Posts Tagged ‘green travel’

Hawaii Sustainable Tourism Certified Operators

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is important. It is easy to think of ecotourism and being responsible to the land when the land is as breathtakingly gorgeous as the Hawai`ian Islands…now if we can think this way everywhere!

Today, celebrate the 2014-2016 Sustainable Tourism Certified Operators of the Hawai`ian Islands. These businesses choose to go above and beyond normal standards, committing genuine energy and education about conserving the islands’ ecosystems and culture. This list is compiled by Hawaii Ecotourism Association, a non-profit that has, for the past 20 years, held island tourism to a higher standard. They are true industry leaders–if you are traveling to the islands (take me with you!)–please look to and explore these businesses for tours and activities:

Island of Oahu, Heart of Hawaii
– Atlantis Submarines Hawaii (Atlantis Adventures – Oahu, Maui & BI)
– Bike Hawaii
– Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure
– Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks
– Ko Olina Ocean Adventures
– Kualoa Ranch
– Pacific Islands Institute
– Wild Side Specialty Tours

Visit Maui
– Hawaiian Paddle Sports
– Maui Kayak Adventures
– Pacific Whale Foundation
– Trilogy Excursions

Big Island Visitors Bureau
– Big Island Divers
– Fair Wind Cruises
– Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (Hawaiian Legacy Tours)
– VolcanoDiscovery Hawai`i
– KapohoKine Adventures (pending)

Kauai Visitors Bureau
 Island Sails Kaua’i (pending)

Volunteer at the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica

A friend was talking this morning about an upcoming trip to Costa Rica, making me green with envy. The small nation has long been at the forefront of green travel and eco-consciousness (that doesn’t mean the record is perfect–no nation’s is) and they understood environmentalism and sustainability long before most of their neighbors in either of the Americas.

One of the many facets of creating a nation that prioritizes the environment, is education. The Cloud Forest School in Monteverde has been teaching kids for 20 years how to explore the world “from the ground up.” Their mission is to nurture generations of ecologically aware, academically well-rounded, bilingual individuals. The “three Rs” are not given more importance than fostering a genuine and enduring sense of wonder. Ahhhh, if only schools in the US were more skilled at THAT. The mostly young, inspired, and energized staff (about half Costa Rican, half North American—Students, too, are culturally diverse) makes learning an adventure, and hands-on, interactive exploration in the classroom and outdoors is the methodology.

Here’s why you care (in addition to being inspired)…you can volunteer there! Visiting volunteers commit to at least 3 weeks, and “typical volunteer tasks include gardening, working on our campus reforestation projects, trail maintenance, building maintenance, assisting with Environmental Education and Land Stewardship classes, as well as any miscellaneous tasks needed on campus.  Past volunteers have also worked on computer networking, teaching music lessons, leading yoga classes, making brochures, working in our library, or helping out in our development office.” Your transportation to and from the school is provided and you’ll live with a host family, be given 3 meals per day,  and Spanish lessons twice a week. Sweet deal, currently $525 for 3 weeks (super cheap by service travel standards).

Travel for Good///Travelocity and Voluntourism

Sometimes I just make things harder than they need to be. Who among us can’t say THAT, right? I beat the virtual bushes of the Internet trying to find blog subjects that turn me on, and hope they might light a spark among someone else as well…and there is so much that goes on right underneath my nose.

I recently booked a trip through Travelocity to do a volunteer stint in Idaho next week (more on that later). Travelocity is a search engine I use fairly often when booking stuff. Then this morning I grabbed a t-shirt to put on as one of many layers to go out to shovel some more snow…and it was a shirt I’ve had for a few years: Travelocity—Travel for Good. I had forgotten about their green travel and voluntourism programs until the reminder was literally on my chest.

Travelocity has a Travel for Good portal as part of their site ( where you can find eco-friendly vacation options as well as volunteer vacations through their partners (really great partners such as Earthwatch, American Hiking Society, Cross-Cultural Solutions, and Globe Aware). They even go so far as to offer voluntourism grants of $5,000 (two awarded per quarter) to volunteer travelers to make making a difference accessible to more of us.

The green travel section has carbon offset plans, lists of eco-friendly green hotels, and links to find a hybrid rental car.

I feel a little foolish that a resource I already make use of has been quietly doing good, as their motto says: “One Trip at a Time”…but if I’m going to feel foolish, it’s good to also feel good and proud that the choice I made in the travel marketplace is aligned with what is most important to me.

Wild Blue (Green) Yonder

CB009686You already comparison shop for the best airfares, perhaps making decisions based on where you have frequent flyer miles, or who has onboard Internet, or who will still give you a pillow without charging…but another element worth considering when booking air travel is the environmental responsibility of the company. Jet fuel does enormous damage to the world when it burns—you’d be hard pressed to find a more dramatic way consumers directly create a crusty carbon footprint.

Green America is a non-profit organization working to harness consumer power, our power, to mandate and create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Through Green America’s website for concerned consumers, Responsible Shopper, you can find any number of vetted copanies who are rated for their global responsibility. There is now a section for air travel: What company violated drug test requirements for pilots and flew improperly maintained aircraft? What airline passed measures of environmental, human rights, labor, ethics & governance, and health & safety issues with flying colors? (hint for this last one: Southwest and Virgin. Last place: United). Which airlines are actively reducing emissions or received high scores from the Human Rights Campaign?

It makes a difference, and it’s not just travel providers on whom you can check up. Companies are listed and ranked on in the following categories:  agribusiness; airlines; appliances; athletic wear; automobile; banking/financial; beauty and body care; beverage/water; big box retailer; big pharma; booksellers; chemicals; cleaning products; clothing; coffee; computer/electronics; department stores; electric utilities; electronics; fast food; food; gas/oil; home improvement/building; Internet; mass media (TV, radio, film); supermarkets; tires; tobacco; and toys/games.

Look it up before you buy and let your dollars talk.