Thinking Green When Traveling

While recently attending a conference in Denver, CO, many green travel tips occurred to me and I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of green things already in place.  Many of my thoughts below cluster around the idea  of “Use only what you need” which is what I found posted on stickers in the Colorado Convention Center bathrooms.  

Green Traveling Thoughts

  • Drink local beer & wine
  • Say “No, thank you” to vendor giveaways you do not need
  • Turn down hotel thermostats
  • Don’t fill the ice bucket full
  • Composting next to trash

Drink Local Beer & Wine

Have fun with this and try out what is locally produced.  Eating and drinking locally saves on food miles and energy spent to transport the food. While in Denver, I had some local brews on tap, as well as Blue Moon and Fat Tire Ale which are both made in Colorado. As an aside, on tap is more environmentally friendly than bottles because you don’t have the weight of the bottles to transport or the bottles to make. Kegs are almost always reused repeatedly.

Say No Thank You to Useless Vendor Giveaways.

Vendors often have small trinkets with their company logo to give away.  As I walk down the aisles of the exhibit hall, I feel compelled to take those free pens, t-shirts, buttons, stress balls, brochures, etc., but I thought about it and limited myself to only taking those things that I would actually use or that my kids would love to have.  My favorite vendor giveaway wasn’t actually something I could take with me: a 5 minute chair massage.  After carrying my backpack all day, that really hit the spot.  Some other good tschotskes that I like are:

  • small recycled paper notepads
  • t-shirts that I’ll actually wear
  • reusable tote bags
  • LED flashlights
  • pocket sized hand sanitizer (great during flu season)

I asked a number of vendors to follow up with me and send me their brochures electronically to save the paper and to avoid carrying a bunch of paper that I’ll likely end up loosing anyhow, back on the plane with me.

Turn Down Hotel Room Thermostat

When I walked into my hotel room, the heat was on and the room was comfortably warm, the thermostat was set to 70 F.  I turned it down to 66 F, which is what we heat to at home.  After the first night I turned it down to 64 because I was still too warm.  With all the rooms around me and the mild weather, I don’t think the heat turned on in my room again, which was fine by me.  I was glad not to waste the energy, especially when I wasn’t in the room most of the day while I was at the conference.

Don’t Fill the Ice Bucket in the Hotel

Up until this trip, when filling the ice bucket at hotels, I have always filled the bucket to the top.  Inevitably, I would use a little of the ice and then in the morning would pour the melted ice (aka water) down the sink.  Then it hit me: I only needed a little ice to make numerous glasses of ice water.  The energy and water savings between a partial bucket and full bucket of  ice is small, but it adds up when you think of how many people stay in hotels every night.

Composting Next to Trash Cans

At the Colorado Convention Center they had cans for compost right next to the recycling and trash.  This was the first time I’d seen commercial compost collection at a non-eco focused event.  It makes a lot of sense for the Convention Center to do this because they are able to reduce the amount of trash they pay to send to landfills and have the volume of compostable waste (food scraps and dirty paper goods like napkins and plates) to make it worthwhile.  Putting the bins all together enables people to easily dispose of their waste in the most environmentally friendly ways.

As you plan your travels for the holidays, consider how you can make your trips to see friends and family a little greener.  You’ll be surprised how good it feels to do several little things along the way.

What are your ideas for greening your travels this year?

Happy Greening and Happy Holidays!
Jon



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