We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we only borrow it from our children.
~ Ancient Proverb
Eco Travel: Responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment, contributes to the local economy and minimizes your impact.
As one of the world’s largest industries, Tourism makes an enormous impact on the environment. Travel to natural areas causes increased carbon emissions, while human activity often encroaches on wildlife and promotes the logging and clearing of land in order to build structures and hotels. However, travel to natural areas also presents unique opportunities for conservation. Paying entrance fees support conservation to parks and protected sites; Choosing locally-owned lodges, hotels, buses, car rental agencies, restaurants, guide services and shops contributes to the economy and well-being of local people; and attending local festivals and events preserves customs and culture.
We’ve collected an assortment of resources, ideas, and tips that will help insure your next trip not only minimizes your impact, but also gives something back. Although not every trip you take will be a perfect example of Eco Travel, every little positive bit you do will make a difference.
The single most important thing you can do is make informed choices.
1. Research: Look on the Internet and consult guidebooks for information on your destination’s environmental, social and political issues. See our section below for a listing of eco-friendly tours and operators.
2. Ask questions: Let tour operators/hotels know that you are a responsible consumer. Ask the hotel about their social and environmental policies. Do they recycle? Are they locally owned? What percentage of their employees are locals? What do they do to give back to their community? Are their policies in writing?
3. Choose wisely: Although not every business can be “green” in all areas, they should have genuinely sound eco-friendly practices in as many areas as possible. Don’t be fooled by “green washing.” "Eco" is a fashionable label used widely in the travel industry. Although it sounds appealing, much of what is marketed as "eco" is simply conventional tourism with superficial changes, so it's important to check behind the labels. Do the businesses you're considering have eco-label ratings, or have they won eco-awards? Can they easily answer your questions about their policies? Make a judgment call based on their response.
ECO TOUR OPERATORS
• American Hiking Society - visit stunning backcountry locations to construct or rebuild footpaths, cabins and shelters.
• AWRTA - Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association
• Beautiful Oceans - recreational diving, snorkeling and coral reef conservation.
• Coral Cay Conservation - A non-profit organisation that trains volunteers to collect scientific data to aid conservation
• Conservation International Eco Tourism Destinations - The projects showcased on this site are implemented by CI directly or by our partners.
• Eco Tourism Ring - The original Ecotourism Ring, since 1998, unites Genuine Ecotourism websites worldwide.
• Eco Volunteer - protect nature and its inhabitants by helping local organizations with their conservation projects.
• Eco Tour Companies - comprehensive list of ecotourism companies worldwide
• Global Exchange - “Reality Tours” Travelers are linked with activists and organizations from around the globe that are working toward positive change.
• Hope for the Rainforest Ecotours
• Independent Traveler "Go Green Travel Center" - online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel
• International Ecotourism Society - members listed have signed a Code of Conduct stating that they follow the guidelines of responsible ecotourism travel.
• Natural Habitat Adventures - 100% carbon neutral travel company
• Responsible travel.com - directory of accommodations and eco holidays
• Sustainable Travel International - a unique destination guide designed to help you make responsible travel choices
• The Nature Conservancy - Travel to an exotic place on customized nature travel tours
• Walk, bike or use public transportation when possible. If you must drive a car or take a taxi, use locally-owned companies and rent a hybrid, if possible.
• When renting a car, choose the smallest vehicle that can comfortably accommodate you. Decline any "free" upgrades (which will cost you more in gas).
• Traveling 55 mph rather than 65 mph buys a 15% mileage increase.
• Flying Responsibly: Your flight can be the most polluting aspect of your travel: The average US domestic flight releases 1700 lbs/passenger of C02--which is a main contributor to global warming.
You can help offset carbon emissions from planes (or cars) by paying someone to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere on your behalf. These organizations make it easy:
• Carbonfund.org - nonprofit organization that offers climate change education, carbon reductions and offsets and energy-efficient projects.
• CarbonNeutral.com - provide excellent, great value goods and services, which help to reduce emissions of “greenhouse gases.”
• Climate Care - offsets your CO2 by funding projects around the world.
• Green Transportation - Strategies for Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Transportation
• Greener Cars - selection of gasoline vehicles that score well
• Fuel Economy.gov - Data on the fuel economy of both new and used cars by the environmental Protection Agency provides
• Carbon Offsetting Calculator - Calculate your atmospheric footprint and learn how you can offset it
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A HOTEL IS ECO-FRIENDLY? HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO LOOK FOR:
• Linen reuse programs (signs in rooms encourage guests to reuse their towels and other linens).
• Energy- and water-saving fixtures in guest rooms and other areas (including use of compact fluorescent light bulbs).
• Use of solar or wind energy.
• Use of recycled paper products.
• Non-toxic and/or biodegradable cleaning and laundry supplies.
• Guest room and hotel recycling.
• Use of re-newable or recyled products (hotel construction, furniture, etc.).
• Water-efficient landscaping with minimal chemical use.
• Attention to indoor air quality (mold prevention, dust control, vent cleaning, etc.)
• Grey water recycling.
• Bulk Soap, Shampoo, and Lotion Dispensers.
• Hotel educates guests and staff about “green.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO DECREASE YOUR IMPACT DURING YOUR STAY:
• Turn off the lights and TV, and close the drapes when you leave your hotel room.
• If the hotel does not have a linen re-use program in place, ask that your sheets and towels do not get changed and laundered every day if it is not needed.
• Do not take the sample containers of soaps and shampoo if you do not need them. If you use the hotel's toiletries, take them with you and use what remains at home or during the rest of your trip.
• When you make hotel reservations, tell the General Manager that you are choosing their hotel because of their Green practices.
• Don’t throw recylables in the garbage. Take them with you and recyle them at your next opportunity.
• Green Hotels Association - environmentally-friendly properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy and reduce solid waste
• Eco friendly hostels – listing of eight hostels with environmentally-friendly practices.
• Eco resorts - eco-friendly safari adventures.
• Environmentally Friendly Hotels - search by hotel name, location, or specific environmental issues.
CULTURAL EXCHANGE LINKS
Stay with local people, either in their homes, bunkhouse or guest house, and gain practical experience by working on a farm, ranch, hostel, inn or boat, in exchange for meals and accommodation.
• Wwoof USA - network of organic farms around the world that welcome travelers in exchange for help on the farm.
• Organic Volunteers - free site that lists mainly farms in the U.S.
• Help Exchange - listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farm stays, home stays, ranches, lodges, B&B, inns, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation (board and lodging).
• National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - directory of on-the-job learning opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture
TEACHING FARMS/ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATIONAL CENTERS
• Slide Ranch - non-profit teaching farm located at a historic coastal dairy in the Marin Headlands within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
• Emandal - A farm on a river - Family camps, environmental education and seasonal jobs on an organic farm
• Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary - an environmental education center that offers experiential learning programs and training opportunities while serving as a model of conservation land stewardship.
• When traveling don’t buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered animals or products that contribute to deforestation: beef from rainforest countries and hardwoods such as mahagony and teak.
• Buy products that sustain a rainforest: Brazil nuts, rubber, rattan, pottery, tagua nut products (jewelry, buttons, etc.)
• Bring your own re-usable bags to the market. If you go shopping once a week you’ll keep an average of 500 bags out of the landfill.
• Always try to buy local. Local food doesn't have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive, in addition to the fact that local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances.
• Coffee: Many café’s and coffee houses now offer “shade grown” coffee (coffee that is grown under a canopy of diverse species of shade trees, often on small farms using traditional techniques) or coffee that has been harvested using sustainable agricultural techniques. Read the labels before you buy. If nothing else, buy the best quality, small farm coffee you can.
• Buy Fresh, Buy Local - a compilation of family farms, restaurants, grocers, institutions, and food artisans whom share a common mission to support and promote local food
• The Rainforest Alliance - The Rainforest Alliance works with foresters, farmers and tour operators throughout the world to ensure that their goods and services are environmentally and socially friendly. Conscientious consumers can "vote with their dollars" to support environmental conservation by choosing such products.The Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council Certified seals can be found in all these places!
Travel close to home. The less you drive, the easier your trip is on the environment.
• Explore the connection between the earth and the food on your plate. Outstanding in the Field is a nomadic al fresco kitchen that brings together local farmers, food artisans, chefs and winemakers. The dinners always take place outdoors, near the source of the ingredients for your meal. This is generally a farm, a ranch, sea cave, winery or other locale in various locations in the United States and Canada.
• Look for philanthropic opportunities combined with travel, allowing you to help local communities with educational materials, construction or other goods and services. Some resources included Habitat for Humanity and Cross-cultural Solutions.
• Travel with a re-usable, refillable Nalgene water bottle and Kick the bottled water habit. Although plastic water bottles are generally recyclable, the recycling rate of plastics is very low so billions of them wind up in landfills.
• Learn Leave No Trace ethics. Leave No Trace teaches responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide.
Whenever possible, buy the best quality products that cause no unnecessary harm. Patagonia currently uses the following environmentally friendlier fibers in a number of products: recycled and recyclable polyester, organic cotton, hemp, organic wool and chlorine-free wool. Visit Adventure 16 for a great selection of Patagonia’s environmentally friendly product line.
We want your underwear. Return your worn out Capilene® Performance Baselayers to Adventure 16 for recycling. We participate in Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling Program which accepts Patagonia fleece, Polartec® fleece from other manufacturers, and Patagonia organic cotton T-shirts for recycling.
Go Green Travel Green--Travel Tips for the Eco Conscious Traveler
eCards - paperless eCards to spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues about conservation.
Measure Your Eco-Footprint
Personal Carbon Calculator
Living without air conditioning
Living Green - 365 Ways to Make a Difference, Page-a-Day calendar, $11.99 - Available at all Adventure 16 stores.
Code Green by Lonely Planet - A guidebook of adventures all over the world that adhere to the principles of responsible travel. $19.99 - available at all Adventure 16 locations.
The Patagonia Foundation - The Patagonian Foundation endeavors to protect and preserve the Patagonian culture and environment by promoting economic, social and environmental sustainability. The Foundation forms cooperative partnerships with individuals and regional, national and international organizations to develop and implement programs that will promote sustainable and responsible economic growth, maintain quality of life, and preserve and permanently protect Patagonia's vast land and diverse ecosystems.
The Patagonian Foundation envisions a sustainable Patagonia that is globally recognized and preserved as one of the world's few remaining unspoiled and wild environments.
Save a Rainforest for free with a click of your mouse
Ecology fund - click to preserve wilderness lands
National Park Service Air Quality Website
Hiking, backpacking, and other wilderness activities, are potentially dangerous and unpredictable. Adventure 16 assumes no liability for injuries associated with the use of information provided on this site. The trails, activities and areas described on this site are to be used for informational purposes only and should not be your sole source of guidance. Always thoroughly research any outdoor area you plan to visit using various resources - including contacting local ranger stations - to obtain the most up to date information for your destination. Contact your physician if you are unsure about your health or physical abilities.