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Vacations are your chance to get away from it all. Your escape into an alternate reality where you can let go of the daily struggles and stresses and relax in whichever fashion you desire. Some prefer a relaxing beach vacation, possibly even to a tropical island. Others prefer to explore the back roads of a foreign country. While the adventurous prefer to escape into nature and take a long, soul searching trek across the raw backdrop of any landscape, foreign or domestic. However you vacation, one thought probably hasn't crossed your mind too often, and that is what is the carbon footprint of my vacation?

When we “check out” to “check in” on vacation, we tend to forget all the things we have in place at home to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to the green way of life. We use electricity in the hotels all day and sometimes all night because we can; we aren't paying that power bill at the end of the month! We travel on planes, rent cars, and drive a lot more than we would in our day to day lives because we are sightseeing, visiting, and making memories! We eat delicious food but tell the server, don’t worry about the doggy bag for leftovers because, really, how is that going to fit in the mini fridge?! The list of extravagances goes on and on because, let’s be honest, we are on vacation and have earned it! Not to mention, that all the while, we still have a home or apartment with the air running, the lights on timers so no one really knows we are gone, the refrigerator humming, and so forth. So it’s truly a double whammy of energy use!

Don’t get me wrong, you are entitled to a vacation of your own making. You work hard and save hard. So play hard.

The hotel industry has recognized that we, as consumers, are becoming more sophisticated and educated in our decisions. They recognize that while we still want to feel like we are escaping, there is a personal responsibility to Mother Earth that many of us do not want to relinquish just because we are on vacation. Marriot was the first major hotel chain to calculate their carbon footprint and launch a plan to improve their global impact through reduction and reuse. The MGM Grand has reduced their emissions of CO2E by over 100,000 metric tons annually. The Four Seasons launched their 10 Million Trees Initiative to celebrate their 50th anniversary in which the hotel chain planted 10 million trees across 24 countries to offset their carbon emissions and combat deforestation. The majority of hotel convention sites have numerous recycling options available to reduce water, electrical, and paper waste. They are beginning to make a difference in their business practices and we as consumers should applaud them.

We encourage you to do a little more research the next time you are in vacation mode. Look for hotels and resorts with an LEED certification or a Green Initiative in place, or even better, some cork flooring or wall coverings! How can you reduce your travel footprint? Using local transportation (bus, Uber, cab, trolley, etc.) rather than a rental car can sometime open your eyes to places you normally wouldn't know about by allowing you to talk with locals about the best places to eat and visit! What can you bring with you to reduce your waste? A reusable water bottle is an easy place to start (and easy to pack too!). These small changes can have a big effect on the ever changing environment and lessen the impact of travel on the environment. We live in a beautiful world that we want to explore on our vacations – let’s take care of it too!

January 09, 2015

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