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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is looming right behind it. According to the American Automobile Association, 93 million people traveled during the last six weeks of the year in 2012. That’s a lot of fuel and coffee being consumed.
Here are six things you can do to reduce your environmental impact as you make your way towards family and friends this holiday season.
1. Unplug appliances and save on your energy bill. Appliances, such as TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters and microwaves, still draw “vampire energy” even when they are not in use. Put a stake through the heart of this wasteful creature by unplugging everything you can before you leave. (Just not the refrigerator!)
2. Fly smarter. Always book etickets, as paper tickets are wasteful and on their way to becoming obsolete. And even though it costs a little more, always try to fly direct. You will get to your destination faster and avoid extra take-offs and landings, which are the times when jets are at their maximum fuel consumption.
3. Reduce packaging waste. Travel-size toiletries might seem quick and convenient, but all that extra packaging takes a heavy toll on the environment. Why not fill some reusable or recycled containers with the soaps, lotions and potions you need instead of loading up on mini-versions?
4. Stay in green hotels. If your trip necessitates an overnight stop at a hotel, try to choose one that has been certified by green industry associations like Green Seal or Green Leaf. These hotels “do their part” by reducing their energy consumption by using fluorescent lighting, instituting recycling programs, using Energy Star-certified televisions and computers, asking patrons to reuse towels and by purchasing local organic foods for their restaurants. Here’s a list for your convenience.
5. Drive sustainably. Before driving, check your tire pressure, remove unnecessary objects from your car like your golf clubs (unless your family lives in Florida or Palm Springs) before departing and try to drive at or below the posted speed limit throughout. Careful driving habits and proper vehicle maintenance can reduce fuel consumption by 15 to 20 percent.
6. Don’t travel at all. Our biggest tip for green travel: stay at home. Cutting out travel altogether means less harmful emissions and, more importantly, additional time to relax and enjoy the family. Plan some indoor activities or arts/crafts projects with the kids or go for a nature walk.
All of us have things to be thankful for this holiday season – try to give the earth something to be thankful for was well!
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