Southeast Asia is ripped by a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 11 countries. Six months later, the Big Easy is flooded by a storm surge that left 80% of the city underwater. Two months later a 7.6 magnitude earthquake attacks Pakistan, killing 80,000 people in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Nearly every reputable scientific study in the world proves that global warming is an international threat and Larry West, About.Com’s Guide to Environmental Issues says that climate change is to blame for at least 150,000 deaths a year.
Read that again.
150,000 deaths a year.
Mind boggling, isn’t it? And sadly, many world travelers just don’t see these stats.
With that in mind, here are seven ways you can help our environment when you travel.
1. Offset the Carbon Footprint of Your Flight
Frequent travelers are familiar with the concept of offsetting carbon emissions from their flight by making a donation when their buy their ticket. Travelers departing from San Francisco International Airport can now purchase carbon offsets at kiosks before they board and all passengers can calculate their flight’s carbon footprint by entering flight details at ClimateCare.com.
It really is a small price to pay …
2. Reuse Towels and Sheets
Many travelers think because they are at a hotel or bed and breakfast, they can splurge on fresh towels and daily-changed bed linens. You are paying for it. Why not use it? Right?
However, by reusing your towel for at least two days and asking the B&B not to change your sheets, you are helping reduce electricity and water usage by 50%.
3. Conserve Water
Instead of leaving the water running while you are brushing your teeth, turn it on to lather, turn it off while you brush, then turn it back on to rinse. Dentists recommend you brush for at least two minutes-so that is a lot of wasted water … you know, if you are doing it the dentists’ way.
4. Turn off Lights, ACs, Heaters and Fans
Even at home people leave on their lights or forget to turn off the TV when they leave. Imagine how much you could help the environment if you turned off the lights, your AC or heater, your fan and TV when you leave your hotel for the day.
Chances are you will be sightseeing anyway, do you really need to leave your fan on while you are away?
Many people don’t realize electrical items consume electricity even when they are off. Crazy, huh? Be sure to unplug your cell phone or laptop charger, hair dryer and straightening iron when you leave your hotel each morning.
6. Walk When Possible
Ask your hotel or B&B how easy it is to access certain museums and attractions. If possible, walk or take a bike instead of driving. You will see more of the city and help reduce your carbon footprint in the process.
7. Swap or Donate Books or Clothes
You know that book you read on your first flight? Instead of tossing it before you return, why not donate it to your hotel’s library or swap it with a fellow traveler? I’ve also seen travelers toss clothes to make room in their bags. Instead of throwing them in the trash, ask about clothing donation centers and send them there.
What other tips do you have for fighting climate change when you travel?