How to be kind to the environment while traveling
Saving resources can be a lifestyle at home and abroad. And for those who are just getting started, here are environmentally friendly things to think about when you travel. In collaboration with staffers from World Wildlife Fund, members and editors of global travel website VirtualTourist.com have put together tips on how to travel with conservation in mind.
• Plastic bottles are one of the biggest pollution problems in natural spaces I have visited. Bring your a water bottle when you travel.
• Don't encourage local people to keep wild animals as pets by paying to have your picture taken with them. This might provide incentive for them to hunt endangered species in order to obtain pets to display for tourists.
• Choosing a fuel-efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus 345, is one of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint on your next trip. Soon, the Boeing 787 aircraft will be the best option, since its fuel consumption will be 27 percent less than other similarly sized aircraft.
• Chemicals in detergents and sunscreens can damage coral reefs — the very habitat that WWF is working hard to protect. Use biodegradable soaps and reef-friendly sunscreen.
• Eat local. Find a farmer's market or street stall and eat what the locals eat. You'll get to know the culture, and, more than likely, the food will be locally grown and sourced. And you get to support local communities and their needs — in this case, paying the vendor directly instead of paying up a chain of command.
• When you encounter animals in the wild, blend into their world. Don't feed them, don't taunt them, and most importantly don't try to take them home with you. If you come across people selling wildlife or wildlife products, be aware that those “souvenirs” could very well be endangered species that have been poached from the wild and are being sold illegally.
• Don't use the trash can in your hotel room, which is usually lined with a plastic bag. Each time housekeeping comes in to clean, they will change out the bag. Instead, try and use the trash bins in the hotel lobby.
• Ask when you check in that your sheets and towels not be changed every day, but every three days instead (or longer if you can manage). Often, housekeeping will swap out your towels even if you follow the “towel on the floor means exchange” rule. This way, the receptionist will make a note of it. Don't worry, you'll still get service.
• Don't forget to turn off the lights and air conditioner/heater when you're not using it. Yes, it's nice to come back to a cool or heated room depending on where you are, but wasting energy not only costs the hotel more money (and if everyone's doing it, then rates will go up), it leads to more burning of coal and other fossil fuels that contribute to global climate change.
• If you need to rent a car for your whole trip or even part of it, choose the smallest vehicle possible or rent a hybrid. Larger cars are gas guzzlers, so you'll save on money and gas and help the environment.