A guide to zero-waste holiday travel

November 19, 2019 by  
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It’s the year that the Swedish concept of flygskam, or flying shame, hit headlines around the world. Now, it’s November and time for holiday travel. Unfortunately, you might feel like you’re choosing between hurting the environment and hurting Grandma’s feelings. If you find yourself traveling this time of year, here are some zero-waste tips to take the edge off your travel shame. Planning for zero-waste travel A green trip starts with good planning. If you’re traveling by plane and/or staying in hotels, check out their sustainability policies. Airplanes use a staggering amount of plastic, which they mostly don’t recycle, but some carriers are striving to improve. Air France pledged to switch out 210 million single-use plastic items with sustainable alternatives by the end of this year. Qantas is ditching single-use plastic by the end of 2020. Alaska Airlines traded plastic stirrers for ones made of bamboo or white birch. Related: Designers aim to reduce the waste and impact of airlines Consider buying carbon offsets. Because flights were responsible for 2.4 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, carbon offset programs aim to balance human destructiveness by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as planting trees or improving forest management. Several airlines offer this option. Most hotels post info about their sustainability efforts on their websites. You can also opt to stay in an Airbnb or similar, where you’ll be able to cook your own food and eat on reusable plates. Learn more about sustainable hotel resources at Green Key , Green Traveler Guides or Kind Traveler. Don’t forget to prepare your house for travel. Eat, freeze or give away perishables. Unplug lamps and other small appliances. If it’s plugged in, it’s sucking energy . Turn the thermostat down — but not so low that the pipes will burst if you live somewhere cold. Packing for zero-waste travel In a world of disposability and access to cheap stuff, it’s easy to throw something away when it is only slightly damaged. I was going through security in Canada when the agent wanted to look in my backpack. The zipper stuck because of loose threads around a rip. I said, “Oh, I have to get a new one … or maybe sew it.” I truthfully had no intentions to do so. She looked at the tear and said, “It’s a good backpack. You should fix it.” Of course I should! I’ve sewn that tear a couple of times now (I’m obviously not that good at sewing), and the backpack is still traveling with me. Aim to repair, not discard. Most travel experts advise packing lightly, both for ease of travel and to keep weight down on airplanes. I’m more of a medium packer, because I know from experience that if I travel too light, I’ll buy more stuff while traveling. Capsule wardrobes have garnered a lot of press lately as a light packing strategy. This is a set of clothes like tops, pants, skirts and sweaters that can be endlessly mixed and matched together, often in a neutral palette like tan, gray, black and white. If you go neutral, consider including some bright scarves or big necklaces to rev up your look. Related: The sustainable wardrobe — it’s more accessible than you think Pack reusable versions of things that get trashed the most while traveling. Freelance travel writer and animal advocate Lavanya Sunkara said, “I always bring my S’well water bottle, so I never have to purchase a plastic water bottle, plus it keeps the water cold for a long time. I just decided to bring my own coffee mug as well as some non-disposable forks/spoons for the road. I also bring my own soap, shampoo and conditioner in reusable bottles.” For even lighter packing, consider shampoo bars. Don’t forget to pack a reusable bag for grocery shopping or souvenirs, too. Greener transportation Some countries have great train service. In most regions of the U.S., trains are infrequent and cost-prohibitive. However, if you have the time, live in a busy train corridor or are traveling a short enough distance overland, look into trains and buses. People in the Northeast have more trains to choose from. New bus services like Flix Bus, Bolt and Megabus are trying to make bus travel more pleasant; even Greyhound has on-board Wi-Fi now. Consider whether you’ll need a car at your destination. If you’re going to a city with decent public transportation , a bike share program, walkable areas and/or plenty of cabs and ride-share services, maybe you can forego a rental car. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly If you find yourself soaring through the skies in an airplane, avoid the so-called “service items” — i.e., trash. You brought your own water bottle , right? Well, fill it up at the airport (after you’ve made it through security) so you won’t have to waste cups on the plane. Bring your own snacks and say no to straws, napkins and ice. Minimizing waste at your destination Think how you can be most environmentally conscious at your destination. If you’re snorkeling in the tropics, use reef-safe sunscreen . If you’re strolling the streets of Paris, sit at a sidewalk cafe and drink out of a real cup, rather than getting a disposable cup to go. Travelers doing their own cooking in an Airbnb kitchen can shop for ingredients at farmers markets or in the bulk sections of grocery stores to minimize packaging waste. One of my biggest sources of eco-shame has been using plastic bottles while visiting countries where waterborne diseases are prevalent. But Terry Gardner , an inspiring sustainability warrior who writes for the LA Times and other publications, has convinced me to try a SteriPen next time. “I’ve used a SteriPen in China , Mexico and twice in Peru,” she told me. “I’ve also used it to purify water from lakes in the U.S. I like the USB one that is rechargeable. In China, where we were encouraged to drink bottled water from single-use plastic, I refused and used my SteriPen. I felt good about avoiding the plastic and remained healthy. In Peru, the SteriPen worked great in Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, but I couldn’t use it in some places in the Amazon where the water was polluted by hazardous waste (I think it was uranium or some mining byproduct).” In keeping with the zero-waste ideal, Gardner advises, “One of my most important sustainable travel tips is focused on trying to treat every place like a national park — do your best to Leave No Trace.” Depending on your destination and the length of time you’re staying, considering volunteering in some capacity. Maybe instead of trashing a place, we can learn to leave it just a little bit better. Images via Shutterstock and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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A guide to zero-waste holiday travel

Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

February 19, 2019 by  
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From conception, the goal of the Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam has been to encapsulate sustainable practices at every turn. They also carry a heavy burden of social responsibility by focusing on providing local jobs and sourcing materials from the surrounding areas whenever possible. Nestled into a mountainous region in North Vietnam, they aim to assist the five local hill-tribes that remain largely untouched by the modern world. The vast majority of the 100 employees live in surrounding villages or are housed on campus with the supplies to grow and cook their own food . Investing in their employees, Topas offers educational and occupational training, opportunities for advancement and full medical benefits. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture As stewards of the land, Topas Ecolodge also incorporates practices that help the local community as well as the environment . For example, food scraps are sent to local farms for pig feed and aluminum cans are reused by women in a local village. Thinking locally, the food served at Topas is sourced from local farmers, alongside property-raised chickens and a vegetable and herb garden behind the restaurant. Providing adequate energy in a sustainable way has been a challenge for the remote resort. Originally attempting solar energy, they found that inconsistent supply was not accommodating their needs so they switched to hydroelectricity and request that guests conserve wherever possible. Overcoming the struggles of sustainability in a remote mountain resort, Topas has implemented some innovative processes. As a solution for glass recycling , they invested in a glass-crushing machine that breaks it into sand that they then recycle into concrete for construction and maintenance. With no reliable recycling options and an understanding of the problems associated with single use plastic , they have a near zero single-use plastic policy and work to educate staff and guests about the reasons behind it. Inasmuch, they’ve become a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and help promote their “Planet or Plastic?” campaign. For water filtration, the property has a man-made wetland that treats wastewater from kitchen and bath facilities before releasing it into the rice fields. The Topas Ecolodge first opened in 2005 and offers 33 chalet-style stone bungalows built using local white granite from the Hoang Lien Mountains. They’ve since opened a second, more rustic accommodation named Topas Riverside Lodge, a short distance away. + Topas Ecolodge Images via Topas Ecolodge

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Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

February 7, 2019 by  
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Environmentalists are concerned by the number of students using transportation services like Lyft and Uber to get to classes. Students at UCLA specifically use these alternative means of transportation around 11,000 times per week, and that is troublesome for a city that is already dealing with significant smog issues. “The  pollutants  coming out of the tailpipe heavily contribute to Los Angeles’ smog problem,” Yifang Zhu, a professor at UCLA, explained. Transportation staff at the university said that the majority of these trips are short in duration. Students who oversleep are also more likely to use Lyft or Uber, because they need to get to class in a hurry without being tardy. School officials believe this increase in traffic plays a part in the growing smog problem in Los Angeles. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Part of the issue with these services is that the vehicles are idling for a significant portion of time before picking up passengers. In fact, the idling can sometimes contribute more smog that actually driving to the destination, which is troublesome for a densely populated city like  Los Angeles . According to The Washington Post , younger generations are more apt to use services like Lyft or Uber , because they have an aversion to owning their own vehicles. These services can be more affordable than purchasing a car, especially on a student’s budget. While economics is clearly a factor to consider, previous research shows that millennials are the driving force behind these ride-hailing apps. For example, a 2016 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that around 25 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 years old had used services like Lyft or Uber. Adults over the age of 65, meanwhile, barely register at only 4 percent. Although it may be more environmentally friendly to not own a car or truck, using alternative transportation services can be just as damaging. The transportation staff at UCLA gathered the information by combing through data from Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely used services on campus. Via The Washington Post Image via Josh Saldana

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Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

INFOGRAPHIC: Tips for making sure your next trip is a green one

August 28, 2015 by  
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When the travel bug hits, it’s important to make sure that you are exploring the world with the lightest environmental and socio-cultural footprint possible to maintain or improve conditions in any community you come across. For instance, which method of travel is ideal for getting to your destination, and how do you pack in order to make the least impact? Whether your headed for a year across the world or a hike in your own backyard, this infographic from marine biologist Andrea Moore will give you all the details you need on making your trip as green as possible for you, your host and the environment. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Tips for making sure your next trip is a green one

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Futuristic body gravity board lets you glide effortlessly to your destination

July 13, 2015 by  
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Meet RevoBot , an innovative body gravity board made of carbon fiber that lets you glide effortlessly. Using a gyroscope to self-balance, the lightweight RevoBot is easy steer and accelerate with your feet and can reach speeds of 7 miles per hour. Built-in Bluetooth speakers allow you to listen to your music on the go, and front-facing LEDs are equipped for safety. To get your hands on a RevoBot, head over to their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign where they’re currently priced at $665. + RevoBot The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bluetooth speakers , body gravity board , IndieGoGo , reader submitted content , Revobot

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Futuristic body gravity board lets you glide effortlessly to your destination

Will 3D Printers Make Baggage Fees and Lost Luggage Obsolete?

June 1, 2014 by  
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Although the prospect of traveling is always exciting, packing everything is a drag. First there’s the worry of forgetting something, then there’s the task of cramming everything you need into the available baggage. Then comes the fateful moment that you arrive at the check-in counter and put the luggage on the scale. And even if you clock in under the acceptable weight limit, you’ve still got to fork over the baggage fee and pray that it arrives at the same place you do. A new art exhibit called  Lost Luggage   imagines a future where this entire process is digitized, so packing for a trip is as easy as sending an email to a 3D printer at your destination. Follow the link below to learn how it may work. READ MORE> Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3D printers , 3Dprinting , baggage fees , ecouterre , Janne Kyttanan , luggage , traveling

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Imposing Communist-Era Television Tower Offers a Unique Hotel Destination in Prague

March 26, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Imposing Communist-Era Television Tower Offers a Unique Hotel Destination in Prague Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: communist-era architecture , David Cerny , metallic baby sculptures , Oblaca restaurant , one room hotel Prague , Prague television tower hotel , Žižkov Television Tower        

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Droog Hotel: Droog’s Plug-N-Play Amsterdam Oasis Rejuvenates Your Body And Mind

September 27, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Droog Hotel: Droog’s Plug-N-Play Amsterdam Oasis Rejuvenates Your Body And Mind Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Amsterdam , Design , destination , green renovation , hotel , Hotel Droog , Kabinet , lodging , Travel , vacation

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Droog Hotel: Droog’s Plug-N-Play Amsterdam Oasis Rejuvenates Your Body And Mind

Droog Hotel: Droog’s Plug-N-Play Amsterdam Oasis Rejuvenates Your Body And Mind

September 27, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Droog Hotel: Droog’s Plug-N-Play Amsterdam Oasis Rejuvenates Your Body And Mind Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Amsterdam , Design , destination , green renovation , hotel , Hotel Droog , Kabinet , lodging , Travel , vacation

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Future Perfect: Driverless electric taxis for clean and safe highways

July 30, 2011 by  
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Rajeev Kumar: ATNMBL The all-wheel drive car, known as ATNMBL, will generate power from roof-mounted solar panels What’s happening right now: As the cities of the world are rapidly transforming into congested spaces, the future of the world would significantly depend on how they deal with issues of congestion and provide a sustainable living experience to the people. According to a World Bank study, the urban population is expanding at more than six percent in most of the rapidly developing countries. It is expected that megacities of the world would more than double within a generation. The urban planners are, thus investing into the concepts that would enable them to deal with the twin problem. Driverless electric taxis, or the personal rapid transit system (PRT), are seen by many as a possible solution to problems discussed here. Trends: 1) OPTI Concept: OPTI Concept Designer Paul Piliste has conceptualized the OPTI, an ecofriendly driverless taxi for London, which could hit the street with sheer style and smartness in the year 2025. The OPTI concept has been developed by designer Paul Piliste as an eco-friendly driverless taxi for the city of London. The lithium-ion batteries will enable it to travel for 50 miles when fully recharged and, moreover, it can be recharged wirelessly. It will be equipped with satellite navigation system, parking sensors and proximity lasers. The users will have to hire this taxi from various hiring points in the city. Then they can select their destination on a touch screen and the taxi will automatically navigate them to that place. It is expected to be launched in London by 2025. 2) AXI Robot Taxi: AXI Robot Taxi AXI Robot Taxi designed by Kubik Peter has two seats and a small luggage space. The AXI Robot taxi has been designed by Kubik Peter. It will run on battery-powered electric motors attached to the rear wheels of the taxi. Built from lightweight materials, this robot taxi can run for upto 20 miles on a single recharge at the speed of upto 90 miles per hour. It has been primarily designed for congested urban spaces. Two persons with minimum luggage can enjoy a ride on this evironment friendly driverless taxi. 3) Heathrow Taxi pod Heathrow Taxi pod The idea is you’d swipe an access card, be greeted by name, and then be silently whisked away to your destination — or close to it, at least. The four-seater Heathrow Taxi pod has been designed by Professor Martin Lowson as the first PRT of the world. It is currently used at the Heathrow airport for taking passengers from Terminal 5 to the parking lot of the airport. This bubble-shaped vehicle runs on battery and can reach the speed of upto 25 miles per hour. Passengers have to select their destination on a touch screen inside the pods while the sensors buried under the surface of road direct it towards the destination. 4) ATNMBL ATNMBL The all-wheel drive car, known as ATNMBL, will generate power from roof-mounted solar panels The ATNMBL has been designed as autonomous taxis which passengers can hire through phone calls. This taxi features modular-seating that includes a couch, side chair and a table for giving the passengers a feel of their living room. The electric motors of this vehicle will be powered by solar-panels mounted the roof. The Concept: The driverless, compact and eco-friendly taxis are expected to be a defining feature of the congested roads in 21st century. These taxis will run within within the pedestrian zones and will be equipped with modern technologies for accident-free navigation. They will be controlled from a common station and can be availed by the passengers through phone calls. The proposed advantages include: 1. Increase in the capacity of existing roads. 2. Allowing passengers to use their travel time for other fruitful purposes, without worrying for driving and navigating chores. 3. Lesser road accidents 4. Better management of traffic flow 5. Providing an environmentally friendly alternative to existing transport systems. 6. Decrease in the number of personal vehicles and control over rising fuel prices. The impact: The driverless electric taxis can change the way we commute. Countries like Germany, UAE and UK have begun experimenting this futuristic, eco-friendly system in small measures. However, the real impact could be judged only after testing in a real congested city. Also, it may not be a completely ‘green’ alternative as the developers would have to worry about the sources for recharging batteries and meeting demands of a megacity.

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