Taking a family vacation often means taking a break from a lot of your typical house rules. Perhaps the kids stay up late, get dessert with lunch or ignore the at-home bed-making mandate. That’s part of the fun in going on a trip. But one rule I wish we’d all stay more strict on as families is going green and staying that way.
Whether it’s lunch at a fast-food joint or snacks at a resort, garbage is still garbage no matter the location. It irks me to see tourists or vacationers littering.
Rick and I watched a family of four on the streets of Vancouver enjoy an afternoon stroll with bags of chips in hand. Minutes later the school-aged daughter tossed her empty bag onto the street. Our jaws hit the floor. People still do that? Should we tell the parents what she just did in case they missed it? Does the whole family litter like that? Ugh!
Cities thrive on tourism and welcome millions of people onto their land/streets/water each year. It’s easy and quick to ensure each and every one of us works hard to thank them….and thank the planet.
(1) Respect the new surroundings as though they’re your own community.
When traveling, if you picture the street your walking on as the one in front of your own home, you’re less likely to toss the trash on the ground. If you wouldn’t do it on your own lawn, don’t do it elsewhere.
(2) Take a minute to locate the right bins.
Most cities today have proper garbage and recycling cans somewhere in proximity to one another if not beside each other. It only takes a second to locate the correct one and use it. Sure, it might be easier to just dump the contents of the tray into the trash can, but if companies and facilities offer sorted containers, do your part and use them.
If companies and facilities do their part to offer sorted containers,
do your part and use them
(3) Go back to grade school — it’s as simple as reduce, reuse and recycle.
It’s easier to forget about our ‘footprint’ when we’re not fastening garbage bags in our own garage. For some reason, vacationers feel like their trash is now someone else’s issue. They’ll often use countless water bottles (when they normally wouldn’t) and throw things out without considering ways to reuse them. Try to remember the grade school rules – reduce your carbon footprint even while traveling, reuse as many items as you can and recycle at every opportunity. Even if it means carrying a plastic water bottle an extra block to find the blue bin, make the effort.
Your conscience doesn’t take a trip just because you do.
(4) Resorts are finding ways to make it fun so lap it up.
When my family went to Great Wolf Lodge, we were pleased to see such a large, popular spot doing so many things to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s more economical for them in some ways, better for the environment and fun for the kids. For example, the shower has a body wash/shampoo dispenser in it (instead of offering all guests their own bottles and soap bars that often get left behind half used). Their garbage cans are candid and entertaining with little animals perched on the rim stealing snacks from inside. It’s all intended to encourage people to put things in the right spot. However, Great Wolf Lodge Managing Director, Keith Simmonds, pointed out that tons of families still just take the easy route and put their trash wherever is most convenient. They’re doing all they can to encourage people to use the right bins (with some projects in the works). If they’re going to work so hard at it, as tourists we should do our part too.
Travel, enjoy it and respect our planet. It only takes a second and ultimately going green impacts us all long term.