Green travel, ultimately, is moral travel. Every person on Earth has a vested interest in the continued safety and stability of the environment. But as travelers (and world leaders) grapple with questions of what can and must be done to protect the climate, many individuals have identified a few proactive steps to take in the meantime.
The philosophy behind ecotourism is all about responsibility. The International Ecotourism Society defines the practice as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Explore Kenya alongside a local Maasai community, walk through Borneo’s diverse but threatened rainforest, tour Norway’s Arctic regions with a pair of huskies, ride a horse across Mongolia’s steppe.
The single most costly carbon decision any person can make is to buy a plane ticket. On average, a plane emits a pound of carbon dioxide per passenger aboard per mile flown. Green travel emphatically does not mean no travel, but it should include drastic reductions, if not total elimination, of air travel. Compromises can be found by looking into nonprofit programs that plant trees around the world to offset carbon emissions, as well as opting to travel by boat, train, or car when possible. Smaller decisions like booking rooms in LEED-certified hotels help conserve energy. Habits like reusing a hotel towel do the same.
Travel companies often move with travelers: what the public chooses to consume will be offered in greater (or in this case, more sustainable) supply. Whether you are looking for greener methods of travel, or vacations that celebrate and help protect the planet’s many ecosystems, Travel + Leisure is here to help guide the way.