Vacation Carbon Footprint

When you’re deciding where to go on your vacation, chances are that you choose a destination partly due to the beautiful environment. Tourism is dependent on intact ecosystems. Tropical beaches, vibrant coral reefs, beautiful vistas and other natural elements are key motivators for vacation choices. What would happen if something negatively impacted your favorite location? What if there were things you could do to keep our precious environments pristine?

Our activities can contribute to our carbon footprint and have an impact on the environment. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases we have, or are expected to produce through our activities. It is measured in pounds or tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). We can effectively lower our personal carbon footprint by voluntarily helping to preserve these areas by becoming more aware and by making small adjustments to the way we travel and how we act on vacation.

Here is a list of simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Reduce Travel Emissions: Use public transportation, and if you need to rent a vehicle, choose a hybrid car. For shorter distances you could rent a bicycle or simply walk; you will be surprised at how much more you will notice along your route.

2. Buy Local: A good way you get to know the local culture, enjoy new experiences and even save money is to buy and use local products and frequent local establishments. It’s often a rewarding choice, not only in terms of financial and carbon savings, but because of the unforgettable experiences you gain. If it's locally grown, it didn't have to travel that far, whereas imported products are a huge contributor to global carbon emissions.

3. Pay Attention to Packaging: Purchase products with minimal packaging and take reusable bags for carrying your goods. For example, you may chose to buy the loose mangos, rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped ones.

4. Ditch Bottled Water: Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint. Rely on a reusable water bottle and when you visit restaurants and bars, ask for their own filtered water rather than bottled water.

5. Reduce Your Water Consumption: In many tropical countries, water is as precious as gold, and its supply is limited. You can make a huge difference by taking shorter showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.

6. Engage in Low-impact Recreation: While enjoying the outdoors, consider walking and biking instead of renting a scooter. Enjoy the water by sailing, kayaking, snorkeling or surfing instead of speed boating or jet-skiing. These small changes can greatly reduce your emissions.

7. Conserve Electricity: Unplug appliances that you don't use frequently. Turn down your air-conditioning (if using), and be sure to turn off the lights when leaving a room.

8. Leave It Better than You Found It: Pick up trash as you go, volunteer for a beach cleanup day or make a donation to a local environmental organization. Support local efforts to improve the environment and leave your vacation feeling good about your experience.

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