Low impact travel (also called sustainable travel or eco travel) has to do with taking into account how your travel habits impact the environment or the people with whom you come into contact during your stay.
Since many of our travel practices are harmful to the environment, low impact travel is focused on reducing one’s negative impact on the places to which he or she travels.
Of course, making a positive impact is even better.
Here are some ways to adopt a low impact travel philosophy the next time you plan a trip:
Be smart about air travel. Let’s face it; air travel can be detrimental to the environment. For some of your travel throughout the year, think creatively and choose vacations that don’t require air travel (instead, go by train, bus, or bike). However, cutting out air travel all together is nigh impossible for most curious travelers. If air travel is the only way to reach your destination, choose a carrier that is committed to doing its part for the environment.
Embrace public transportation. Instead of renting a car (not the best option for the environment), research what types of trains, metros or bus systems are available at your destination and plan to use those. Using public transportation is also a great way to learn about the city. Destinations like New York City and London make car travel unnecessary.
Keep an eye out for LEED certified structures. LEED stands for “leadership in energy and environmental design.” The LEED rating system is a rigorous certification process that rewards firms for their use of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. Firms and building owners invest a large amount of time and money making sure their structures represent the very best in terms of sustainability and design (which is good for the environment and the people who live near these buildings). Why not reward these businesses with your patronage when you travel? For more information on LEED certification, see: http://www.usgbc.org/
Flickr: EraPhernalia Vintage
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