Posts Tagged 'ecological footprint'

How to Stay Green on Your Summer Trip

It’s no secret that traveling is one of the best parts of summer, be it a trek over 2,700 miles away to NYC or just 2 miles to Mission Beach, it’s not a stretch to say that getting off the couch and soaking up some sun is on everyone’s to-do list. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray which is completely understandable. When thinking of sustainable travel, the first image that pops into many minds is one of a lone backpacker cooking a questionable meal on a solar powered burner outside of a ten-man tent. Lucky for us, the reality of green traveling is as easy as making small choices that lessen the impact we have on our destinations and the environments we cross to get there. Here are a few tips to consider to go green on your next summer trip.

Before Leaving

Any change starts at home and if you’re going on vacation for a few days anytime soon, be sure to minimize your home footprint as much as possible while you’ll be away. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

Adjust Your Thermostat

You’re going to be gone for a few days and if there are no pets or people, there is no reason to have the AC on full blast nor should the heat be on. Given we are in the midst of summer your thermostat should be set around 85º F (you could even turn it off if you want) so long as it doesn’t interfere with any temperature sensitive appliances like your refrigerator.

Unplug Electronics

We are constantly using electricity even when we don’t realize it. Any time an electronic device or appliance is plugged in, even if it’s not in use, it is still leeching electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, 65% to be exact according to the US Energy and Information Administration. So before you go, don’t forget to unplug any gaming system, TV, laptop, toaster, or microwave that would otherwise be leeching power while you’re away.

What to Bring

Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most important phases of the pre-trip process. What you bring impacts your choices once you’re there, so why not set yourself up for sustainable success by keeping the following in mind during your packing.

Pack Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags

Simply roll one or two bags up and tuck them into your suitcase or backpack to cut down on the packaging you would otherwise throw away when shopping in a different city. This is also a helpful day bag option if you don’t want to haul all of your luggage around town!

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

One water bottle takes on average at least 450 years to degrade, and it takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water inside the bottle. Consider skipping the plastic bottle all together and invest in a durable bottle.

Bring Less, Pack Light

There are a plethora of benefits that come along with packing light, ranging from saving on baggage fees when flying to knowing what you have is what’s by your side. The biggest benefit, however, comes from the shrinking of your carbon footprint when you fly, the less you bring the less weight the airplane carries which lessens the planes fuel use and carbon emissions.

Choose Your Method of Travel Wisely

Let’s get this out the way now: walking is the most sustainable mode of transport we will ever have. Unfortunately, it often duals as one of the most impractical. When it comes to making sustainable travel decisions, the distance you’re traveling is the most important factor.

Local Trips

When heading out to the beach to meet up with friends consider taking the public transportation rather than your car. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also help improve local air quality which is often much worse in urban areas where traffic tends to suffer from congestion.

Another option (for those close enough) is to get the gang together and then bike to your destination.

Further Destinations

According to the UCSUSA, when traveling between 100 and 500 miles motor coaches and trains are the most effective form of travel leaving the smallest carbon footprints. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself of a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $145-170, the average domestic flight ticket landing at $379, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

Now when traveling overseas or cross-country, the practicality of green travel gets a little fuzzy. As much as we’d like to be green, it’s just not really feasible. In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination and always fly coach. Though it may be cramped at times, the more people that can be seated on a plane helps lessen each individuals’ impact on the environment. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as your taking less total flights.

Once You’ve Arrived

Stay at a Green Hotel or with Family and Friends

If you’re not leaving the United States, check if the hotel you’re planning on staying at is LEED certified by the US Green Business Council, they judge on sustainability, efficiency, and quality of the way buildings are constructed, maintained and operated. If you are going overseas be sure to find out what that countries green hotel certification program is and what hotels are certified.

If you have any family or friends where you’re going, ask them if you can crash at their place for a few nights.

Keep Your Shopping Habits Local

When staying in a place far from home, we tend to cling to things we are familiar with, be it a certain kind of soap or a certain kind of food. Many of these things must be flown or shipped from overseas, which only contributes to greenhouse emissions. Every time you buy local you not only support the local economy but you also get a unique taste of the local culture and cuisine.

Rethink Souvenirs

For many of us, one of the best parts of traveling is the cool stuff we buy while out globetrotting. While the stuff we buy is cool to look at much of it ends up on a shelf collecting dust. When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need that little knick-knack or if a picture of it would suffice. If you still want to shop around, just follow the advice from above and stay local because who wants something made from assembly line a thousand miles away anyhow?

Getting Around

Though it may be easier to call up an Uber or taxi service to drive you around, the average vehicle still releases about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA. As an alternative try renting a bike from either a bike shop or at an automated bike rental stand. Another option would be to take public transportation which reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per person or just walk, eliminating these emissions completely.

Remember that even if you just put to action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe (green) travels!

Today’s blog was written by guest contributor, Jessica Lewis. Jessica is your every day, So-Cal based writer with an interest in the environment. 

8 Ways to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

Today’s blog was written by Marketing Manager, Pia.

Ecological footprint: the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources

It’s been estimated that it would take 3.9 Earths to sustain the world population if everyone lived like we do in the US. When considering factors like food, water-use, waste and transportation, it’s clear there’s an urgent need for more sustainable daily actions. Luckily, you can start creating these habits today!

Check out the Global Footprint Calculator from the Global Footprint Network to understand your ecological footprint. Then, incorporate these suggestions to reduce your ecological footprint and make a positive impact!

  1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use, Disposable Plastics. Did you know all the plastic we’ve ever made still exists? We use disposable plastic shopping bags for an average of 12 minutes before we discard them (and yes, there are still plastic shopping bags at clothing stores, hardware stores, and more). Other single-use plastics like straws, cups, and utensils aren’t used for much longer. Make the switch to reusable items, such as reusable water bottle, reusable shopping bag, and reusable cups.
  2. Switch to Renewable Energy. According to the EPA, the electricity sector was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2014. If you have the budget and living situation to switch to solar, look into installation options. If you don’t, there are still many ways to reduce your use of nonrenewable energy. Look into renewable energy options through programs like SDG&E’s EcoChoice. The program allows you to switch 50-100% of your energy bill to renewable energy from clean sources. Best of all: it’s easy and affordable! Log in to your account for an estimate and reduce your ecological footprint in a click. renewable energy idea san diego
  3. Eat Less Meat. The meat industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, along with its other issues such as animal welfare, water-use, and land degradation. Reduce your ecological footprint by enjoying vegetarian-friendly meal days and supporting local meat sources.
  4. Recycle Responsibly. Recycling helps conserve resources and reduces air and water pollution. It also saves space in our overcrowded landfills. Become a recycling rockstar by knowing the rules for your area and recycling as much as you can. For recycling locations along with repair, reuse and repurpose ideas, visit our recycling and zero waste database, WasteFreeSD.org.
  5. Reduce your Waste. Our landfills are quickly filling up. Do your part by reducing your waste. Reduce packaging waste in the kitchen by buying in bulk, eating a veggie-based diet, and composting. Reduce your bathroom product waste by concocting your own formulas, buying reusables, and forgoing unnecessary products. Be sure to recycle plastic bottles, toilet paper rolls, and other recyclable bathroom materials. Learn more about zero waste here.
  6. Drive Less. Our cars release many pollutants into the air and our oceans. When you’re able to travel without a car, take advantage! San Diegans can enjoy year-round walking and biking trips to the store, coffee shop, or farmer’s market. When you have to drive, consider grouping errands together or taking public transit. If you rely on your car, make the switch to an electric vehicle. Not only are they better for the environment, but you won’t have to buy gas ever again. bike to reduce ecological footprint
  7. Reduce Your Water Use. Water is precious. We only have to look at the last few years in California to understand why. More water is used in our yards than any other category for the average household. Transform your yard into a water-wise oasis to conserve water. Find ways to incorporate water savings techniques around your home, such as using rain barrels, washing clothes when you have a full load, and stopping unnecessary faucet use. More tips from Be Water Wise.
  8. Support Local. Our stuff travels more than we do. Whether it’s clothes, food or supplies, many items have a huge ecological footprint. Support local, transparent companies and farms to reduce your footprint. A great place to start? Shop your local farmer’s market. san diego farmers market

Have more tips to reduce your ecological footprint? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


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