Green Your Summer Vacation

Reduce Footprints Challenge this week is:

This week, head over to Zero Waste Week 2011 and commit to at least one activity which will reduce waste away from home. Be sure to come back here and share your commitment. The same rules will apply as always … if you write about it and/or tweet about, you’ll be honored next week. After committing to an activity, keep track of your progress because we’ll be talking about our successes next week.

For this challenge, I have “recycled” an article I wrote for Westford Patch back in June which listed tips for greening your vacation.  I have reprinted it here.

Summer means vacation! Making your vacation more environmentally-friendly does not mean you need to bike to your destination or even find a green hotel!
Although those certainly would do it, there are simpler things you can do wherever you go.
Before You Leave Home

  • Turn your hot water heater to “vacation” (or down low). Just remember to turn it back up when you return. When I had an energy audit, the auditor told me this makes sense to do anytime  you are away for more than three days. 
  • Set your thermostats up  so you aren’t cooling  your home unnecessarily. 
  • Unplug everything you don’t need running – TV, coffee maker, toaster, stereos, microwave, cable box, etc. Anything with a clock or remote control continues to use electricity even if you are not using it. I recently discovered that a cable box can draw almost as much electricity even when it’s turned off.  
  • Stop your newspaper. No sense in just recycling it when you get home. 
  • Driving? Make sure your car is tuned up and your tires are at the correct pressure to get the best gas mileage possible. 
  • Bring reuseables such as water bottles, snack bags and grocery bags. This way you can pack your own snacks or even lunch, saving you money on eating out. You will also be saving the packaging of single serve items. Bottled water is super expensive especially at vacation destinations. You can refill your water bottles for free most anywhere. And remember that grocery bags can be used for any purchase. 
  • Flying?  You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it on the other side. 
  • Another tip for flying – instead of printing your boarding pass, see if your airline has a mobile boarding pass application that allows you to use your phone for your boarding pass. 
  • Instead of buying new books, magazines or DVDs, go to the J.V. Fletcher library or borrow from a friend. 

 At Your Destination

  • Look for recycling bins at amusement parks or other attractions. 
  • Find out the recycling options. Ask the hotel or property agent. Recycling rules vary greatly. You may need to separate your bottles from your paper. 
  • If you are in a hotel, take advantage of their programs. Most hotels will offer to conserve water by not washing your towels everyday. 
  • You already have your water bottle so no need to buy bottles of water. 
  • Turn down the AC/heat and shut off lights when you leave. Hotels are now starting to install devices connected with your key that will automatically shut the lights off when you leave. You may not be paying for these directly, but we all are paying for it in the end.
  • Try to resist the tacky souvenirs that will break quickly and be thrown away. I know this is difficult with children. Hats, T-shirts, even a great picture make fantastic souvenirs too.   

You may be great at recycling at home, but going to a new place may throw your routines off. Little steps. Pick one thing – maybe bringing your water bottle.  I bring mine everywhere because I find it so convenient and I drink more water this way.  Always a good thing.  
Most importantly, have a great time!


8 Responses to Green Your Summer Vacation

  1. Rae September 6, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    thanks for taking part in zero waste week and for recycling such a great article. There are lots of useful tips here I shall be sharing with our readers 🙂
    Rae aka mrsgreen

  2. The Greening Of Westford September 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Rae! I was glad to have found your blog.

  3. Moonbeams and Eco-Dreams September 23, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    Thanks for the tips. Turning down the water heater when going away. Great idea that I never would have thought of!

  4. verdica September 27, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    Great tips!! Thank you!!


  5. The Greening Of Westford October 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    So glad you stopped by Moonbeams and Eco-Dreams. I love the water heater one too – thanks to that Energy auditor!

  6. The Greening Of Westford October 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Hola Verdica! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Jen February 18, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    I really like that you added tips on how you should prepare your home for your vacation. Great tips!

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