Going “green” in your travels can save you green in your wallets

Tips for traveling in a sustainable manner this summer.

Today’s traveler, whether venturing through Port Austin, Michigan’s farmers market for fresh produce their first time or backpacking through Vietnam, tends to be more conscientious of their environment and community than, say, 20 years ago. That’s right! The tourist with a mindset and appetite for “sustainability” is shaping the industry from the local to the global level. While any type of industry trend can be diluted from excessive use (or inaccurate use) of vocabulary, travelers that want to be “green” or “sustainable” can do so completely on their own for their own personal benefit. While there is no “poster board” example of the sustainable tourist, every little bit does count. Tourists can take a number of steps in their weekend excursions, family trips, and daily lives for that matter to be considered “green” or “sustainable.

Some simple steps:

  1. Carry your own water bottle instead of purchasing bottled beverages. This reduces the amount of plastic or glass bottles that ultimately end up floundering around in communities, in land-fills, and along shorelines and roads. By carrying your own water bottle you can eliminate a large volume of waste, and save money!
  2. If possible, choose to walk, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation instead of driving. Not only does this essentially reduce air pollution and traffic, it also encourages the enjoyment of the outside environment and interaction within the communities you are visiting. Overall, you are spending less on gasoline and, therefore, saving money!
  3. When shopping, purchasing local products, such as food, and bring your own bags or, better yet, try going without a bag. Purchasing locally strengthens communities by keeping the money in the hands of local businesses and communities. Bringing your own bags helps reduce the use of plastic bags and other waste within communities. After all, grocery stores are beginning to follow suit and charge customers for each plastic bag they need. By bringing your own you are supporting local economies, keeping communities clean, and… saving money!
  4. When visiting communities around Michigan, the United States, or perhaps abroad try to staying in hotels/motels that are locally owned and managed. This supports step #3 by keeping dollars in the local communities and helps sustain the very people catering to tourists. By doing this you are essentially… saving them money!

Of course these are not all of the steps to help a tourist go “green” and support “sustainability” initiatives. Steps such as these may seem challenging and perhaps impossible at first, after getting into the rhythm it can become habit-forming. Ultimately, actions such as these are needed to keep our communities and environment clean, green, and strong.

Have an enjoyable and “sustainable” summer. And do keep in mind that Michigan State University Extension offers programs and expertise in areas of sustainability, tourism, community development, and business development. 

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