Planning Your Trip
Travel and tourism is the number one industry on earth, with 700 million people spending $2-$3 trillion on their trips annually. This can lead to overconsumption of energy and water, disruption of local cultures, and pollution of land and marine ecosystems at vacation destinations. Cruise ships alone dump 90,000 tons of sewage and garbage into our oceans daily. The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million U.S. travelers are ecologically concerned.
Before You Leave Home
Appliances, such as TVs and cable converter boxes, should be unplugged. They can draw, or leak, as much as 40 watts per hour even when they’re turned off.
In an effort to keep your mail from overflowing in the mailbox, and to help protect against identity theft, have the post office hold your mail for the time you are traveling. Fill out a form at your nearest post office branch or submit a hold mail request online.
Place a stop or hold on mail and deliveries. Daily newspapers, magazines and mail will pile up while you’re on vacation. Place a stop on all automatic deliveries. Call the newspaper circulation department and let them know you’ll be placing your delivery on hold for the time you’re away.
Turn off AC / heat or adjust the thermostat to protect plants, etc.
Turn off water at outside connection to prevent flooding should a pipe break while you are gone.
Turn your water heater to vacation mode or the lowest setting.
You can pick up your mail upon your return or specify the date to resume normal delivery of your mail.
Keeping the Eco in Ecotourism
For a true ecotourist experience, bear in mind the difference between nature and adventure travel. Jungle rafting might be exhilarating, but unless it brings economic and social benefit to local people, it isn’t ecotourism. Sometimes, the line is blurred. The Sierra Club works with in-country guides, local outfitters, and local nonprofits whenever possible. No matter what a lodge or tour is called, it’s worth asking for the eco-specifics before you book. Travel and communication have made us a global community, and becoming an ecotourist should mean giving back.
Participate in hotel linen programs, or let the hotel know that it’s not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day. Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins. Carry a dry cleaning or grocery bag with you in which to carry dirty laundry home.