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Ask T+L: Recycling Abroad, Pyramids, San Francisco, Hong Kong

Q: My family and I are renting a country house in England. Do we need to follow any specific recycling guidelines? —Charlotte Gandossi, Jacksonville, Fla.

A: Recyclable glass, paper, and metal collection is common in England (as in much of the United States). But some cities and towns are going even further. For example, the London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, and Waltham Forest are making recycling compulsory with a “three strikes and you’re fined” policy enabled by the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 (the local town councils are vigilant about its enforcement), and others are likely to follow suit. Before you arrive, check with your rental agency for information or visit recyclenow.com, which lets you search by postal code for recycling practices throughout the U.K.

Q: I am going to Egypt this winter to see the Pyramids for the first time. How can I minimize my impact when traveling there? —Farah Ali, Detroit, Mich.

A: For a fragile archaeological site like the Pyramids of Giza, near Cairo, tourism is both a boon and a threat. While ticket revenues do help fund conservation efforts, the mere presence of travelers can adversely affect monument conditions, according to Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. Have your guide or driver park at designated areas that are a short distance from the Pyramids, and then walk to the site. “Giza’s most delicate areas include enclosed quarters and tombs with delicate paint, where humidity can build up from our breath,” Hawass says. “So reduce the time you spend inside, avoid flash photography, refrain from touching walls and objects, and don’t enter with large purses or bags—they can brush up against ancient hieroglyphics.” For a tailor-made visit to Egypt see “20 Life-Changing Trips.”

Q: Can you suggest a walking tour in San Francisco? —Josh Andres, Tucson, Ariz.

A: With historic neighborhoods like Nob Hill and Hayes Valley, and nearby state parks, San Francisco is a great city to explore on foot. To unearth hidden gems, join history buff Rick Evans on an architectural walking tour that includes a secret rooftop garden ($20 per person). Or, just outside the city, take a walk through the woods—literally. Tom Martell, a naturalist who has been volunteering with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for more than 30 years, offers two-to four-mile guided tours through the redwoods of Muir Woods. Also consider switching your GPS to pedestrian mode for an impromptu tour. Several Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan models offer walking directions to points of interest.

Ask an Expert T+L Senior Editor Amy Farley

Q: I will be in Hong Kong for a business trip. What’s the best way to navigate the city? —Zachary Glick, Columbus, Ohio

A: “When I’m traveling in a city, I love to use public transportation,” T+L green guru Amy Farley says. “Not only is it often the most effective way to get around but it also lets you live like a local while keeping your carbon footprint light.” While in Hong Kong, take the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) around the city. The system’s website (mtr.com.hk) has a Journey Planner to help you determine your estimated travel time and what transfers you’ll need to make. Be sure to buy an Octopus card—a refillable smart pass available at MTR stations that allows you to make purchases at participating convenience stores, supermarkets, and vending machines.

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