According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable travel has three distinct objectives: to preserve nature, culture and environment; to strengthen social prosperity; and to ensure viable, long-term economic operations.1The destinations below offer sustainable travel opportunities and have taken positive steps and strides in ecotourism. If you’re looking for a green destination, consider any one of the following locations:
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is home to the oldest state park in the United States, Niagara Falls State Park. It’s also one of the seven natural wonders of the world. In 2010 Niagara Falls State Park celebrated its 125th anniversary. To commemorate this, several green modifications were made to the park to make it more eco-friendly. A trolley fleet that runs on compressed natural gas was implemented as well as solar lighting, low energy lighting and the use of river water for the sprinkler systems.2
While Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city, it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. Visit Denali National Park with a tour company that is 100% carbon-neutral, which means your trip won’t damage the environment. The Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association offers a list of eco-friendly activities which emphasize responsible tourism practices for all its members.
There is a plethora of beauty within Costa Rica from black sand beaches to the tropical wildlife that calls the island home. This beauty is worth preserving so it’s no surprise that Costa Rica is known for its abundance of national parks and wildlife refuges. In 2007 Costa Rican government declared that Costa Rica would become the first carbon neutral country by 20213, raising the standard for ecotourism around the world.
Bonaire is a nature lover’s paradise and the island takes ecological conservation seriously. Bonaire began protecting sea turtles in 1961, banned spear-fishing, made it illegal to remove coral, and established the first marine park, all to preserve the natural beauty that abounds around the island.4 Scuba diving has become one of the most popular excursions of the island due to the gorgeous coral and tropical fish abundant in the Caribbean waters, but even this is ecologically sound as diving is done with fixed moorings to prevent coral damage.
British Columbia, Canada
Located on the British Columbia coast between Vancouver Island and Southeast Alaska sits a remote region of temperate rain forest named the Great Bear Rainforest. At 21 million acres it is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth5 and home to rare and exotic species like the white Kermode ‘spirit’ bear. Ecotourists can enjoy a trip to the forest by small boat or kayak tours, which are among the very limited ways the public can gain access to the forest.
While Earth Day is April 22nd, we should think of our impact on the Earth year round. Every little bit helps when it comes to protecting our planet; after all we’ve only got one! Take a look at these green travel ideas for your next trip:
Purchase Carbon Credits
Offset your carbon footprint as a traveler by purchasing carbon credits which you can donate towards reforestation or renewable energy projects. Check out Sustainable Travel International to see how big your travel footprint is.
Airplanes emit a large percentage of their carbon emissions during takeoff and landing. Book a non-stop flight when possible. It’s more ecological and often times more convenient.
Stay in Green Accommodations
There are many hotels out there that are realizing it’s a good idea to go green. Check out sites like Green Hotels Association to find hotels to stay at. Or check the green policies in place at other hotels you’re interested in.
Reduce Your Laundry
Did you know 40% of a hotel’s energy is used for hot water for laundry?6 Use your sheets and towels for more than one day and help reduce their energy use.
The more you carry with you, the more weight is in the airplane, car or vehicle carrying it all, which in turn means more energy to move it.
Instead of exploring the city by using a taxi or other vehicle, take in the sights using one of Earth’s most eco-friendly forms of transportation – the bicycle! Plus it’s often less expensive to rent a bike for the day than taking a cab or renting a car. Check out these cities that offer Bike Share, a city wide bike rental program.
Visit local farmers’ markets or eat at restaurants that only use local food sources. Additionally, purchase souvenirs that are locally sourced (not shipped from elsewhere).
What’s one of the best ways to give back to our Earth while you’re traveling? By volunteering! Whether you volunteer at an organic farm through Worldwide Opportunities at Organic Farms or help to build a school in a rural community, you’ll discover that volunteering is a great way to connect with the community. You’ll leave your green vacation feeling fulfilled and with a sense of purpose.
Where in the world can you find these towering windmills?Answer:
These are the windmills in Schiedam, Netherlands. These windmills are the largest in the world with heights up to 33 meters.7
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