When we vacation, we often fly or drive—neither of which have the smallest carbon footprint. But there are lots of things you can do while on your vacation to help reduce your impact on the local and international ecosystem. Here are just a few tips to have an environmentally-friendly vacation.
#1 - Enjoy local foods and spirits - and avoid meat if you can.
The whole point of travel is to enjoy local flavor, so whenever you can, get local farm-to-table foods and try some local ales. The shorter the distance it traveled to get to your mouth, the better. Also, avoiding meat whenever possible is an easy way to save water: it takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef. That’s a costly hamburger.
#2 - Stay on the trail!
We know it’s an appealing idea to go find spots that you think no one else has discovered, especially in a place as beautiful as Haleakalā National Park. But it’s important to the local birds like the NÄ“nÄ“ and especially the endemic plants like the Silversword that you don’t step away from the path and possibly disturb fragile root systems. If you’re on a Skyline Zipline tour, this is where you’ll depend on your guide to lead the way!
#3 - Bring reusable shopping bags.
These are nice and flat to pack, but can make a huge difference. According to biologicaldiversity.org, over 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic shopping bags every year. That’s a tragic number, but easy to remedy in the future if we’re smart about it!
#4 - Try investing in carbon offsets for your travel.
You can find many companies now that allow you to quell some of your fossil fuel guilt by investing in initiatives like renewable energy, clean water, sustainable land use and more. But it’s important to research where your money is going with these organizations. An easier way you can ensure your money goes to the right place is to simply donate to an established environmental nonprofit like the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund or your local Audubon Society. (Love Hawaii’s endemic birds? Give to the Hawaii Audubon Society!)
#5 - Combine your trips!
Visit countries and cities that are near each other in one trip, instead of booking multiple trips. This has the added benefit of being much more cost-effective. And don’t forget to pack light - the heavier the plane, the more fuel it takes to move it. If everyone was conscious of this fact, it’d make a huge difference.
#6 - Bring your refillable water bottle.
About a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, and only about 30% of them are recycled. That means plastic is a huge problem for our oceans, creating giant floating landfills. Help lessen this problem by packing and refilling your water bottle. You can get great collapsible versions that will take up less space in your bag. If you’re traveling to a spot where the water quality is questionable, try purchasing store-bought water in glass water bottles, a much more environmentally-friendly option when possible. Often, it might also be possible to purchase filters or tablets that can clean your water.
#7 - Consider giving back to the communities you visit.
Spend one or two days of your vacation helping a local environmental nonprofit. Every year, on Arbor Day, Skyline puts on Zip For the Trees—we work with local school kids to plant 300-500 native trees, and offer discounted zipline tours to the community. 100% of our profits on that day go to environmental nonprofits. We also schedule plastic clean-up days throughout the year through our initiative Wipe Out Plastic, and would be happy to have you join us!
#8 - Be aware of your resource usage.
Turn off lights, take short showers and only charge digital devices as much as necessary. Hawaii is moving more and more toward renewable energy sources with 1 out of 8 homes using solar power and a goal for the state of 70% renewable energy by 2030, but for now, the islands are still mostly powered by fossil fuels.
#9 - Give up a little luxury for earth-friendliness.
Staying in a luxury hotel can be the best part of your vacation—if you do this, look for hotels with green policies that reduce water and resource usage. Do small things that can make a big difference if everyone does them, like reusing your towels and not changing your bed sheets every day. Use the glasses provided or your personal water bottle and skip the bottled water in the room. We know it looks tempting, but the tap is usually just as good!
#10 - Engage in activities that are friendly to the environment.
One of the reasons we love Skyline tours (and ziplining!) is that they’re some of the least environmentally impactful activities you can engage in. And as you fly over the jaw-dropping landscape, it helps you realize just how important it is to preserve these priceless natural resources so they can be enjoyed for many generations to come.