Planning a greener getaway

Roam close to home and do right by the planet.


First, let’s acknowledge that there is no truly green holiday, only shades of grey. At home or away, each one of us is a net drain on the planet’s finite resources. But small changes can make a big difference, and travellers today are more willing to scale back their consumption. We might opt for environmentally friendly travel in future, such as taking buses and trains to cut down on airplane carbon emissions. Companies have been quick to exploit this trend, to the point of utter market confusion. A Google search for “green travel” now yields more than one million results. Consumers are wisely suspicious. 



Avoiding airplane travel is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you must fly, book economy (more people per plane, for best use of the resource), and choose direct flights, since takeoff and landing guzzle the most fuel. A short-haul flight to a wilderness destination may be a valid environmental option if the rest of your trip requires no further reliance on carbon-spewing mechanization.



British Columbia residents can travel affordably and sustainably while discovering the wonders of their own province. Consider camping, hiking, biking, paddling, or other low-impact forms of outdoor recreation. Once you're in the outdoors, step lightly. Stick to marked trails and practice no-trace camping.



If you're driving to your destination, make sure your vehicle's tires are properly inflated and its engine is well maintained. You'll do the environment less harm - and save money on gas - by packing light, keeping your speed down, driving smoothly, and keeping the air conditioner off. If you're renting, consider a hybrid vehicle.



On the road, bring nutritious snacks instead of relying on waste-producing fast-food joints. Keep any recyclable refuse until you can find an appropriate bin. Look for farms and farmers' markets in route: buying fresh food direct from the producer is fun, healthy, and supports the local economy. Avoid buying plastic bottles; carry a thermos to fill with tap water. Take your own mug into coffe shops. 



Ultimately, the point of green holiday planning is not make you feel bad about travelling, but to encourage a new mindset about your choices. "We need to have sacred places where we go with respect, not just looking for resources or opportunity," confirms David Suzuki.