When heading off on your next vacation, who not go "green"?
There are plenty of environmentally-friendly places to head to and, on The Early Show Tuesday, Plenty magazine Editor Jessica Tzerman gave details on four of them.
She also suggested ways you can stay green yourself as you travel.
Galapagos Islands -- about $1500/week: This is a place with a very fragile eco-system. It's a true global treasure, with wildlife species that have been there for hundreds of years and beyond. Real untouched places. When you're there, you can take a trip around the island and get up close and personal with the environment. One of the last great, wild places.
Chattanooga, Tenn.: Memphis loves to sing them blues, but in Chattanooga, the tune is "Go Green." The river town has come a long way since being designated America's most polluted city in 1969. Today, 22 miles of once inaccessible riverfront have been reclaimed for public use, and revitalization projects have made the city a model eco town and tourist hotspot.
Car-Free Islands: Take a break from the traffic, pollution, and gas prices and visit one of the handful of U.S car-free islands, including Dry Tortugas National Park. Some 70 miles west of Key West lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past.
Burlington, Vt.: In this small city on Lake Champlain, community pride and responsibility drive the urge to be green. More than a-third of the energy used in the city comes from renewable resources, an impressive statistic in chilly New England. Burlington laws don't allow the use of pesticides on public parks, land or waterways. Challenged by their local leaders to come up with environmental priorities and solutions to existing problems, residents formed an extensive network of citizen-based groups that take on everything from environmental programs to cleaning up toxic sites to watchdog groups monitoring pollution in the lake. With local agriculture a mainstay, schools are switching to locally- and organically-grown foods. The idea of sustainability is becoming part of the school curriculum so, as Burlington's children grow and take their places in the community -- any community -- they can take a greener way of thinking along with them.
CONSIDER A CARBON OFFSET
This is a way to stay green as you go to green places!
Through a number of companies, tour operators and airlines, you can purchase an "offset" to compensate for the eco-impact of your travel. A number of companies now offer the service, usually providing mileage calculators on their Web sites to help you gauge your emissions. In effect, you are purchasing activities that are calculated to remove as much CO2 from the air as you contributed through your travel. This is accomplished by funding solar and wind energy, supporting tree plantings, etc.
For example: Travelocity is the first major online travel company to enable customers to purchase "carbon offsets" during the checkout process when they buy travel, as an add-on to your purchase during check out. A contribution of $10 offsets an average trip including air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and rental car for one person; $25 negates air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for two people; and $40 equalizes the effects of air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for four people. Travelocity then gives the carbon offset funds to The Conservation Fund's carbon offset program, "Go Zero."
LOOK FOR THE ECO SEALS OF APPROVAL
To help travelers evaluate their travel choices, from bungalows to beaches, there are now "green" certification programs that rate environmental and social impacts of hotels and other tourism businesses. They help travelers make responsible choices. These include "Green Key," an eco-label awarded to hotels, hostels and restaurants that have met environmental standards. Or "Blue Flag," an exclusive eco-label awarded to more than 3,300 beaches and marinas that have met strict criteria dealing with issues of water quality and conservation.
ONCE YOU'RE THERE, PLEASE REMEMBER:
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle: To avoid waste and adding plastic bottles to landfills, travel with your own refillable water bottle, or a bottle and portable filter for international destinations. A great way to reduce your waste footprint. (Rubbermaid makes a reusable water bottle with built in filter to remove chlorine and odors).
Portable Solar Chargers include the Solio Charger, Hymini Charger, Solar backpacks, Zegna Sport Solar Jacket. You have lots of options for clean portable power.
And bring the 'good' green habits you may already have at home! The little things you can do to conserve energy and reduce your impact such as re-using hotel towels and sheets Hang up your towels and request that the hospitality staff don't change the sheets -- it saves water and reduces energy and chemical usage. Use water sparingly -- it's very precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people. Take local transportation. And look for organic food and products.