Greening Your Beach Vacation

Even environmentalists need a vacation. After months of a cold Canadian winter, it’s hard to resist the call of the ocean; the bliss of yoga on the beach and the calm of the waves repeatedly crashing against the shore. When you travel, there are many opportunities to make choices that reflect your environmental values. Here are some ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your beach vacation:

What to Pack:

  1. Bring your shampoo, conditioner and soap from home. This reduces the amount of plastic bottles wasted at the hotel. If you’re not checking your luggage, reuse small travel bottles for your lotions, creams and liquids.
  2. Pack biodegradable sunscreen
  3. Bring your own water bottle
  4. Bring your own travel mug for coffee or tea on the go
  5. Pack light! Less clothes, less laundry, less lugging around πŸ˜‰

Travel

  1. Take transit to and from the airport (this is more comfortable, if you’ve packed light). I took the UP Express Train from the Bloor GO station (Dundas West TTC Station) to Pearson airport. It costs $5.65 to go from Bloor to Pearson in 17 minutes and $12.00 from Union Station to Pearson in 25 minutes. There is also Wi-Fi on the train. Instead of spending $60 or more on a cab, you can use the money you saved by taking transit to buy carbon credits for your flight.
  2. Buy carbon credits to offset your flight. For a round trip flight to the Bahamas, carbon credits cost about $25-$30.

At the hotel (or Ashram, in my case):

  1. Do not get your room serviced and sheets replaced every day.
  2. Ask questions about the hotel’s environmental policies. Do their restaurants serve locally-sourced food? Does the hotel recycle, compost or refill their soap bottles? These questions signal to the hotel staff that environmental sustainability is a priority for their guests.

A vacation doesn’t have to mean a vacation from your environmental values. In fact, buying locally made goods and eating locally-sourced food is part of learning about the culture and contributing to the economy of the places you visit. Do you really want to eat McDonald’s in Hawaii? Of course not!

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My biggest piece of advice when on vacation is to find beauty in the nature around you! Slow down and appreciate the trepidation of the lizards, the vastness of the ocean and the uniqueness of the plants and flowers.

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