If a honeymoon heralds your life as a couple, make it your nature to go green with a holiday that’s easy on Mother Earth.
Green is the new white… for weddings, that is.
With an increasing number of couples opting for eco-nuptials – everything from recycled paper invitations with soy-based ink to organic flower petal confetti – it’s only natural that the honeymoon gets a green makeover, too.
The prospect of a lower-stress vacation lures some couples through the eco door.
Sarah Kraybill Burkhalter got married last summer and says her honeymoon was simply an extension of her and her husband’s “green ethos.” (Coincidentally, she works as an editorial assistant with the popular eco-site Grist.org.)
While the Seattle-based couple initially entertained the notion of having their honeymoon in New England, they then switched gears and opted for a vacation in nearby Vancouver Island.
Kraybill Burkhalter says they spent their honeymoon first at a “tree house right on the ocean” followed by a stay at a B&B that offered up organic breakfasts. They ate vegetarian meals at local establishments, went hiking, and took in a Farmer’s Market and the island’s noted artist co-ops.
The result? A honeymoon that not only put less stress on the planet, but less stress on the new couple. As the bride puts it, “I did a lot of walking in the sun, ate a lot of good food, and spent a lot of quality time with my favorite person.”
My own honeymoon was spent at our newly purchased cottage on a lake. No planes to catch, no bags to pack, no travel insurance required. Just days spent lazing in the company of my husband.
Kraybill Burkhalter agrees, “Planning a wedding is stressful enough, and once it’s all over with you’ll just want to relax. Save the high-energy tourism for another trip. If you honeymoon locally, you save money, time and sanity, and have a lighter impact on the earth to boot.”
“Green honeymoons are still a ‘feel-good’ movement,” explains Meghan Meyers, founding editorial director and CEO of the recently launched green wedding magazine Portovert. Meyers, a former eco-travel writer for National Geographic Traveler, among others, has a particular interest in persuading brides and grooms to green their honeymoons.
“Most couples are not actively seeking ‘green’ options when it comes to honeymoon choices,” she admits. “But when presented with the notion that one option is better/smarter/greener than another–both being equally appealing–today’s active, urban couple will choose Option A.”
Fortunately, thanks to considerable press these days of all things “green,” the idea of eco-friendly honeymoons is going mainstream.
Ericka Nelson, general manager of Kimpton Hotels’ 70 Park Avenue property in New York City, has seen a “noticeable increase” in requests for green honeymoons. Kimpton has long been a leader in the movement toward greener travel: The chain uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies, prints promotional material on recycled paper with soy-based inks, and offers organic items in its mini-bars. Nelson recently fielded a request for an eco-savvy bachelorette party and responded by providing a hybrid limo for transportation, a day at an organic spa and catering that used organic, fair-trade items.
If you want to green your honeymoon, consider these ways to tread lightly on the earth, while taking those first steps towards official coupledom.
You can keep it simple or go for the green gusto:
—Stick close to home. If you expect to be spending most of your honeymoon in the hotel room, consider not venturing too far from home. Perhaps a short drive to a B&B? A few days in a neighboring city?
—Eschew plane travel and opt for more eco-friendly transport. Meyers points out that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a long-haul trip or a short one: “Most of the carbon emissions occur during takeoff.” While I’ll have a hard time convincing anyone that buses are a “honeymoonish” mode of transport, I think trains can be wildly romantic. I offer up as evidence the train sequence in North by Northwest. As Cary Grant pointed out, “It sure beats flying.”
—Consider greening your wheels with an eco-friendly rental car. More rental car agencies are offering up hybrids or natural gas vehicles as options. A good place to start is with EV Rental Cars, affiliated with Fox Rent-A-Car. For more information on EV Rental Cars, visit them on the Web at www.evrental.com
—Abandon four wheels for two with a cycling holiday. Whether you go for something here or farther flung – a cycling trip is a great way to get to know an area… and your companion. Endless hours spent drinking in the sights, feeling the breeze on your face, then indulging in a guilt-free feast makes for one romantic holiday. There are zillions of bike holiday providers – pick your location, your price point, your time and you’re good to go. Your other option is to use bikes (or public transportation) to get around your destination. It’s an ideal way to experience an area and its people.
—Carbon offsets are creating buzz in the travel industry (and on the campaign trail) these days. What they basically mean is that you offset any greenhouse gas emissions from your travel by investing in projects that remove the same amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Tree planting is a popular option, but you can also invest in renewable energy sources, provide energy-efficient lighting in developing countries and more. Fortunately, there are companies only too happy to help you with the math. Check out NativeEnergy (www.NativeEnergy.com) or Climate Friendly (www.climatefriendly.com) to get started.
—When you’re visiting developing countries, think outside the big box – restaurants, hotels and resorts, that is. There are a few, such as Fairmont Hotels, that have a truly green reputation. But, unfortunately, when you stay or eat in larger establishments, your money rarely stays in the community. A better bet is to find accommodations and food from those who live and work right in the area you’re visiting. That way your tourist dollars are doing their best work. To help find eco-accommodations visit greenseal.org/programs/lodging_projects.cfm
—Find an eco-tour that suits. Check out Conservation International’s offerings at www.ecotour.org or Sierra Club holidays, which support the organization’s initiatives, at www.sierraclub.org/outings. If you’re looking higher-end, Meyers recommends www.eco-luxury.org, which offers up some incredible spots including Morgan’s Rock in Nicaragua, one of her favorites. The noted eco-destination features private wooden bungalows and plenty of activities to keep you busy…or not.
A few other eco-offerings:
How about Bikini Boot Camp at Amansala Eco-Chic Resort in Tulum, Mexico? If you never did lose that final 10 pounds for your wedding day, it’s not too late. The new couple can start their day with a beach or jungle powerwalk, move into fitness programs, swimming, visits to Mayan ruins or spa treatments and end the day with yoga and meditation. Food is chemical-free and low-calorie. Visit www.amansala.com for more information.
A thatched cottage in Belize can be a perfectly romantic getaway. The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an award-winning eco-resort that offers individual accommodations in cottages constructed by locals using sustainable materials. The food is locally grown, organic, served by friendly Belizeans, and absolutely delicious.
Mornings begin with mist rising over the rainforest and the sounds of tropical birds and can end with a night hike to seek out nocturnal jungle creatures or with a drink on the outdoor deck. In between, there’s horseback riding, an elegantly rustic spa and day trips to Mayan temples, canoe trips and more. Or snuggle together on the veranda in your own hammock. See www.chaacreek.com for more information.
Leslie Garrett is an award-winning journalist and author. Her most recent book, The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide to a Better, Kinder, Healthier World will be released in June. Visit Leslie at www.thevirtuoustraveler.com
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Previously by Leslie Garrett on PeterGreenberg.com: