People tell me often that they find it amazing that I make so little landfill on a day-to-day basis.
But what gets people the most gob smacked is the amount-or lack of-that I make while traveling.
How is it possible to be green while traveling, when everything is different, your'e in a different environment you don;t know where the bulk foods are, your eating in restaurants .
Well, it is possible...though it takes a little planning:
1. Have the right tools
Being on vacation isn't the time to abandon your reusable cups, straws, forks, containers. If anything, travel is when you MOST need these thin. I never leave home without my Stojo collapsible coffee cup, my silicone collapsible water bottle, my silicone collapsible take-out containers
My spork is in my purse along with my metal straw. I carry several bandannas- some to wear, some to mark luggage, and one to use as a napkin
2. Plan ahead
In the old days, pre-smart phone and internet, you had to rely on the mercy of the luck, or use big, bulky travel guidebooks Now there an app for everything... and a little pre-trip homework to find out where the natural food stores are, or where the vegan restaurants are go a long way.
3. Air BnB vs Hotels
Hotels certainly have their place, and I so stay in them, especially if and when landing n a new country where I have never been and am jet-lagged as hell. That's when I want the help at the front desk, and not to have to think about where what is.
Buy beyond that, I am a total AirBnB fan and look for rentals that have at least a hot plate and or microwave. This way I can "shop like the locals", cook at "home". Many places I stay also have recycling- it is certainly easier to control your trash when you have municipal help.
4. Research the local Recycling Rules Before You Go
Before going to France and the Netherlands 2017 and to Australia this year, I looked up what could be recycled where. I ask the locals for suggestions. Even in Amsterdam, where we were staying in a hotel that had no on-site recycling, there were recycling bins across the street. I took our stuff there.
5. Be a Scout, Pack it out.
The most important thing is to be willing to practice what experienced river rafters on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon have had to so for years: pack it out.
I carry a plastic bag in my purse and a larger one on my suitcase and anything that I cannot recycle locally but that I know I can recycle in Seattle (or perhaps the next town down the road, such as was the case in France between my hotel and my friend Odile's house where they not only recycle, but compost)
6. Remember to ask for NO STRAW, NO STRAW and NO STRAW AGAIN!
7. Sit in! Sip a while!
Take the extra ten minutes to drink your coffee in a "here" cup. This is easier in Europe as it has less of a take-out culture in the USA, but even there (and here in Australia) the "to-go" cups are becoming ubiquitous,
8. BUY CARBON OFF-SETS
I know these are controversial, how much does paying a little money for a company that claims that it will plant trees, etc, really help? Where does the money go? And how is it really helping when we really shouldn't fly at all, due to the carbon intensity of jet-travel?
I know it isn't perfect, but I believe every bit helps. At minimum, it is letting airlines (you can often by carbon offsets via the airline when you purchase your ticket) and/or third party carbon offset programs know that you are aware that flying is environmental damage and thus create demand for a solution. I buy an offset thorough the airline, and through Terra Pass in order to create this "demand".
9. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR FLYING
I am not going to say "never fly".
While flying is a privilege for many, not flying (due to time constraints of daily life) is also a privilege.
In a huge country like the USA, that lacks comprehensive high-speed train travel, very few people have the time of time to drive from Seattle to Boston, etc. But you *might* have the time to be able to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and eschew the flight. Or New York to D.C.
Instead, be mindful of how much you fly and get creative in planning. Make a "carbon budget". Set an amount of air miles you're "allowed" annually and try and work around that. That is what I try to do. In planning for the Australia trip, I have sacrificed other plane trips for this year and next year.
If you fly for work, ask about video conferencing. Push the money-saving aspects of video conferencing over flight. You might get some positive response.
In conclusion, the above "to do"s are all far from perfect. I know that. But they are better than nothing.
Keep trying to do you best, folks! I know I am trying to do mine!