The final school bell has rung, the sun is shining and temperatures are rising, which all add up to just one thing: summer vacation. This summer, keep the environment in mind when making summer travel plans. It is possible to have a memorable beach vacation without harming the planet. Jodi Helmer, author of The Green Year, offers the following tips for greening your summer vacation:
* Reserve a room at a Ã¢â‚¬Å“greenÃ¢â‚¬Â hotel: The Green Hotels Association (www.greenhotels.com) has a list of hotels in every state that have implemented programs to conserve resources and reduce waste. During check-in, request that sheets and towels be changed only if theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re left on the floor and leave a note for the housekeeping staff asking that the air conditioning be turned off when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not in the room.
* Planes, trains or automobiles? Make the right choice: Carpooling in a fuel-efficient vehicle has the least impact on the environment (ask car rental companies about hybrid vehicles). On longer trips, consider taking the train instead of flying. A transcontinental flight generates 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions; train travel creates between 4 and 15 percent of the CO2 emissions (depending on the length of the trip). Bonus: You can avoid long lines at the airport and get a glimpse of parts of the country you could never see from the air.
* Pack light: Excess weight in the trunk of the car (or in the cargo hold on the plane) will decrease your gas mileage. In the car, every 100 pounds of cargo decreases fuel efficiency by 2 percent. It might not sound like much but it adds up on a round-trip to the beach, so only pack the essentials.
* Slather on biodegradable sunscreen: Sunscreen is essential for summer vacation but the same ingredients that help protect against UV exposure might be harming marine life. Scientists have found a link between dying coral reefs and the estimated 6,000 tons of sunscreen that wash off of swimmers every year. Biodegradable sunscreens are made with ingredients that break down in seawater and wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t harm marine life.
The Green Year (December 2008, $14.95, ISBN: 9781592578290, Alpha Books), provides 365 simple and inexpensive eco-friendly ideas for each day of the year. Organized by date, the green living tips suggest small changes and environmentally friendly ideas that make a big green impact. The Green Year is more than a calendar.Ã‚Â It offers practical, affordable and engaging activities that help make going green a blessing rather than a burden.
About the Author
Jodi Helmer is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about eco-friendly topics. Her work has appeared in Plenty, Yoga Journal, Women’s Health, Natural Solutions, Backpacker, Woman’s Day, Family Circle and American Way. She is the co-author of The Complete IdiotÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Guide to Green Careers and a professional speaker who offers workshops on green issues. Helmer also maintains a website, www.green-year.com. She lives in Charlotte, NC.