Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ecotourism Blog!
Welcome to the Greenloons Blog, your go-to ecotourism / sustainable / responsible (or whatever term you feel comfortable with) travel resource. Here, you will find eco travel destination profiles, environmentally friendly travel tips, ecotourism certification information, eco trip reviews and much more! Read, share and let us know your thoughts about ecotourism!
Blog posts tagged in Green Living
What are the first thoughts or images that come to mind when you think of Greece? Is it its beautiful clear waters and beaches? Strikingly blue skies? Its whitewashed buildings? Music and dance? Its history? Contributions to philosophy and our political process? Its delicious and healthy food?
Perhaps, is it all of these combined images that make Greece one of the most iconic “bucket list” travel destinations in the world.
As Greenloons’ Founder, I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries (and even live in a few) around the world and, in my humble opinion, there is no comparison within the six continents I’ve visited, to Greece.
Last year, I had the opportunity to meet game changer Florie Thielin of the Hopineo initiative, which endeavors to use the principles of the sharing economy to promote sustainable tourism. In exchange for sharing best practices and providing specific recommendations for how responsible hotels and tourism boards can enhance their efforts, Hopineo provides access to experienced sustainability and marketing experts who only ask that their room and board accommodations be waived.
The founders of Hopineo, Justine and Mahery, have just embarked on a tour of West Africa. While they were in Sine Saloum, Senegal, I had a chance to ask them some questions about their new project, which is also running a crowdfunding campaign through the end of February.
While I know my son was having a wonderful time at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I was still so glad to be able to have this extended road trip with my daughter.
During part one of this two-part series, I talked about our adventures from Georgia up to New Hampshire. Now, at the half way point of the trip, appropriately spent riding a zip line over the Pemigewassett River and then taking a gondola up the White Mountains to explore some granite caves, we now had to continue back home.
After my son's visitation day, my daughter and I explored D Acres a bit more. We took a dip in the swimming hole, rode our bikes to some surrounding farms to visit some goats and a friendly horse, and hung out in the open-air "Summer Kitchen".
As my son was packing up for another season at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I realized I had to do something to make these weeks special for my daughter too. So what better than a grand road trip!
My daughter and I love animals and have been especially interested in raising chickens after our town passed legislation allowing them to be kept locally. My daughter even began lobbying school administrators to create a kind of 4-H club for some students to raise a few hatched chicks.
So, creating a trip to visit chickens along our route seemed like a natural theme for our adventure!
I was born with the travel bug. As often as I could, I was off visiting and re-visiting places near and far, soaking in sea air, language, and culture. But as my eco-conscience grew, I realized that my growing collection of seashells and jet-fuelled flights might be satisfying my wanderlust at the expense of the environment. Because my wanderlust was simply impossible to ignore, I turned my attention to sustainable tourism.
No matter the name, the intent is the same: travel with the lightest environmental and socio-cultural footprint possible to maintain or improve conditions in all communities around the world and ensure their health for years to come. A lofty goal, but with a change in perspective and a little bit of effort, travel can be not only guilt-free, but rewarding in unexpected ways.
We can all play a part in improving our environment, whether we become more aware of recycling to educating our children about the importance of being environmentally conscious. Governments and city councils too have a responsibility and in this infographic, we can see that some cities have been more serious about energy efficiency than others.
For example, in Copenhagen, you can see for yourself just how much they have embraced environmental responsibility whereby over one-third of residents use their bicyles regularly. In addition, there are manysafe cycle paths that allow you to see the city plus get some fresh air. More closer to home, consider a visit to San Francisco where they encourage the use of electric cars, thereby helping to reduce smog.
Check out these other green city destination options for some additional inspiration.
One of the easiest ways to support sustainable travel is to select a car-free island for your next family vacation.
Car-free islands, generally, have a healthier population due to less air pollution and a less sedentary population, improved conditions for culture and leisure facilities, more space set aside for gardens and parks, more energy-efficient and water-efficient buildings (due to necessity), higher real estate values, and lower rates of crime, among other benefits.
To provide some additional eco-inspiration, while I've written about our travel experiences in Hydra, Greece and more recently Mackinac Island, Michigan, here is a list of other U.S States and countries who have designated entire islands as car-free.
"We didn't even know this was possible!" the retired couple from England explained. They were vacationing in South Africa and due to a family issue had to quickly catch a flight from Cape Town back home. So, they checked into Hotel Verde for the night and found themselves as pleasantly surprised and intrigued by the hotel's green features and grounds as I was.
We were lucky enough to be given a personalized tour by Sarah, one of the most passionate and informed hotel marketing executives I've met in the sustainable travel industry. While the 4-star Hotel Verde (owned by Bon Hotels) is primarily geared for the business traveler (with its complementary shuttles to the airport and the city center as well as ample conference room space), leisure travelers will find this hotel to be a treat as well.
Over the years, I've come to realize that one factor that makes a family vacation a fantastic vacation is picking out the right accommodations.
For us, that means renting a locally-owned home, wherever possible, as it is more environmentally conscious and more fun. We've rented apartments and villas in many countries including the United States, Italy, Canada, and Spain, and during this past summer, we rented a villa in Cyprus.
I had just landed in Dublin, after an overnight flight from Washington DC, on a sunny morning a few weeks ago and found myself once again caught in those beautiful in-between hours when the adrenaline for starting another sustainable journey kicks in and the complete exhaustion that I knew was going to set in during the late afternoon.
Well, I certainly made the best of those beautiful hours thanks to the help of Carina Mount Charles at Rock Farm Slane!
With almost 10,000 miles of coastline and 6,000 islands to swim, snorkel and sunbathe the days away, you may find it hard to narrow down your vacation options when traveling to Greece. In my opinion, Athens is a must for the first-time visitor to Greece.
Seeing the Acropolis, having a fresh fish meal beside the sea, visiting the Panathenaic Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games), learning about local turtle rescue center's conservation efforts, listening (and dancing) to bouzouki music, bargaining with the Plaka shopowners - it's all part of the fun of Athenian life!
But, when the crowded city gets a bit too stifling and you want to take a break that's not far and car free, the island of Hydra is a great green getaway choice for the entire family.
One of the bona fide signs of spring in the Washington DC area is the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Commemorating this lovely gift from Japan, there are art shows, concerts, tea and sake tastings, bike tours, cruises, food tours and photo safaris – and along with that, there's traffic! Lots and lots of traffic! For proactive green travelers heading to the festival, here's how you can lower your impact.
It's enough to make my head spin with anticipation! Today, more than half the world's population lives in cities and they are projected to add 274,000 people every day for the next 30 years.
According to organizations like the Earth Day Network (which is making Green Cities its Earth Day theme for 2014) and World Resources Institute (labeling Green Cities as one of the stories to watch for 2014), the real opportunity may be for cities to improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable energy, and implement green building practices. In effect, large urban populations could serve as the perfect proving ground for technologies that dramatically increase air and water quality as well as expand green schools, public transport options, farmer's markets, and green spaces – perhaps even increasing the development of green vacation packages.
Last year, our family traveled to Namibia with 600 other intrepid travelers for the annual Adventure Travel World Summit. Given Namibia's recent nod by the New York Times, as number 6 of the 52 Places to Go in 2014, we were not disappointed at all when witnessing amazing wildlife in the Kalahari Desert, staying in phenomenal lodges in Namib Desert, and learning about communal conservancies. By the same token though, we could not understand why, at every turn, tiny 8 ounce water bottles were distributed (and wasted), rather than the option to refill our reusable water containers with fresh water.
As our bus driver expertly weaved around the bends and curves of the Tuscan countryside in Italy, I found myself totally transfixed by the rolling hills that surrounded us. Looking out, I felt that the scenery was almost too beautiful, that if I blinked I would suddenly wake up back in my bed in New Jersey. But there I was, in the heart of Tuscany, backpack at the ready and best friend at my side. Our decade dream of backpacking through Europe during our college years was coming true, and we were finally at the Italian portion of our journey.
This month, there's a flurry of green living festivals in Washington DC that highlight options for energy efficiency, renewable energy, zero-waste and gardening as well as local bike tours and sustainable travel. With lots of exhibitors, panel discussions and fun for the kids, these festivals make green living downright stylish!
So many of us are on the hunt for bargains - whether they be food, furnishings or travel bargains. For the extra money saved, some of us will drive an extra 30 minutes to get to the store, overlook the lack of quality, and in the case of sustainable travel even miss what makes a region unique. However, did you know that if every family in the United States spent an extra $10 a month at a locally-owned, independent store (or B&B accommodation) rather than a national chain, it would put back over $9.3 Billion to the economy?
When I first read this infographic on water usage from Loch Ness Water Gardens, I was amazed at how many gallons of water it took to produce one glass of orange juice (45 gallons) or just one egg (53 gallons). It got me thinking that from a sustainable travel point of view, as healthy and fresh water becomes more scarce in many parts of the world, it would be relatively easy for me to forgo certain foods while traveling. What do you think? What would you try giving up during your travels?
If you are looking for a unique gift idea this season that extols the concepts of sustainability and pay-it-forward sentiments, we have some great suggestions for you. These gifts are quick and easy to organize, meaningful and will be well-received by anyone on your list.
Think you can’t afford to live a much more sustainable lifestyle? That's a popular misconception - as the demand of environmentally-friendly products has grown over the years, consumers have been conditioned to believe that green goods or eco products equate to more expensive merchandise. While this is not the case with most eco-vacations, as we pointed out last year in this Blog, this infographic alerts consumers to the fact that a lot of “green” choices cost little or nothing…and when you add them all together, you may actually be saving money.
It’s actually a really cool concept! A bike that is equipped with a re-chargeable battery connected to a small and silent bike motor that helps you to traverse the rolling hills and, sometimes, steep terrain of Switzerland.
Some of my formative summer seasons were spent in Rhode Island and since Block Island and Newport were within close driving (or ferry) distance, it never occurred to our family to visit Kennebunkport too. Well, during all those summers, we were definitely missing out!
By now, you are probably experiencing the lazy days of August in the run up to September, where school starts, fall sports and cooler weather change the dynamic of weekend getaways. However, if you’ve got one more weekend getaway left in you and want to do something really different – check out these great festivals in the United States and around the world.
If you are looking for some eco travel inspiration, start by visiting the towns across the United States that host some of the greenest college campuses. Compiled by Online Colleges Guide, this infographic depicts how many colleges are leading the charge in building LEED certified buildings, growing their own crops in organic farms and gardens, and offering degrees in sustainability.
Our family visit to Poland earlier this month came about because we had the opportunity to attend the opening game of Euro 2012 (Poland versus Greece) in Warsaw. While it was a thrilling match (not just because I’m Greek and my husband is Polish) in a pretty city, I found Warsaw to be too austere for my taste and was happy to get on train south to Krakow for a different view of Polish life.
From the moment we stepped off the train in Krakow and within minutes, found ourselves walking down pedestrian-only Floriańska to the main market square (Rynek Główny), our family felt that we had just arrived in a very special place that not only had a long history - one look at the architecture alone tells this - but proud and deep cultural roots that were not going to succumb to commercialism anytime soon. That notion made my little ecotourism heart so happy!