2:39 am
Fri January 30, 2009

Green Tip 12 - Support Local Tourism/Plant A Seed

Hocking Hills, OH –

A couple of weeks ago the Green Tip was about "An Eco-Friendly Vacation". In this article I outlined some ideas of what our family does to tread more lightly on the earth while we vacation. This week I would like to share a few more ideas for earth-friendly travel.

When it comes to travel and vacations, there are many options. With tent camping you bring most everything in with you and everything out with you. Outside of the gas used to transport you and your camping gear, you use very little energy, very few natural resources and you are right "out there" in nature to see the stars and hear the soothing sounds of nature, keeping you connected with nature. Of course, this is a very reasonably priced way to travel as well. For some people, traveling via a camper is the way to go, for others it's driving somewhere in their own state or a nearby state. For some, flying and a stay at a 5-star hotel are a must. Choosing the mode of travel, a lodging destination, lodging type and what one will do on a trip is a very personal decision based upon personal preference, style and monetary budget.

There are some important things that anyone can do while on vacation to leave a lighter footprint on the earth. Although there are many, I will discuss the following two ideas: support the local businesses and kindly plant a seed of what you expect for eco-friendly travel when you visit any business.

Obviously, you will be supporting the local tourism economy by staying at a locally owned lodging destination. Another way to support the local tourism is to dine at locally owned Mom & Pop restaurants (preferably serving organic/locally produced food with Vegetarian choices). While we were away we cooked most of our organic food at our lodging unit. The few times we did eat out, we chose small local restaurants, not chains. One had fresh vegetable options (a few local items); Vegetarian options and even served a locally brewed beer. Another great idea is to visit local farmer's markets, fresh farm stands, and small family farms (preferably organic and local produce). It happened to be cherry season where we went, so we stopped by a very small family farm and purchased the most delicious cherries. What a treat!

Some people truly enjoy shopping (this is not in my blood). For those who love to shop, it is important to purchase items that are locally made out of local materials and/ or purchased from a small local businesses selling Fair Trade wares (Fair Trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empower developing countries producing and promoting sustainability). Stores selling locally produced art by local artists is a great idea. It is also important to seek out stores that are selling environmentally friendly items such as organic soaps, naturally made candles, organic cotton/hemp clothing.

In addition to visiting locally operated businesses, it is important to "plant a green seed" while you are away. If any business you visit does not recycle, mention it to the employees or owner. Kindly ask if they recycle. Indicate that you make your purchasing decisions based on how environmentally responsible a business is. Is your lodging facility using all-natural/biodegradable cleaning and toiletry items, providing recycled toilet paper and tissue products, using natural pest and lawn control? When dining at a restaurant, ask them if they serve organic and/or locally produced food. At coffee shops, ask if they offer organic and/or fair trade options for coffee and tea. If you love to shop, ask for locally made, Fair Trade and/or environmentally produced products. If you plan on filling out a survey card, make your comments and suggestions on the card.

Traveling to new places can fun, educational, relaxing and invigorating. Now, hopefully you have some tools to keep the beautiful places we go to for vacation clean, culturally unique and sustainable from an environmental, economic and health standpoint.

Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, owner of Bear's Den Cottages
www.bearsdencottages.com, Green Lodging

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