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Tips For Green Travel

October 1, 2015
  |   Kristy Royce
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ExploringCircle strives to create and sell amazing and authentic travel experiences, while supporting businesses and people who share our values. We also donate a portion of our trip sales to individuals and organizations who are working on environmental and social issues.

Many of our partners are Rainforest Alliance certified. Following are tips for treading lightly while traveling from Rainforest Alliance:

Stay at certified sustainable hotels and lodges. 

It’s easy for any business to claim green credentials. To minimize the impact of your stay on local communities, waterways and land, check our new guide to certified sustainable hotels and lodges in Latin America and the Caribbean.  This is one of the criteria ExploringCircle uses when choosing a lodge or hotel.

Book responsible tours. There are plenty of tour operators who are committed to sustainability. When ExploringCircle partners with travel companies we are always looking for companies who share our values.

Book non-stop flights. Planes generate a significant percentage of their emissions during take-off and landing, so non-stop flights are the best way to go (and they’re less grueling, too).

Choose fuel-efficient planes. The Boeing 777, Boeing787 and Airbus 345 are considered among the best choices for responsible travel.

Buy carbon offsets. When you purchase a carbon offset, you are essentially paying someone (like one of like a climate smart coffee farmer) to help undo the environmental damage your flight causes. The cost is nominal, often no more than what it would cost to buy your row-mates a round of in-flight cocktails! As an organization that verifies carbon for the voluntary market, we at the Rainforest Alliance firmly believe that purchasing offsets is as essential to traveling as a good pair of shoes.

Pack lightly. Heavy planes burn more fuel. More fuel means more emissions. Your individual impact may be slight, but we can make a difference collectively if this is becomes the norm.

Pack smart. You know those pharmacy bins full of cute little travel-size shampoos, conditioners, sun blocks and other toiletries? Pass them by. Each one of those tiny plastic bottles will end up in landfill after just a few days of use. Instead, purchase a single set of empty containers and reuse them whenever you travel. And if your hotel provides mini-toiletries, leave them for the next guest: the fewer products used, the fewer purchased, and the fewer bits of plastic in landfill.

Just say no to micro-beads.

Avoid products that contain micro-beads, which appear in some toothpastes, exfoliating scrubs, body washes and dandruff shampoos. These tiny plastic beads slip through all manner of filtration systems and end up in waterways and the ocean, where hungry little fish gobble them up and introduce the toxic particles into the food chain. ExploringCircle partners with 5 Gyres, campaigning for legislation to ban harmful microbeads from US products.

Buy local—and buy wisely. Buying locally grown food and souvenirs from local farmers and artisans is a great way to support the surrounding community. But take care to never buy something made with an endangered species or plant; feathers, bones and fur products are all to be avoided.

Take a picture, leave the item. There’s no better place for a gorgeous shell or pretty stone than right where you found it. Remember, 1 billion people travel each year—if just a tiny percentage of them pocketed a natural souvenir or two, the total damage would be huge.

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