Friday, January 23, 2009

Green Travel Resolutions

Ecocondundrums have prolonged my deliberations about my 2009 travel resolutions. For example, when I consider the report from Mother Jones on where carbon comes from and how to cut it, I concluded that after switching to solar and sharing a car--not many other efforts have an impact (less than 1 percent). Most carbon comes from coal burned for electric power and cars. If I've cut back my use of both, it seems the best I can do is help others do the same.

Or does it? Reexamining my travel resolutions for 2008 gave me some ideas for research and experimenting in 2009.

No More Offsets? I used to encourage guests to offset their flights to Sedona or Florida for their vacations. And in 2008, I resolved to buy offsets for all my flights (the only carbon left in my footprint). But this year, I've come to see offsets as a surcharge that is not my responsibility. Why should the consumer offset companies' garbage and let them cash in our conscience?

Christopher Elliot explained it this way in Newsweek, "Think about it: Would you be willing to voluntarily pay an extra $30 to your pharmaceutical company to clean up one of its toxic dumps? If anything, you would think twice before buying another one of that company's products. Which is exactly what travelers ought to do when faced with an offset option: run to the competition."

In a post-carbon world, we'll have to figure out new ways to get around on our travels. Instead of spending on offsets, this year I'm going to spend on efforts to reinvent transportation. I'll keep you "posted" on how my thinking evolves as I try it out.

Terrepass sees carbon offsetting as a path to the solutions, but I'm not yet convinced. Click here to read more about their position.

No More Luxury. I used to write about eco and luxury in the same sentence because consumers associated eco-friendly with backpacks and roughing it. But since then, green has gone mainstream and hippie is hip. People realize they can be green without comprimising their lifestyle. Being responsible is expected, not an extra.

With the word "luxury" becoming synonymous with the word "greed," I want to be clear my homes do not reflect excess or a lavish lifestyle. They're about comfort. And who'd be comfortable breathing VOCs and wasting electricity?

No More Recycling. Its a design problem, not a recycling problem. Recycling is too expensive. We need to use products that don't need recycling. Instead of promoting recycling programs, we're providing bags and bottles so guests can experiment with giving up plastic bags and water bottles altogether.

Focus on the Process Not the Product. Yes, essential oils are labeled "natural." But how is the aromatherapy made? Most essential oils are extracted using a chemical, the residue can trigger allergies and asthma. When I travel, I'm going to pay more attention to how people do business and less attention to the "labels." I'll look for More Wise, Enlightened Deals, avoiding the big, super, and mega. and rewarding the small, the slow, the local, the personal. As Kalle Lasn, Editor-in-Chief of Adbusters puts it, "Drive the evolution of capitalism, transforming it into a healthier, more just, more grassroots affair."

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

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