The Less is Best Traveler 


The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned." There are several ways that travelers can reduce waste while traveling. Here are just a few ideas to get started.

  • Businesses are responsive to their guests, customers and clients who voice concerns, so speak up. If you have compliments or comments regarding their company's environmental performance, write a note or speak directly to the general manager of the hotel, the operator of a resort or campground, the captain of the airplane, or the manager of your tour company.
  • Use reusable bags, storage containers and towels. Rent equipment, avoid disposables, and pack waste-free picnics by bringing reusables and recyclables home with you. Buy fruits and vegetables without packaging.
  • Purchase electronic tickets for air travel whenever possible.

Take what you need

Food and packaging waste accounts for half or mor of what is thrown away in a day away from home. Yet there are some easy ways for you to reduce how much food and packaging you throw away.

  • Reduce fast food waste and excess packaging in carryout food. "No thanks, I don't need a bag," may draw a curious look, but sometimes you have to speak up for what you don't want.
  • Carry your own reusable mug to avoid disposable cups.
  • Pack a cooler of food bought in bulk or deli-style (which are often "least-packaged" options) such as meats, cheeses and cookies.
  • Bring along reusable plates and flatware. Use lightweight plastic plates instead of paper plates, because they can be washed and used several times over.
  • Avoid room service to reduce the use of disposable items.
  • Ask for smaller portions when ordering food where portions are bigger than you can eat.
  • Did you grab too many packages of ketchup or mustard? They won't spoil, so save them for next time you have a meal on the go. Same goes for napkins and other conveniences.
  • Make sure to promptly refrigerate leftovers you bring home so they don't end up as waste.

Transportation tips

  • Choose to walk, bike, or cross-country ski instead using motorized forms of recreation.
  • Use public transportation.
  • Carpool with friends or family to reduce miles traveled in your vehicle.
  • Use the hotel van instead of renting a car.
  • Share taxis. You create less pollution, plus you leave the driving to others.

Hotel tips

Many hotels have implemented waste reduction practices into their operations. Here are a few things that travelers can do to help hotels reduce the amount of waste they generate.

  • Let the hotel know that it's not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day.
  • Reduce water use by taking shorter baths or showers.
  • When you leave your hotel room, turn off the air conditioner, heat, lights, television, and close the drapes.
  • Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins.
  • Leave the little bottles of bathroom amenities in the room if unopened. Share any complimentary newspapers with others. Leave it in the lobby for reuse or see that it's recycled.
  • If available, use the hotel's electronic check-out program on the TV. You can view your bill, approve it, and help reduce paperwork.

Tips for the eco-tourist

  • Take only the brochures or maps that you need.
  • Take photographs, but avoid disposable cameras that are expensive and wasteful. Buy rolls of film with 36 shots rather than 12 or 24. You have less packaging waste, and you'll save about 40 percent by the time you get your film processed.
  • Leave only footprints. Take out everything that you brought with you so others can enjoy the area in the same way that you did.
  • When it comes to trash, you can "take it with you." Set an example and pick up at least one piece of litter every day, especially at places with lots of tourists.