4 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Globetrotter
See the world, save the planet. By ASHLEY NIEDRINGHAUS.
Published on May 18, 2016
BASIC ECO-TRAVEL logic tells us to reuse towels, turn off all the lights when leaving and skip the frequent linen changes at a hotel. (You're doing this already, right? Good.) But here are four other do-good changes every traveler should consider making, and ways the industry is giving jet-setting green sheen.
Illustration: Diane Labombarbe/Getty Images.
1. Offset your journey.
Erasing carbon emissions from traveling is surprisingly cheap. For example, to go carbon neutral on a round-trip journey from Hong Kong to Los Angeles costs less than US$30 on TerraPass.com.
WHAT'S NEW: Thanks to more efficient engines and lighter bodies, the next generation of jetliners is setting a new standard for emissions. Leading the pack is the Airbus A350 XWB, which took to the skies in January 2015 boasting 25 percent lower fuel consumption than its closest competitors.
2. Ride wisely.
Today, more than 700 cities in 57 countries have adopted urban bike-sharing programs—which offer a 360-degree way to scope out a town. Bikesharingmap.com has a full list of the places where you can borrow or rent wheels.
WHAT'S NEW: If biking just isn't your speed, The Peninsula Tokyo (Tesla rental ¥7,000 per hour) has you covered with 2014 addition of Tesla Model S to the hotel's lineup of luxury cars. The all-electric, plug-in sedan is the first in Japan that is available to guests for chauffeured trips and round-trip airport transfers.
3. Fly economy.
If you book an economy ticket, not only will you be saving money on the flight, but you'll be in a higher class of eco-friendliness than passengers in business and first. A 2013 study by the World Bank found that, when compared to an economy ticket, the carbon footprint of a business-class passenger is three times greater, and first is nine times higher. So go on, suck it up and sacrifice a little legroom for the greater good.
WHAT'S NEW: There are a few perks for economy passengers. In March 2015, Jetstar began offering Ecothread blankets, by Buzz Products; the cozy fabric looks and feels like polar fleece, but is made entirely from plastic bottles. You can upgrade your own in-flight experience with House of Marley's over-ear headphones. The brand uses upcycled fabric, recycled bottles, organic cotton, reclaimed hemp and ethically sourced wood to craft a chic audio experience that doesn't compromise on sound. Proceeds from the headphones help fund 1Love, a foundation that supports environmental causes around the globe.
4. Look for leaves.
Search for sustainable accommodation at Environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com, which rates places not by standard stars, but green leaves—earned based on how much of a 30-point checklist a property meets. Perennially popular hotel search engines like Hotels.com, Travelocity and TripAdvisor also have rolled out green and eco filters.
WHAT'S NEW: On Earth Day in 2015, TripAdvisor launched their GreenLeaders badge, a recognition given to properties that meet a high standard of eco-practices, in Australia and New Zealand. The initiative is the world's largest green hotel program, with more than 8,000 hotels in 67 countries, including 170 newly minted locations in Australia and New Zealand.