trip.
Thought about "carpooling" to the state park? Plan a trip with neighbors you enjoy, or find someone to share the drive with at such drive-sharing sites as www.rideamigos.com
2. Respect the local habitat. Don't tramp through or rearrange the environment – enter it quietly, enjoy it respectfully and leave it as pristine as possible for the next visitor. Don't tear off pine boughs to create a mattress, and don't collect wood to use in your campfire or fireplace back home, this is illegal and harms the natural environment.
Do not transport or release any plants or animals (bait or aquatic pets) into lakes or streams they did not come from. Leave a campsite tidy for the next camper.
3. Be a minimal user and a reuser. Conserve water by keeping showers short and turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth and shave. Reuse sheets and towels rather than have them washed every day. Use your own toiletries and drinking cup rather than those supplied by the hotel or inn. Bring a reusable bottle to drink from rather than purchase multiple plastic bottles, which require a lot of energy to manufacture, collect and recycle.
4. Be environmentally friendly. Wash dishes in a cooking pot on land – never in a lake or stream, since food scraps encourage bacterial growth and even biodegradable detergents can kill essential microorganisms. Go one step further and use an environmentally safe cleaning product.
If you are going to be away from home for more than two days, unplug your appliances at home. Appliances continue to draw energy even when they are in the "off" mode, when they are plugged in. You can make this easier by plugging multiple appliances into a power strip, and then turning the power strip off when you leave.
5. Seek out locally owned businesses. When possible, you want to support the local economy and reward directly the people you connect with on your trip. That applies to shops, restaurants, markets and lodging. Especially strive to find restaurants that serve produce and meats from local farms, and shops that sell artworks by local artists.
Also, show respect for locals and expand your culinary horizons by trying regional dishes you're not familiar with. Ever eaten Masitas de Puerco (pork chunks in lemon sauce)? Hush puppies (deep-fried cornmeal with onions)? Cincinnati-style Chili (cheddar-cheese-topped chili served over spaghetti? They're almost considered delicacies in parts of Florida, Texas and Ohio, respectively. Try local dishes you've never heard of, and you may come back with a favorite new recipe for home. Most important – avoid fast food and the environmentally harmful packaging it comes in.
6. A few other ideas... worst choice is a charcoal grill, better choice is a gas grill, best choice is a solar cooker ... rub lemon juice on your hands to neutralize the smell of fish and pour it around areas where ants seem to congregate ... fill your gas tank in the early morning or afternoon to significantly reduce evaporation during the filling process ... use a solar charger for those gadgets needing a boost of energy while you are in the wilds ... consult in advance the USxDA's state noxious weed list to identify potentially invasive plants in a park you are visiting so you won't accidentally pick them and transport them into an environment they can harm.