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Business Travellers Can Travel Light on the Earth

Co-op America Newsroom - Editorial
July 2002

More people are traveling for business now than they did just ten years ago. Traveling can be stressful on both us, and our planet. Imagine how much energy and water is consumed and how much waste is generated by the millions of people who travel each day. Many of us are aware about doing our part for the environment at home, including recycling, but how can we be responsible while on the road?

The good news is that we can easily combine comfort, convenience, and care for the earth in our travels. Neil Anstey, a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, travels almost every week to different cities for his job. He looks for creative ways to continue his good environmental habits while at work. And it's easier than you might think!

Neil suggests two of his favorite tips for making a smaller impact on the earth while traveling: "I don't have room in my bag for a water bottle, so I buy a bottle of water on Monday, when I arrive at my consulting job, and refill it during the week. This saves money too. I also keep the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on my hotel room door so the hotel won't waste water and energy cleaning my sheets and towels everyday."

Here are some other suggestions for helping the planet while doing business:

Before you leave home, you can take the first steps to green up your travel by turning down the thermostat on your hot water heater, adjusting your AC/heat thermostat and stopping your newspaper.

If you do have room in your bag, bring your own travel mug or water bottle. Many coffee shops offer a discount if you ask them to fill a reusable cup.

Look for green hotels from the Green Hotel Association at www.greenhotels.com. The Green Hotel Association defines "Green" Hotels as "properties whose management is eager to institute programs that save water and energy and reduce solid waste-and help Save Our Planet!" If you can't find one, encourage your hotel manager to become a green hotel and send them to the Green Hotel Association for more information.

Use locally owned accommodations and eat at locally owned restaurants. You will get a better flavor of the local culture while supporting the community.

Conserve energy. Turn lights, television and air conditioners off when you leave the hotel room.

Recycle when you can and ask airlines and hotels to provide recycling services.

Plane travel causes excess global warming. According to Journeys-- A Better World Travel Company, over 1,700 pounds of harmful greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere for each average domestic flight. Here are some ways to cut down on air travel pollution:

Combine trips or use teleconferencing instead and there will be less wear and tear on you, your budget and the planet.

Travel by train if possible.

Purchase electronic-tickets for airline travel whenever possible. Less waste and you'll move quicker through the lines at the airport too.

Use mass transit; if mass transit goes to the airport, it will often save you time since you won't get stuck in traffic. If you must rent a car, rent fuel-efficient cars. On the West Coast, you can rent super-efficient gas/electric hybrids and electric cars from Budget.

Walk to nearby locations to enjoy the local sights, instead of driving or taking a cab, breathe in some fresh air, and get some exercise.

Check out Jouneys, A Better World Travel Company at www.betterworldtravel.com. Book a flight through their Travel Cool program, and they'll invest your dollars in energy-saving projects and technologies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information on ecotravel, search for travel on Co-op America's National Green Pages Online at www.greenpages.org. The National Green Pages is a directory of thousands of socially and environmentally responsible businesses, services and products that helps consumers to support businesses working to solve, rather than cause environmental and social problems.

Amanda Johnson is the Public Education and Media Coordinator at Co-op America, a nonprofit consumer education organization for environmentally wise purchasing and investing. She can be reached at ajohnson@coopamerica.org.