Whether or not you believe in global warming, I think you’ll agree that we should be taking better care of our planet. We should be doing a better job managing our natural resources, looking for renewable resources, and minimizing the negative impact we have on the environment. This holds true whether you’re at home or abroad.
As you know, I recently spent almost two weeks in Taiwan for Computex Taipei and I’m currently in Los Angeles for E3 Expo. I’m spending an awful lot of time in hotel rooms, and while I haven’t completely followed my own advice, I am making some effort to “stay green” while on the road. Here are a few tips for you to do the same.
1. Skip the Rental Car, Take Public Transit
Since I work from home, I don’t drive much even when I’m in Vancouver. When I do need to get around town for these trade shows (as well as during vacations), I tend to avoid renting a car too. I take a taxi when it’s necessary, but if time permits, I usually take public transit.
The subway system in Taipei was very easy to understand, despite my lack of Chinese comprehension, and the Metro system in Los Angeles is equally useful for getting around town. You’re less likely to get lost on the bus than you are if you drive yourself and, better still, your hands are now freed to take pictures and relax.
2. Turn Off the Lights, Heat, and Air Conditioning
Instead, do what you can to minimize this impact on your own. Turn off all the lights in your room when you head out for the day. Take a look around and turn off the heat or air conditioning too, as well as anything else that draws unnecessary power. If you bring your laptop, unplug it from the wall to eliminate “vampire” power consumption too.
3. Reuse Your Towels and Bed Linens
Do you change your bed sheets every day when you’re at home? Probably not. The default for many hotels is to give you a fresh set of bath towels and bed linens each day, but this is largely unnecessary. Most hotels will have some sort of policy where you can tell them not to do this.
Oftentimes, leaving the towel on the rack means you want to keep it. You save the housekeeper some work and the towels (and linens) don’t have to go through the laundry unnecessarily. If everyone did this, there could be a significant impact both in terms of water use and power use.
4. Bring a Reusable Travel Mug
The hotel will likely provide you with a series of disposable cups. While out on the road, you may be inclined to buy single bottles of water and single cups of coffee. It may not be completely realistic to use it in every instance, but you can try bringing a reusable mug for some of these purposes.
I’m not sure how this will fly with airport security, since they do not allow liquid containers larger than a certain volume, so it may be best to pack your reusable travel mug in your checked luggage. By using a reusable mug, you reduce trash and, depending on the establishment, you might save a couple cents too.
5. Recycle as You Would at Home
Don’t automatically throw everything in the garbage! Look around to see what recycling options you have for cans and bottles that you do consume, as well as any pamphlets or brochures that you acquire along the way. For the latter, you can even try to download information to your smartphone instead of taking the paper versions, further reducing your impact. It’s better to reduce than to recycle.
6. Pack Your Own Toiletries in Refillable Containers
Most hotels will provide you with those tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and so forth. These “trial” sizes aren’t very environmentally friendly, because most of them end up in the garbage. Instead, buy some small reusable containers from the dollar store (or wherever) and bring your own toiletries. These containers can be reused on future trips.
Karma May Smile on You Too
You might look at some of these tips, thinking to yourself that it takes hotels off the hook. You effectively paid for fresh towels and extra toiletries each day, so why should you let the hotel slide on these free amenities? You should get a discount, right?
That may or may not be true, but if we all participate in similar “green” practices when traveling, hotels may catch on and start to reduce some of their rates accordingly. This might be wishful thinking, but even if they don’t reduce their rates, you can feel better that you’re doing what you can to reduce your impact on the environment. And that’s rewarding enough, right?