Green Corner: Bringing sustainabilty to summer travel plans

As the year comes to an end and warm weather starts to peek around the corner, remember there are many ways Rider students can continue their sustainability efforts throughout the summer months.
According to the U.S. Travel Data Center, 43 million American travelers are “ecologically concerned.” Don’t let vacation plans cause you to overlook the negative impacts that traveling can have on both the environment and local communities.
Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world, according to the U.S. Travel Association, generating $2.1 billion annually along with 14.9 million jobs. Although tourism is an essential source of income for the economy, it is also a major contributor to increasing greenhouse gases.
“Carbon dioxide emissions generated directly from the tourism sector account today for 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but may be higher, up to 14%, if measured as radiative forcing; such warming caused by carbon dioxide, as well as other greenhouse gases,” says the United Nations Environment Programme.
There are many ways one can curb these negative impacts while traveling. The simplest way to start your summer off greener would be to find relaxation time without traveling far from home. As nice as it would be to travel across the world, staying local will reduce carbon emissions as well as save college students money needed for next year’s textbooks. Some of the greatest places to visit during summer months are in your own backyard. New Jersey is home to some of the best parks, beaches, zoos, museums — you name it.
If you can’t control your wanderlust and long distance travel is the only way to go, be sure to offset your carbon emissions. Companies like MyClimate, Climate Care and Terrapass all offer ways to lessen your carbon footprint by allowing you to calculate it and view energy efficeint alternatives.
When searching for a place to stay during your travels, try to choose hotels that incorporate sustainable initiatives into their business. Look for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified hotels. LEED certified buildings are rated on how environmentally friendly the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the building is.
Let’s face it, experiencing scenic views and enjoying a break from school are some great aspects of vacation time, but enjoying delicious food and unique shopping are often the cherry on top of a nice getaway. Don’t get sucked into eating or shopping at bigger-industry businesses. Buying locally can make a huge difference by keeping money in the local economy.
Creating your own sustainable vacation isn’t as hard as you think. Plan your trip using SustainableTrip.org. This website enables you to choose sustainable hotels in beautiful destinations, while benefiting the environment. The hotels, tour operators and other businesses found on this site are either verified by the Rainforest Alliance, certified by third-party programs recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council or recommended by reputable organizations.
As college students, we are all ready to set off on some fun adventures this summer. Whether you are flying across oceans to study abroad, heading to Florida for some time on the beach, or opting to enjoy the local Jersey Shore, you can make a difference by choosing ecotourism. The Office of Sustainability hopes you have a safe and green summer.

-Katelyn White
Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

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