TRAVELING GREEN

Backpackers couple walking hand in hand

Summer is approaching, and the beginning of summer usually heralds a season for traveling. The travel and tourism industry can have a major impact on the environment, though. According to the United Nations, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions generated directly from the tourism sector of the global economy account for five percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions throughout the world. A study conducted by independent research firm STUDYLOGIC found that only 40 percent of travelers practice energy conservation and only 20 percent of travelers practice water conservation.

Do you need to travel to remote, exotic or extreme locales to travel sustainably? No! Essentially, you can travel green anywhere you go by remaining mindful of resource stewardship and by choosing businesses, goods, services and transportation methods that maintain and preserve the ecological integrity of the environment and contribute to local community development.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL …

  • Plan travel more efficiently. Travel less often, and travel for longer periods at a time.
  • Research the environmental policies and practices of airlines and hotels prior to your trip. Choose airlines and hotels that operate sustainably, if possible. Also, consider a privately-owned hotel to support the local economy of your destination. Learn more at Trip Advisor.
  • Research the language and customs of the region to which you will be traveling so that you can communicate with and be respectful of the locals.
  • Request electronic versions of tickets, confirmations, receipts and boarding passes to reduce paper waste.
  • Pack lightly. Decreasing your load increases your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and, if you will be traveling by air, your baggage fees.
  • Choose reusable containers that can be refilled each time you travel for toiletries such as shampoo and soap. Avoid expensive, disposable toiletries that are discarded after one use to reduce waste.
  • Conserve energy in your home before you embark on your journey. Unplug appliances and electronics, and set your thermostat at a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter. Do not leave lights on. Instead, use lights with a timer for security purposes.
  • If you will be enjoying a road trip, ensure that your vehicle is in top form before your trip. Inflate your tires properly and perform any necessary maintenance to maximize fuel efficiency. Also, pack only what you need and remove any extraneous items from your vehicle. Unnecessary weight diminishes gas mileage.
  • Use refillable water bottles instead of disposable plastic water bottles. If you will be flying, though, ensure that your bottles are completely empty before you reach airport security.
  • Pack a supply of healthy foods to avoid the often unhealthy options along the way.

WHEN YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION …

  • If you will be staying at your destination for several nights, use the same towels and bedding throughout your stay to conserve water and energy.
  • Save water at your lodging facilities by shortening your shower and by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and shave. Save energy by turning off the lights, air conditioner, television and other electronics when you leave the room.
  • Reduce waste by recycling as much as possible and by returning brochures, maps and other printed publications after you use them.
  • Limit the use of rental cars. Travel the local region by mass transit. Or, walk or cycle around the area to reduce vehicle emissions and stay fit.
  • Travel like a native, not a tourist. Embrace and honor indigenous traditions, and spend some time with the residents to learn about and indulge in the culture and cuisine that are unique to the area. Avoid tourist traps, and explore the best-kept secrets and the roads less traveled. Instead of purchasing cheap souvenirs, visit locally-owned shops and choose goods that are crafted by local artisans. However, be vigilant to avoid the purchase of endangered plant or animal products.
  • If you will be visiting a natural area, take only photographs and leave only footprints. Do not disturb any native flora or fauna, and always dispose of trash in a proper container.

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Responsible Travel Report

Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel from National Geographic

Sustainable Travel International

EcoTourism Tips from Green Global Travel

How to Travel Sustainably

Over the River and Through the Woods: 7 Sustainable Travel Tips

30 Tips for Sustainable Travel

Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Sustainable Couch

The Ethical Traveler

Going Green at the Office

Staff Report, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

(Scroll to the end of the post for a printable poster!)

Many Americans spend much of their days in an office, and for the 144 million members of the work force, the office can be a “home away from home.” By incorporating sustainable practices into the operations of the office, one can save natural resources, conserve fiscal resources and turn a “home away from home” into a healthy, efficient environment.

Recycled Content Post-It

Here are some easy ways to “go green” at the office …

ENERGY CONSERVATION
– Use task lighting and natural lighting when possible.
– Use the power saver feature on electronics such as copiers and printers.
– Set office thermostats in accordance with Army regulations: 68 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the heating season and 78 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the cooling season.
– Power down computers and other electronics at the end of the duty day.
– Unplug electronics and appliances when the office is to be unoccupied for a long period of time, such as a deployment or holiday.

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION
– Arrange a carpool with colleagues.
– If possible, consider cycling or walking to the office.
– Consider the Fort Bragg Sustainable Shuttle when traveling on post.

WASTE REDUCTION
– Circulate office notices electronically.
– Distribute, review and store files electronically when possible.
– Request publications such as newsletters and magazines to be delivered electronically.
– Use both sides of the paper when printing and copying.
– Reuse office supplies as much as possible.
– Replace disposable items with reuseable items.
– Always recycle paper and other recyclables!

RESPONSIBLE PURCHASING
– Complete a thorough inventory of office supplies prior to ordering to avoid waste.
– Purchase paper and other products with a minumum of 30 percent recycled content.
– Purchase non-toxic and less-toxic versions of materials such as cleaners and inks.
– Purchase energy efficient and water efficient products.

INNOVATION
Consider innovative ways to be sustainable and resource-conscious at the office. Does your office present any unique opportunities to “go green?” Share your ideas on Facebook.

WANT TO POST THESE IDEAS IN YOUR OFFICE? SELECT THE IMAGE FOR A PRINTABLE POSTER!

Green Office Week Poster

Cold Weather? Check Your Tire Pressure …

Did you know that cold temperatures can affect the fuel efficiency of your vehicle?
A decrease in fuel efficiency coupled with an increase in gasoline prices can leave drivers out in the cold, both environmentally and fiscally.
Use simple steps to ensure optimal fuel efficiency and maintain a green ride.
• Check your tire pressure. Every time the ambient temperature drops ten degrees, the pressure in your tires drops one to two pounds per square inch, or PSI. Always maintain your tire pressure at the level recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. The recommended tire pressure is usually located on a label inside the driver’s door frame and NOT on the tire.
• Perform maintenance specifically recommended for winter driving. Ensure that your battery and tires are in peak condition and that your automotive fluids – especially antifreeze – are at proper levels. Always perform vehicle maintenance at locations designated for automobile care and always dispose of automotive fluids properly to prevent pollution.
• Combine your trips. Several short trips from a cold start can consume twice as much fuel as one long trip with a warm engine.
• Ensure that your gas cap is seated properly. Improperly seated gas caps allow nearly 200 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the United States.
• Use only the manufacturer-recommended grade of motor oil and octane level of gasoline in your vehicle.
• Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking are dangerous habits on icy roads. According to the United States Department of Energy, these activities decrease gas mileage by an average of 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.
• Drive your vehicle as soon as you ignite the engine and avoid idling. Idling wastes fuel and contributes to air pollution. Fort Bragg has a “no idle” policy – Master Policy 30, 6.d.4. Remember: an idle vehicle’s fuel efficiency is zero miles per gallon.
• Instead of relying on heat from your engine to remove frost and ice, use an ice removal tool.
• If possible, park in a garage. The engine on a sheltered vehicle reaches its optimal temperature and thus its optimal fuel economy more efficiently than the engine on a vehicle exposed to extreme environmental conditions.
• Clean your vehicle. Excess weight diminishes fuel efficiency.
• Remove cargo carriers, bicycle racks, brush guards and other accessories when they are not in use. Such items can create aerodynamic drag, which contributes to a decrease in fuel efficiency.
• When driving on the highway, use cruise control and overdrive gears where appropriate.
• Avoid products that claim to improve fuel efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency has tested gasoline conserving additives and devices, and they have discovered that these products offer no or few benefits to fuel economy.
For more information, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov.