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Eco Travel

How to Start Traveling Green

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What does a car company, a hotel and a yoga brand have in common? Turns out it’s a commitment to making green living feasible on the road and at home. Virtuous Traveler Leslie Garrett interviews a few forward-thinking companies and shares their top-down green travel initiatives.

Following the release of my book The Virtuous Consumer, I was often asked about “eco” changes I’d made in my own life. At first, my mind went blank. Surely I’d done something. But I’d be darned if I could think of what it was.

Of course I’d done plenty: line-dry clothes, use a programmable thermostat, buy organic food direct from a local farmer, bike instead of drive, purchase clothes second-hand or made of organic cotton/hemp/bamboo. We composted year-round, used a “green” energy provider, washed clothes in cold waterthe list went on (and on!). Though there were also some big changes: we sourced Forest Stewardship Council-certified hardwood for our floors; we bought a hybrid vehicle.Most of the changes were small, easy and so mundane that they quickly became routine and, therefore, forgettable.

And that’s a point that’s so often missed in discussions of “going green.” These choices, like many lifestyle changes, only seem challenging when they’re new. Remember, I like to remind people, when recycling was introduced and we were all moaning about having to separate our trash from our recyclables? Now we do it without even thinking about it.

I recently spoke with some of the top industry eco-pioneers to learn about their own green awakeningand how we can join the revolution. I’ve gathered together the best of their advice to help you create a green lifestyle at home and on the road that will stick.

“Points of Entry”

Jana Hartline, Environmental Communications Manager for Toyota, refers to “points of entry,” those easy-to-adopt behaviors that move us toward a greener lifestyle.

She suggests starting small, such as “recycling all your cans, glass, and plastic” and “coaching your family to turn off all the lights and electronics in your home, when not in use.”

Susan Nichols, Founder and “Chiefess Executive Officer” of the Santa Monica-based yoga studio and gear manufacturer Yogitoes, suggests starting a list of easy things you can do – refusing plastics, for example, and getting reusable water bottles and bags instead of disposable. “When we start to make changes leading to a more sustainable life,” she says, “it inspires us to do more.”

Jim Treadway agrees. The general manager of the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, CA, loves to show guests the green behind his hotel, one of only three LEED-platinum-certified hotels in the U.S. “We educate our guests about what we do here,” he says. As an example, he points to the hotel’s gardens, where most of the produce, herbs and spices used by the kitchen and the bar are grown. “We do not use any processed food. We make everything from scratch, ” he says. “Even ketchup.” The hotel is cleaned using only ionized water, eliminating the need for environmentally toxic cleansers. Guests, he says, often check in with little or no environmental consciousness. “They leave as converts.”

Myth-Busting

Unfortunately, many people think living lighter on the planet is harder on the wallet. Not true, said the eco experts, pointing out that living greener often means buying less, but buying better. “It’s a shift in mindset more than anything else,” says Toyota’s Hartline.

“Simply becoming more conscious of our consumption, choices and subsequent impacts costs nothing but can have big results.”

It isn’t “all or nothing,” says Nichols. “Each little step makes a huge impact as more people do it.”

And, to bust the pervasive myth that eco is synonymous with discomfort, poor performance and “good-for-you” dullness, Treadway points to his high-end hotel.

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