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10 Ways to Become a Green Traveller

Accent Inns focus on greenWe’re all becoming increasingly aware of our environmental responsibilities. The amount of litter we see on the sidewalks has diminished greatly, we recycle at home and now, at least in my town, we separate our food waste so that it can be sustainably processed. But what about when we travel? Do we continue to be as careful or dedicated?

Here are 10 things I do when travelling to lessen my impact on the environment.

  1. Before I leave on a trip I always cancel our newspapers. Check whether your newspaper publisher will donate your papers to a charitable cause – mine does and it feels good that they are not just going straight to the landfill.
  2. If you’re going away for more than a couple of days consider unplugging all electrical items in your house. The other day I counted over 30 little lights that remain on constantly when appliance, cable boxes and phones are plugged in. As I write this, my main Shaw box has five lights burning, and I know my Wi-Fi modem has at least another five!
  3. Most hotels make an effort to be green these days, but some are greener than others so check if it’s important to you. One of the reasons I choose Accent Inns whenever I can is that they support local environmental and community organizations – giving back is green!
  4. Use a refillable plastic bottle – mine’s a CamelBak Eddy which I’ve had for about 3-years. It has a soft mouthpiece, which allows you to suck up the water. This means that even when driving I can take a drink without having to unscrew the top. The mouthpiece folds down when not in use so it doesn’t spill when in my bag.
  5. reusable-coffee-cup-mug-722414Refillable coffee mugs are another blessing. I love coffee and can’t pass a nice looking coffee shop without grabbing some Java to go. I shudder to think how many disposable cups I might go through in a year if I didn’t use a reusable coffee cup.
  6. My wife and I love road trips and always take a couple of plastic bags so that we can separate paper from any plastic, or cans. Once we stop we find recycle bins and empty everything out. It’s a simple thing but so much better than just dumping stuff in the nearest garbage bin, and takes about the same amount of effort.
  7. At the hotel we always reuse our towels rather than expect them to be cleaned everyday – let’s face it, at home you use a towel more than once don’t you? Why should it be any different when traveling?
  8. One simple thing I always do when leaving my room, either temporarily or when checking out is to turn all the lights out and the thermostats down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a hotel room for the first time and thought I was entering a sauna – what a waste of energy. Another thing you can do if your room gets too hot is close the drapes before you leave, so you won’t need the air conditioner on when you return. Conversely if your room is a little chilly and it’s a sunny day, open the drapes so that the sun will warm the room. A simple act, but one that will have a significant impact on the amount of energy used. Imagine if everyone in every hotel room in the world was to do this?
  9. Once at our destination, my wife and I try to walk as much as possible, or take public transit. One of our favourite things to do is check whether our hotel has bikes to rent, or borrow, or can tell us where we can get them. There’s nothing like biking around a place to get a real feel for it!
  10. HotelzedbikesOne of the things I’m guilty of is collecting dozens of brochures, maps, guidebooks and rack cards when travelling. Of course I try my best to recycle them, but is that enough? Lately I’ve been putting any that are not damaged, or written on back in the racks where I found them, so they can be used again. Once again, a small thing but it’s all about doing ones bit to save the world.

When guests and hotel management come together to work toward environmental sustainability great things can happen. If I had to choose one single point above as the most important it would be reusing towels. I read somewhere that if you combined the water used doing laundry by all the hotels in the U.S. over the period of a year it would be enough to fill 44,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Bringing that down to an individual level, did you know that a hotel uses 94.6 litres of water for every occupied room every single day on laundry alone? That’s something we can personally do something about – reuse our towels and save nearly 25 gallons of water – that sounds like a good trade off to me!

Accent Inns do their best to minimize their impact on the environment; perhaps we should give them a helping hand.

Mike Wicks
Douglas, YAM and Salt Magazines