For the eco-conscious, traveling to a new place can pose several challenges. With the CDC citing pollution as the cause of 5% of our nation’s diseases, you may feel anxious about how your travel plans will impact the planet.
You may be familiar with green choices you can make at home and in your immediate vicinity. However, a new city will have new methods for keeping green. You might be feeling overwhelmed with all the options or simply don’t know where to even start your research.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint on City Trips. From travel suggestions to lodging recommendations, you can rest assured that your trip will remain just as eco-friendly as your home.
1. Walk When You Can
If you aren’t used to being in the city, it can be difficult to part with your car. Even though the traffic is a nightmare, you’re used to driving at home. It feels natural, and it can be difficult to take even a short trip without it.
According to the EPA, journeys of less than a mile taken by car add up to 10 billion miles per year in America. So if you’re just taking a trip down to the market or the strip, leave the car behind. You’ll be doing your part to reduce the carbon footprint of the city you’re visiting.
2. Utilize Electric Alternatives
Most large cities now have electric scooters and bikes that you can rent. In most cases, all you’ll need to do is download an app. When you come across a scooter or bike, you can follow the instructions on the app to rent the vehicle for a short period of time.
While not as environmentally conscious as walking, it is a great alternative for slightly longer trips around town. Plus, you’ll still be reducing your footprint. According to Lime, cities with electric scooter programs can reduce their emissions by 35 metric tons a day!
It’s important to do your part in utilizing these programs so that cities will continue to fund them.
3. Bring Your Own Bags
If you’re planning on doing any kind of shopping while you’re in the city, go ahead and bring your own bags. If you don’t already have reusable bags, it’s a good idea to stock up. You can use these in your home town, as well.
According to Plastic Pollution, 8 million metric tons of plastic bags end up in our oceans each year. This leads to a decline in natural wildlife and water quality. In addition, the factories that produce plastic bags emit tons of harmful gases everyday.
By bringing your own bags on your shopping trips, you can help reduce pollution and the need for future plastic bag production.
4. Opt for Emailed Receipts
The majority of stores these days offer a no receipt or email receipt option at checkout. This simple step helps to reduce paper waste. Unless you keep receipts for reimbursement, tax purposes, or returns, there’s no need to have one printed. You’ll probably end up throwing it away.
If you do need proof of purchase for one reason or another, simply ask to have the receipt emailed. If a small store doesn’t have this option, a physical receipt is ok. It’s just a best practice to avoid excessive paper use when aiming to reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Buy Local
Larger companies typically use more machinery to keep up with their demand. On the other hand, local companies can utilize people’s power to create and package their goods. By shopping local, you’re reducing the amount of chemicals and gases large companies feel they are forced to produce.
6. Choose Green Hotels
If you’re visiting the city for more than one night, make sure you do your research on hotels. Some do more than others to reduce their impact on the environment. Here are a few hotels in major cities that are trying to stay green:
Seattle: Hyatt at Olive 8
Hyatt was the first LEED-certified hotel in the city, which means it is a certified green hotel. From low-flow plumbing to farm-to-table food, the hotel is state-of-the-art when it comes to green technology. They even use organic products in their spa!
Los Angeles: Shore Hotel
Another LEED-certified hotel, Shore has a gold certification. This puts the hotel at the forefront of green hotel innovation. Some of their recent additions include a solar-heated pool and sustainable wood furniture.
Denver: Westin International Airport
As a platinum LEED-certified hotel, The Westin outshines all others. They offset 100% of their energy consumption with renewable resources. The building also uses 20% less water and 16% less energy than most buildings of a similar size and construction.
Nashville: Hutton Hotel
The Hutton Hotel is home to Nashville’s most eco-friendly lodging. The hotel is designed with sustainable bamboo flooring and furniture. They have replaced mini-bottles of toiletries with refillable dispensers. They also have a hotel-wide recycling program and dual flush toilets for water conservation.
According to the director of the Green Hotels Association, Dallas is a great place to find a green hotel. They have an ample number of sustainable options for visitors to choose from.
The Fairmount in Dallas seems to be at the forefront of the race to be green. They only change linens and towels at the request of guests, which limits water consumption. A unique feature of the hotel is their terrace level. It houses a 3000 square foot garden and several beehives.
They also have an extensive recycling program that reduces food waste and tree and water consumption.
New York: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
New York has an ample amount of eco-friendly hotels, but the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge takes the cake. The impressive hotel has a 25 ft. living wall that is fully powered by wind energy.
Almost all of the decor is re-claimed or made of up cycled materials. Their water goes through a three filter process. Even their hairdryers are environmentally friendly! This hotel is truly a eco-conscious dream!
Portland: Kimpton Hotels
Each and every Kimpton Hotel is Green Key Certified. Their Portland location offers parking discounts to drivers of hybrids. Their restaurants buy organic or source from their own gardens.
Key cards and certain areas of flooring are made from recycled materials. In addition, they use non-toxic and eco-friendly cleaning products throughout the hotel.
Chicago: Virgin Hotels
Virgin Hotels ranked number seven in eco-friendly hotels in Chicago in 2017. They bumped up to the number six spot in 2018. While they aren’t number one, the affordable chain of hotels gives eco-conscious consumers a budget-friendly hotel option when visiting the city.
They have green housekeeping services, recycling available throughout their hotels, green roofs, and they donate soap to Clean the World.
Take These Eco-Сontainers Anywhere You Go
7. Minimize Luggage
Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, minimizing your luggage can save you money while reducing your impact on the environment. Unnecessary weight in your car can lead to an increase in fuel consumption and gas emissions. The same goes for planes, plus you’ll end up paying additional baggage fees.
According to Natural Resources Canada, “Heavier vehicles have greater inertia and greater rolling resistance, which both contribute to increased fuel consumption. Reducing weight is a very effective way to improve a vehicle’s efficiency.” For this reason, it’s best for the environmentally conscious to avoid overpacking for their city trips.
8. Recycle When Possible
Not only does recycling help to reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, it also produces jobs. That’s why it’s the perfect way for any economic conscious person to help reduce their carbon footprint.
The EPA cites a White House Task Force report that shows 195 million cubic yards of waste were kept out of landfills in 2005 because of recycling efforts. This is only a small percentage of our overall waste, and we have a long way to go if we want to save our planet.
You can do your part by holding onto recyclable goods until you find a green recycling can or you return to your hotel where recycling is available. If neither of these options are offered in the city you’re visiting, there are alternatives. Seek out a recycling plant in the area, or wait until you return home to dispose of recyclable goods.
9. Opt for a Reusable Water Bottle
If you want to minimize the amount of recycling you’ll have to do, make sure to pack or purchase a reusable water bottle. Not only does the plastic of the bottle contribute to ocean and air pollution, it also contributes to water waste.
Did you know that it takes three liters of water to produce one, 16 oz. bottle? The World Counts does. They also report that it takes 700 years for a plastic bottle to start to decompose. That means your waste will still be around long after your great grandchildren have passed.
There are no benefits to this waste, either. ABC News reports that in the United States, most bottled waters are no better for you than the tap water from your sink.
So before buying another case of plastic bottles or using the ones from your hotel, purchase a reusable water bottle from an environmentally friendly company.
10. Take Public Transportation
Although public transportation isn’t the cleanest way to travel, it is much more environmentally friendly than a personal vehicle. According to the United States Department of Transportation, rail transit systems emit little to no pollution.
Buses and other transportation methods now use alternative fuels, like natural gas. Even forms of transport that have traditionally used diesel are being converted to burn hybrid or bio-diesel fuels instead.
Because it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to walk or scooter everywhere, make sure you know what public transportation options are available in the city you’re visiting.
Most large cities will have a subway, bus, railway, or ferry system. Read up on the schedules, and plan ahead for routes that will consume the least amount of time and energy.