Green Travel 101: The Latest Environmentally-Friendly Travel Trends

August 13, 2015 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: VLADIMIR RODAS/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit: VLADIMIR RODAS/AFP/Getty Images

For many years now, both hotel operators and travelers have increasingly become more environmentally aware and worked to preserve the world’s natural resources. There are many different green programs that have turned regular travel standards into more environmentally-friendly ones. Hotels are finding ways to reduce waste disposal, airlines are working to offset their carbon imprint and road trip travelers are finding ways to reduce their overall fuel consumption.

All of these, and many others, environmental projects are helping the travel industry become more environmentally friendly.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Laundry

More and more hotels are starting to implement green measures when it comes to how they launder guest towels and linens. By simply posting cards, brochures and door hangers in the bathrooms, hotels are asking guests to reuse their towels during their stay. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, this can reduce laundry loads by up to 17 percent, thus reducing the impact on water usage, sewers and energy costs. It is projected that a typical 300-room hotel can reduce the amount of water used by up to 51,840 gallons per year just by asking guests to reuse towels during their stay.

Many hotels are discovering that going green with their laundry is not only a cost saving measure, but a good business practice. Especially as most of the world is becoming more and more environmentally conscious.

Carbon Neutral Flying

Many airlines have started programs known as Carbon Neutral Flying. These programs focus on carbon offsetting, which involves the airlines investing in projects that will help prevent and reduce emissions being released into the environment. Thus, in the long run, counterbalancing the emissions used during each of their flights.

Following strict guidelines and rules, offsetting has become a part of addressing climate change and the issues surrounding global warming. Of course Carbon Neutral Flying does not reduce emissions during the flight, it is a long-term approach to fund projects to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and other programs working to prevent its release altogether.

Related: Will Airlines Lose Carbon Offset Cash?

Photo Credit: VLADIMIR RODAS/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit: VLADIMIR RODAS/AFP/Getty Images


Solar Powered

Many road trip enthusiasts take their RVs out of storage, or rent one, and plan a long road trip. RV units are known for having poor fuel efficiency and during a road trip fuel is also consumed to help power the generators and keep the air conditioning running. More and more RV owners and renters are using solar-powered wall or roof ventilation fans. This helps reduce how much the air has to work to keep the unit cool, thus reducing the amount of fuel being used when not driving on the open road.

Some RV owners are also using sun shades on all of the windows, not just the front windshield. This helps keep the interior of the unit cool by blocking the sun’s rays from entering the unit through exposed windows.

Water-Efficient Low-Flow Toilets And Shower Heads

In addition to saving water through reduced laundry programs, hotels are working hard to reduce the overall water usage throughout the entire building. As hotels remodel and renovate, they have been installing water-efficient low-flow toilets and shower heads. According to the Green Hotelier, taps, toilets and showers within all of a hotel’s guest rooms can contribute to 30 to 40 percent of the hotel’s water usage. By installing more water-efficient plumbing and fixtures, the hotel can greatly reduce the amount of water each of their guests consumes during their stay. By doing to, some hotels have reduced water usage by up to 50 percent.

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Recycling

Recycling has been a common practice at many hotels, and they are continually looking for ways to recycle unused and discarded materials. Many programs currently in use involve the recycling of bottles, paper, plastic and metal in the hopes of being reused and turned into new products. Even unused and partially used soaps are being recycled and sent to countries in need. All of these recycling efforts help eliminate trash being sent to a landfill, help preserve the environment and natural resources, are less expensive and reduce overall costs of hotel operations.

According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, several hotels have successfully reduced the amount of waste produced by participating in a few recycling and donation projects. Here are some of those projects:

  • Le Chateau Montbello: This Quebec hotel constructed a composting site that was used to fertilize and mulch the hotel’s herb garden.
  • Ritz-Carlton: This Pasadena hotel turns stained and worn linens into aprons and napkins.
  • Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers: Removed 2,000 telephones from guest rooms and donated them to a local housing organization that made these phones available to low-income tenants.
  • Florida hotels: Many of the state’s hotels saved up to 50 percent in waste disposal costs by starting a program that sold recyclable materials.

All of these above green travel trends are just the beginning of the travel industry becoming more and more environmentally-friendly. In addition to these programs, some hotels and travel companies are partnering with conservation funds to help protect natural habitats of animals and protect our world’s natural resources. Together, everyone can help make travel more environmentally-friendly and still enjoyable.

Related: Group hopes to save lives with recycled hotel soap

Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.

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