Sustainability Made Simple: Travel tips for sustainable living

By Kate Gaertner and Amy Hall
For the Hollywood Star News

One of the largest areas under our direct control is how we get from our house to where we want to go. Travel utilizing a combustion engine automobile or necessitating an air-flight to get us to our final destination contributes mightily to our personal carbon footprints. All of the choices we make around how we travel and by what mode are critically important to consider given that 30% of our individual carbon emissions come from combusting fossil fuels. As we begin to plan and take adventures both near and far during this second pandemic summer and beyond, let’s consciously consider our approach to taking vacations, holidays, and get-aways that are sustainably-minded and lighter touch while still packing an adventuresome, fun and relaxing punch, when and how we need it.

ecoshuttle wine tours
ecoshuttle wine tours

Three Sustainability Travel Tips

1. Take a trip to Oregon’s Wine Country. Why not combine two things that Oregon is known for: natural environments and excellent wines. The husband-and-wife operated EcoShuttle Charters and Tours company brings individuals and groups to Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley AVA to take-in the rolling hills and verdant landscape, and to sip wine, worry-free, from more than 650 wineries all within 30 mile of downtown Portland. EcoShuttle is committed to green operations, employing buses and vans that run on the highest blend of biodiesel available throughout the seasons: B99/100 during the hot summer months, and either straight vegetable oil or plant-based renewable diesel (R99) from the fall to spring. Call EcoShuttle today to book your very own wine tour this summer and enjoy sipping wine and amazing views surrounded by clean, unpolluted air.

2. Commit to a Pacific NW eco-adventure. One of the many reasons Oregonians stay in their state for generations is because of all the natural richness and historical significance the Pacific Northwest has to offer: from skiing, rock climbing, surfing, paddle boarding, and whale watching to appreciating ancient volcanic flows, volcanic mountains, unique high-deserts, and Native American lands and peoples. Even more compelling is the fact that most of these adventures are within 90 miles of Portland downtown. Check out Ecotours of Oregon, a North Portland touring company that offers group, private and custom tours to Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge, tours of Mount St. Helens, whale watching on the Oregon coast, and historical tours of the Lewis & Clark trail and Native American tribal lands. If you’re new to Oregon or have been waiting for that closer-to-home grand adventure, this summer is the perfect time to book your Pacific NW holiday that won’t disappoint!

3. Ditch the plane and travel scenically. Flying is a carbon emissions buster for individuals and given the altitude at which planes cruise, a negative double-whammy to the environment. Try limiting the number of flights you take. If you must travel, pick nonstop whenever possible. A better (for the environment) way to travel? By train or bus. Take a weekend city jaunt to destinations such as Seattle, Bellingham, or Eugene. Amtrak offers a relaxing alternative to driving the stressful and crowded 1-5 Interstate. Head up to Seattle and enjoy views along the coast that you won’t see by car. Walk around, watch a movie and arrive at Union Station in the International District well-rested and ready for adventure. Bolt Bus has a pick up near Lloyd Center in NE and can take you to destinations located both North or South of Portland in a comfortable, clean bus that includes wifi.

Rose City Park Climate Communications Expert Amy Hall and Sustainability Consultant Kate Gaertner write this monthly column with ideas that neighbors can implement to live more sustainable lives and combat climate change. Hall is co-founder of THRIVE creative, and also works at TripleWin Advisory, a corporate sustainability consultancy founded by Gaertner. Gaertner has a book coming out this fall on personal sustainability titled, ‘Planting a Seed: Three simple steps to sustainable living.’

Portland Named the Most Eco-Friendly City in America

Portland is a city with an eco-conscious spirit. From harnessing the sun for renewable energy to having one of the highest levels of energy-efficient commuters, Portland is a city revered for its eco-consciousness. It is in the top 1% of the country for the power they generate from renewable sources. One of their largest energy efficiency projects to date has been converting 45,000 streetlights to use LED technology. Now, the city’s streetlights and traffic signals use 66% less energy than they did back in 2006, and Portland saves $1.5 million annually. Through its recycling and composting efforts, Portland recovers 81% of all waste produced by city operations and is on track to recover up to 90% by the year 2030.

PDX Bridge City

Starting in 2002 with a recycling program for compostable and recyclables, Portland became one of the first cities in America to use waste as fertilizer by turning it into compost. Recently, they celebrated being able to recycle 100% of their residential solid waste excluding hazardous materials such as batteries and propane tanks. They have also eliminated Styrofoam containers from all food service establishments within the city limits and replaced them with biodegradable cups, plates, bowls, takeout boxes, and utensils. But one of the biggest steps forward is Portland’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution from vehicles and transportation.

How Portland Is Creating Sustainable Commuters

In a recent study, Portland was named the most sustainable city in America. This was based on a variety of factors including the percentage of renewable energy, green space allotted, and the percentage of energy-efficient commuters. In recent years, Portland has become more environmentally conscious in its transportation habits. The city’s eco-friendly transportation options are growing at an unprecedented rate, and the number of carless households is on the rise as well. One of the most popular things to do in Portland is to bike around. There are more than 200 miles of biking trails that connect neighborhoods throughout the city. But when bikes don’t cut it, there are other eco-friendly transportation methods taking root in Portland. While this starts by eliminating the one car, one driver conundrum, creating a sustainable form of public transportation was necessary to take Portland’s environmental efforts to the next level. With almost 2.5 million people living in the metro area, creating sustainable transportation options is crucial for reducing carbon pollution and making Portland more environmentally friendly. But eco-friendly group transportation goes beyond, public buses. Airport shuttles, event rental and much more, play an active role in reducing carbon pollution in Portland. 

portland city

Today, Portland has ensured that 19.6% of their commuters are using energy-efficient transportation. While this is fantastic, there is still room for improvement. Transportation accounts for 29% of carbon emissions in the United States, and the typical American’s gross carbon footprint is an astounding 50 thousand pounds. Although it is clear that people will never be able to eradicate the necessity for long flights, we should all make smart judgments that focus more on environmentally friendly methods of travel and avoid the non-sustainable forms wherever feasible. Find local methods of travel and commuting that improve Portland’s sustainability even more to help make a difference in the sustainability of our world and environment.

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Whether you want simple point to point transportation for your guests or you want to give your guests the Oregon experience, complete with wine tours, brewery tours, and scenic excursions, ecoShuttle has options for you. Our buses are meticulously maintained, our drivers are friendly and reliable, and our booking process is easy. Our wedding shuttle services include wedding party transportation, bachelorette parties, and tours of Portland and the surrounding area. You can have your cake and eat it too. Get a quote from ecoShuttle today! How groups travel Green in the Pacific Northwest.

Why you should consider a micro-wedding

AndreaZajoncPhotography 22
Source: AndreaZajoncPhotography

Are you considering a small-scale, intimate celebration for your wedding day? Perhaps a large gathering is currently not possible, or simply doesn’t appeal. The prevailing trend for micro weddings brings many benefits: they cost less money to organize, they’re more eco-friendly, you have more flexibility regarding your venue, and hosting a select celebration lets you really focus on the details to ensure your day is truly memorable. Here are some ideas to make your big day perfectly compact.

folklifecreative wedding photography
Source: folklifecreative photography

Invite your nearest and dearest

Honing your guest list may seem a challenge. Who do you speak to frequently? Who gives you great advice and reassurance, makes you smile when you think of them, and never fails to brighten your day? Invite those people you and your partner feel closest to, and who you feel most comfortable with. This way you’ll celebrate your day surrounded by loved ones who really matter in your life.

 

Make it personal

A smaller gathering gives you scope for a less orthodox, more personal venue. Perhaps hold your celebrations at the restaurant where you had your first date, or in the backyard of your family home. How about an outdoor theme such as a garden or beach wedding? You can obtain permission to get married in a national park, or in a beautiful public building or gallery.

You could rent a private property in a stunning location with room to accommodate your guests, such as a beach house or country lodge. Or perhaps hold your celebrations aboard a boat floating on a serene lake. 

 

Get creative

Instead of heading to the printers, make handwritten invitations for your guests. Everyone will appreciate the attention to detail, and they make beautiful keepsakes. After your wedding, you could send out a handwritten wedding announcement to your larger circle of friends who didn’t attend on the day.

fifty licks ice cream catering portland
fifty licks ice cream catering portland

Use local suppliers

Support local businesses, such as your local florist and bakery. Hire a chef from your favorite restaurant to do the catering. Local Ice cream company, fifty-licks, provides catering for a simple and sweet wedding treat. Book a small group of live musicians instead of a DJ – they’ll provide an instant atmosphere, and will happily perform your favorite songs. Oregon Bride magazine is a great source for local wedding related businesses. Source a reputable photographer to capture the key moments of your intimate and exclusive gathering.

 

All in the detail

A long banquet table or a U-shaped table layout will give you and your guests a feeling of inclusion and togetherness. Perhaps set up a lounge area with day beds and oversize cushions for everyone to relax and interact.

A smaller group will be cheaper to cater for. Will you indulge in a six-course meal, a sumptuous buffet, or a laid-back BBQ? If you want a tiered cake, ask your wedding bakery to make a scaled-down version. Alternatively, you can opt for individual cupcakes. You can present them in recyclable boxes for your guests to take away at the end of the celebrations.

Make personalized place cards. Be inspired by your surroundings and bring nature into your planning. Examples include writing the name of each guest on a leaf, a stone, or a seashell. You could also make handwritten menus using a gold pen and parchment paper.

Ensure your photographer captures everyone in a group shot. You can have this made into a thank you card to send out after the event.

Let your guests throw flower petals instead of confetti after the ceremony. They will look and smell beautiful, plus they’re eco-friendly.

 

Whether you want simple point to point transportation for your guests or you want to give your guests the Oregon experience, complete with wine tours, brewery tours, and scenic excursions, ecoShuttle has options for you. Our buses are meticulously maintained, our drivers are friendly and reliable, and our booking process is easy. Our wedding shuttle services include wedding party transportation, bachelorette parties, and tours of Portland and the surrounding area. You can have your cake and eat it too. Get a quote from ecoShuttle today! How groups travel Green in the Pacific Northwest.

Early signs of life in travel industry as COVID-19 vaccines revive Americans’ wanderlust

Source: MEGAN CERULLO

The beaten down travel industry is showing signs of life as coronavirus vaccines allow homebound Americans to start thinking of hopping a flight.

Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare, a membership-based travel company that operates its own tours around the world and that had seen 14 straight years of growth before the pandemic, said new bookings fell to zero as COVID-19 took hold. By June 2020, sales had plunged nearly 100% compared to the year-earlier period.

In recent weeks, however, business has started to pick up. “I had three phone calls today with people who said, ‘I haven’t travelled in a year, I got both of my vaccinations, where am I going?'” Bradley told CBS MoneyWatch.

As of January, traffic to Indagare’s website was down less than 2% compared to its pre-COVID level. New bookings have jumped over the past three weeks as the U.S. vaccine rollout accelerates, with sales in mid-February at their highest point since before domestic and international travel effectively shut down last year.

Data from consumer spending research firm Facteus show that travel spending has edged up for the last three weeks. For the week of February 21, travel spending was down 42% compared to the year-earlier period. But that’s still up four percentage points from the prior week. Travel bookings were also up six percentage points last week, according to Facteus.

Maine resident and avid athlete Paula Laverty, 73, is looking forward to a solo ski trip in Park City, Utah, early next month. She arranged the excursion in late January after getting her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (as recommended for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines).

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Laverty still plans to take precautions, and doesn’t expect people who have not yet been vaccinated to want to ski with her. It’s one of the first strips she’ll have taken in roughly a year, when she visited New York City.

 

“I am still not comfortable going inside restaurants, and I will be double-masking and probably skiing by myself,” she said.

Dreaming of warm weather

So where are Americans most eager to travel after being cooped up for year? Beach vacations rank high in online searches, according to fare aggregators and booking sites. For example, as of late February, searches for flights to Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island were up 31% compared to the same period a year ago, according to Kayak.

Popular overseas destinations now include Egypt, Kenya, Costa Rica and Belize — locales that are open to visitors and relatively easy to reach from the U.S., Indagare’s Bradley said.

Boutique hotel booking site Tablet Hotels has also noticed a recent uptick in website visits, many of which have led to bookings. “January was really quiet, and we have seen steady growth since the last week of January. Over the past couple weeks site traffic is way up,” CEO Lucy Lieberman said.

Among Tablet Hotels’ hottest destinations: Austin, Texas; Miami; Paris; and Tulum, Mexico.

“It’s totally related to vaccine. In late November, when the initial vaccine announcements started to come out, we saw an immediate spike in bookings,” Lieberman said. People had raging cabin fever and were booking for really far out — around Thanksgiving, people were booking for Thanksgiving 2021.”

Hotels that promote their safety protocols and cleanliness stand out with consumers. Travelers are also more interested in hotels — which tend to have professional staffs, housekeeping and safety standards — than home rentals.

“We get the sense people are done doing their own laundry and cooking and cleaning,” Lieberman said.

Travel is top of mind, too, as spring break, Easter and Passover, and summer holidays come into view. Users of the travel site are even booking for college graduations in May and June, Lieberman said.

Too soon to call it a comeback

Of course, no one expects 2021 to be a banner year for travel, especially as different strains of COVID-19 threaten to trigger another wave of infections.

“We are expecting for 2021 to be lower volume than 2019 for sure,” Lieberman said.

Bradley of Indagare, expects that by June sales will be about 35% of what they were for the same month in 2019.

Home-sharing company Airbnb, with more than 4 million hosts across the country, on Thursday reported its 2020 revenue was $3.4 billion, down 30% from the same period in 2019.

Still, CEO Brian Chesky told Wall Street analysts he is optimistic that travel will recover from the pandemic, particularly as more companies ditch their offices, giving employees the opportunity to work from different locales.

“Travel is coming back,” Chesky said during the company’s earnings call. “And we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound.”

ecoShuttle’s mission is to provide innovative and flexible transportation options that harness alternative fuels and cater to our customers’ unique needs. Our goal is to improve the quality of life, now and for future generations, by committing to sustainable practices in everything we do. Each customer will be treated uniquely but with equal respect, and will be given the best possible experience focused on safety, reliability, and unparalleled customer service. We are the originators of sustainable transportation. Check us out!

Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter

Source: Charles Orgbon

Black Lives Matter

Long before corporations acknowledged Black Lives Matter, they championed the plights of specific endangered species. Corporate conservation campaigns used phrases such as “Save the [insert your favorite animal],” which have been catchy, effective and oddly similar to the language we’re now using to educate people about the status of Black life in America.

The Disney Conservation Fund protects lions, elephants, chimpanzees and thousands of other species. Ben & Jerry’s brings awareness to declining honeybee populations. Coca-Cola appropriately is the longtime ally of the poster child for climate change, the polar bear.

As a kid, I, too, was influenced by Coca-Cola’s messaging. At just 11, I thought I could stop global warming, so I created a blog with articles urging people, “Save the polar bears.” No one challenged me by asking, “What about the tigers? The tigers…matter, too! All endangered species matter.”

The fact is, polar bears were (and still are) drowning due to global problems. If we addressed the root causes of those global problems such as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, in fact, all endangered species would fare better.

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” works similarly to “Save the polar bear,” only that Black people are drowning in a sea of systemic racism instead of a rising sea of melting ice.

Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good.

When someone says something such as “Save the polar bears,” they are also indirectly revealing other information about themselves. Perhaps they eat organic, use public transportation, recycle or take military-style showers.

Likewise, when we say “Black Lives Matter” we are actually making a declaration about our belief that injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All lives truly matter when those that are the most marginalized matter.

Want to know how well our society is tackling climate change? Look to polar bears. If they’re doing good, we’re doing good.

Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how white people are just awakening to the systemic racism that continues to thrive in every aspect of American life and how this systemic racism continues to affect me daily. If so many people have gone so long without acknowledging the reality that people of color experience every day, it’s not surprising that these issues have gone on for so long.

Watershed moment

Sometimes a watershed moment is needed to bring attention to a crisis. After all, no one cared about polar bears until Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 volcanic eruption, which greatly influenced our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts on arctic life. The catastrophic event was one of the most significant watershed moments for climate activism.

Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is amid a watershed moment. White people are awakening from their own hibernation and acknowledging that, yes, as the statistics suggest, racism still exists.

For example, Black people and white people breathe different air. Black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Give more than just a cursory glance to Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and you’ll discover its truisms: “Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” Researchers have found that toxic chemical exposure is linked to race: minority populations have higher levels of benzene and other dangerous aromatic chemical exposure. Lead poisoning also disproportionately affects people of color in the U.S., especially Black people.

A careful examination of our nation’s statistics reveals myriad racial disparities. The polarity of experiences is startling. This influenced many well-intentioned white people to examine numerous situations and ask, “Is racial bias truly at play here?”

I challenge that that’s not the question we must ask when we live in a world with such disparate statistics for communities of color. It’s much more powerful to ask, “How is racial bias at play here?”

Those who fail to confront how racial bias is often at play attempt to live in a colorblind world that does not exist.

When tipping service workers, when selecting your next dentist, when making employment decisions, when raising children, seriously consider that the world is not colorblind. And to create a more equitable world, we have to fight more aggressively to counteract the evil that already exists.

This is what it means to be anti-racist, or as the National Museum of African American History and Culture counsels, “Make frequent, consistent and equitable choices to be conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives.”

So, what can allies do?

Step 1: Take out a sticky note.

Step 2: Write out the words ANTI-RACIST.

Step 3: Put it on your laptop monitor and do the work. It’s a daily practice to filter your thoughts, communication and decisions through an anti-racist lens.

5 Tips for Travelling With Pets

By: Veronica Lewis

A family vacation is generally not a very happy time for a pet. And that’s not because they understand what’s happening and realize they’re being left out of all the fun, but just because they’ll be left behind for a while.

 

They’ll be left in some kind of pet-boarding location, which can be great for them but it’s not always an optimal environment for a pet, especially if it’s their first time, or with a pet-sitter which is probably a more desirable option but it still means they’ll be away from their family.

 

This can also make for a stressful time for the family itself. For one thing, most people don’t want to be separated from their pet but there’s also the likelihood that they’ll spend a lot of the vacation worrying about how their friend is doing instead of enjoying themselves.

 

And even leaving families out of the discussion here for a moment, even people who just like to travel on a regular basis will usually have to leave their pet behind. Travelling and pets are two of life’s great joys, it shouldn’t be so difficult to enjoy both should it?

 

And yet, a lot of people don’t consider the possibility of taking their pet with them, even if it is a journey that they can undertake by car. The perceived complications and hassle of taking the pet along are probably a big deterrent.

 

There’s also the fact that a lot of people might be concerned that the journey could be stressful or unsafe for a pet. Stuffing them up in the car for a number of hours does seem a little cruel on the surface.

 

But truth be told, it doesn’t have to be a terribly uncomfortable experience for your pet, nor does it have to be a terribly complicated one for you. There are ways to simplify the process of taking a pet on vacation with you.

 

If you take certain measures and effectively prepare for the journey and how you’re going to set everything up, then taking your pet travelling with you, shouldn’t be anywhere near as worrying as people think it is.

 

Here’s a few tips for taking your pet on vacation with you:

 

  1.   Microchip Them

 

Getting your pet microchipped is something that you should probably do anyway, regardless of whether or not you plan on taking them on vacation with you, but if you are going to travel with your dog it’s especially important.

 

Microchipping is not as invasive of a process as people think it is and it comes with too many benefits for you not to at least consider it. For one thing it will last a lifetime, so you never have to worry about getting it redone, but it also dramatically reduces the chances of losing your pet.

 

And if you’re taking them to a different city or even a different country, losing them would be catastrophic. Especially since they’ll be in an unfamiliar environment which makes the chances of them wandering off even higher.

 

No matter how careful you are, the possibility of your pet getting lost is always going to be there, and if you’ve got them microchipped then you will more than likely have them back before too long.

 

So make sure you take this step, it’s the most responsible choice if you plan on taking your pet travelling with you.

 

  1.   Have the Right Documentation

 

Just like you need a passport or a visa or whatever else is required to get into a different country or sometimes you even need certain documents when travelling within your own country, and it’s often the same for pets.

 

You will probably need a health certificate which confirms your pet isn’t running the risk of carrying any dangerous diseases into another place. So this will mean a trip to the vet before the journey.

 

And then if you’re travelling by air there’s definitely going to be some forms to fill out. Most of the time there will be some stuff that’s specific to the airline so contact whoever you’re flying with beforehand and they’ll refer you to the paperwork.

 

  1.   Prepare a Travelling Kit

 

There are certain essential things to bring along that your pet is going to need for the journey and once you get to the destination. You wouldn’t go on any kind of trip without bringing things you need and the same logic applies to a pet.

 

So think of all the stuff that a pet requires when you’re at home because it’s not quite as easy for them to acclimate to a slightly altered lifestyle in such a short space of time. The goal is to replicate their homelife as much as possible.

 

Your travelling kit for your pet should have food and water bowls, a scooper, some treats, your grooming supplies and then any medication that your pet needs and also bring a pet specific first-aid kit.

 

If they’re going to be in a travel crate, then make sure that it’s a spacious and comfortable one. Also, bring along a toy or two to keep your pet occupied during the journey and when you’re doing activities that they can’t join in on. 

 

I’d also suggest that, if you have space, you should bring a vacuum that is effective in getting rid of pet hair so that you don’t leave a mess in the place that you’re staying. This is just a courtesy you should try to offer.

 

  1.   Be Careful With Their Travelling Meals

 

Not a nice thing to have to think about here, but the last thing that you want to have to deal with when going on a long car journey is dog or cat vomit. Sorry for putting that image in your head but it’s a thing to think about.

 

Dogs are not as used to travelling in moving vehicles as we are and it can upset their stomachs. Of course, this does happen to humans too, but we can communicate the fact that we feel unwell and need to get out and throw up, an animal can’t do that.

 

To avoid this, feed your dog about three hours before the journey starts. You can take some long breaks of course and feed them again if it’s a particularly long journey, but don’t feed them in a moving vehicle. It’s a recipe for disaster.

 

  1.   Be Mindful of Accomodation

 

A lot of hotels will be open to guests bringing along dogs and cats, but ideally you should probably choose Airbnb or look for a house or apartment that you can rent. It’s better to have some private space.

 

That way you can be a little bit more comfortable about leaving the dog behind if you want to go out for a meal or something. But also, make sure that the pet policy actually allows for whatever breed you have.

 

And be sure to communicate with the host beforehand and have a discussion about what you’ll be bringing along with you. Even if they allow for pets, you want to make sure that the space is big enough and that there’s nothing that isn’t pet-friendly about the environment.

 

It would be advisable to research local vets in case of emergency as well as what stores are nearby in case you need something for your pet. 

 

There are a lot of things to think about when taking a pet travelling with you, but it’s definitely worth it if it means you can spare yourself the stress and anxiety involved with leaving a pet behind. And it will probably be an enjoyable experience for your dog too.

Summer travel trends and safety during COVID

By: Bankrate Staff

After several weeks hunkered down at home, a quick grocery store run is slightly exciting nowadays. As states phase in relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and the country slowly reopens, it’s hard to ignore the urge to get away – somewhere beyond the confines of your neighborhood.

From national parks and theme parks to hotels, restaurants and casinos –  the hospitality industry is taking serious steps to mitigate risk to their employees and guests. Disney World just announced their reopening July 11 with a litany of restrictions, like limiting the number of visitors, timed entry reservations, mandatory face masks, contactless payments, and temperature testing both guests and employees.

Even with restrictions and safety measures in place, you may wonder if traveling is worth the risk. While health officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of State’s Global Health Advisory advise against travel altogether, states that are opened for business, just in time for summer, are hoping people will choose to take advantage of deep discounts and cheap gas.

The latest statistics from GasBuddy suggest that some 31 percent of Americans are planning at least one road trip this summer. With gas below two dollars a gallon, it’s certainly tempting to take at least a day trip in the comfort and safety of your vehicle. And while there’s risk traveling during a pandemic, the rewards are enough to make many Americans venture out. So, if you plan on traveling this summer, here’s what to expect.

The travel and hospitality industry is going above and beyond to ensure your safety

“The whole industry is pivoting to a different way of operating,” says Dr. Donna Quadri-Felitti,  Marvin Ashner Director and Associate Professor at The Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management. “The hotel and restaurant industry is adapting their real estate for the needs of this crisis, to keep people safe.”

In early May, the American Hotel Lodging Association (AHLA) issued enhanced cleaning and safety guidelines. The “Stay Safe” initiative is focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices and will seek to change hotel industry norms, behaviors and standards to ensure both hotel guests and employees are confident in the cleanliness of hotels as travel resumes.

Dr. Quadri-Felitti says technology has played a huge role in helping the industry continue to operate under a ‘new normal.’ Contactless check-in/check-out, keyless room entry, touchless elevators, virtual TV remotes and social distancing apps are being deployed by hotels across the world to keep visitors safe and comfortable.

Bigger hotel brands are rolling out their own heightened safety protocols. Starting in June, Hilton Worldwide will launch its “CleanStay” program – implementing contactless technologies in addition to rigorous cleaning practices advised by medical experts from the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Response Team. Marriott International’s “Cleanliness Council” is testing ultraviolet light technology to sanitize guest keys and adding electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel.

“Cleanliness and security has always been part of the hospitality industry. We are well-versed at  being highly regulated, very well-trained and monitored –  COVID-19 is just taking it to the next level. It’s business imperative that we don’t just meet CDC standards, but exceed them,” says Quadri-Felitti.

Rental properties

Like traditional hotels, person-to-person home rental companies like AirBnB and Vrbo have updated their guidelines around cleaning. AirBnB updated their cleaning requirements for hosts to include new procedures such as wearing a mask and gloves when cleaning, wiping services with disinfectants made of bleach or 70% isopropyl alcohol in addition to traditional soaps, washing all linens in hot water, emptying vacuum after each use and more.

Vrbo also adapted their cleaning practices to the new reality of COVID-19. Their guidelines include focusing on high traffic areas of the rental when cleaning, and letting the property remain empty for at least 24-hours after a renter leaves.

Air travel takes a back seat to road trips 

Whether you’re planning an in-state day trip or a week-long getaway to a mountain rental, road travel provides flexibility and offers a safer, more isolated environment that airlines can’t compete with. And how you get there is just as important as your destination. Road warriors are looking for more inclusive travel and are turning to recreational vehicles and the great outdoors to distance themselves from others and commune with nature.

Self-contained travel 

If spending the night in a hotel or property rental is not your preference – recreational vehicles that offer self-contained travel are increasingly popular. RVshare, a rental marketplace similar to Airbnb, just announced they hit record numbers with a 650% rise in RV rental bookings since early April 2020.

Self-contained RVs provide transportation, accommodation, and a place to cook all in one – allowing travelers to better control their social distance. RV parks and private campground owners are preparing safety processes similar to hotels with specific plans for cleaning, disinfecting and maintaining distancing.

Wellness and wide-open spaces 

Naturally in a pandemic, people look for destinations that offer plenty of room to roam and less interaction with others. With many national parks set to reopen, parks staff, small business staff and owners are preparing for the surge of visitors itching to get outdoors.

Kara Maceross, program manager and guide for Lasting Adventures, a travel service that offers everything from day hikes, backpacking trips and summer camps in Yosemite National Park, started working last week and says business is already picking up. “We’re seeing way more bookings than we thought we would. People want to get out, and parents want their kids to enjoy the summer after months of being cooped up.”

Yosemite hasn’t officially opened (at the time of publication), but when it does, there will be fewer visitors and more restrictions. Visitor capacity will be reduced by about 50 percent to promote social distancing, and day visitors will be required to register for a pass to reserve entrance ahead of time through recreation.gov. Yosemite is one of the country’s most visited national parks, hosting more than 4.5 million travelers in 2019.

Maceross says that besides limiting travel groups to 10 members, they’re also temperature screening employees and camp visitors while implementing strict cleaning procedures for equipment coming back from excursions.

“Sanitizing gear, washing hands more frequently, wearing masks when welcoming guests, and coming up with team-building activities that require no contact is all part of the new norm.”

Advanced planning is required

However you travel, it’s imperative to plan ahead. That means getting more information directly from the hotel or rental property and double-checking your destination’s rules before hitting the road. State, county and even town safety restrictions can change in an instant if COVID hot spots flare up, so frequent checks until the day you leave will help you make an informed decision on whether travel is safe or not.

Be prepared for check-ins and quarantines

If you’re traveling from hot spots like New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Connecticut, you may be required to quarantine for 14 days. Some states are installing checkpoints and requiring identification and address where visitors will be in quarantine.  Health care officials may also pay a visit at the address given for a health check. It’s a good idea to avoid states with quarantine restrictions if you want to explore the sights and sounds. The CDC has a website where you can check the current rules by state.

Cancellation policies 

Fortunately, cancellation policies are currently more generous than before. However, refunds and credits are up to the hotel, tour operator or travel business. Hotels typically allow cancellations up to 24 hours in advance, but rentals aren’t as lenient. Before booking travel, understand the cancellation policies in relation to state and local laws. Incentives to re-book rather than cancel are being offered by travel companies, airlines and cruise lines.

How your credit card can help you save on your road trip

As you make your travel plans, consider how you can strategically use your credit card to maximize your budget on the road. Credit cards that offer rewards on gas purchases can put cash back in your pocket on purchases you were already planning to make.

 

Eco-Friendly Beauty: Zero Waste Beauty Routine When Traveling

By: Helen Bradford

Are you one of those people who can’t wait to pack their bags and head off someplace new? People who love to travel (sail, fly, camp, backpack, and have road trips) know the importance of proper packing.

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It seems like experienced travelers can fit their entire house into a small backpack, and even when they only carry a small suitcase, they have everything they could possibly need at hand, beauty products included. If you’re striving towards zero waste beauty routine and re worried about how to achieve it while traveling, here’s how you can do it:

Soap and shampoo bars

Shampoo bottles are notorious for randomly exploding and leaking content everywhere in people’s suitcases, especially on long flights. This is why you’re advised to place a plastic bag under the cap or pack your shampoo bottle in a Ziploc bag in case it leaks. Well, with eco-friendly soap and shampoo bars, that can’t happen. Not only are these easier to pack in your bag, but they will also never ever leak (because they’re not liquid), and there aren’t plastic bottles and containers that will pollute the oceans.

There are even shampoo and conditioner bars combined that you can use and save loads of space in your bathroom and your luggage.

Switch to reusable cotton pads

We use cotton pads for removing our makeup and nail polish and for applying and distributing cleansing products on our faces. We use them so often and so much that we rarely stop and think how much wasted cotton that is. Makeup-removing wet wipes are handy, but they contain traces of plastic and take forever to degrade, thus polluting the Earth even further. These are just some of the reasons why you should think about using reusable cotton pads and washcloths instead. These can be used over and over, and once you wash them on high temperatures, they’ll be as good as new. You can keep your reusable cotton pads in a traveling bag, and have another one for used ones, and you won’t have to buy new packs every time you travel somewhere.

Always use natural makeup

Finding makeup brands and products that you like and that are great for your skin takes time, but you should really try to find and buy natural makeup that works for you. You might not always be able to find travel-sized lipstick and eye shadow, but you should at least know that the products you are using are natural and good for your skin and the environment. Also, you don’t always have to carry your big bottle of foundation when you travel: you can pour a bit into a smaller container and pack it in your bag, and wash the container when you get home so that you can use it again next time you go somewhere.

Go plastic-free

We already mentioned soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars and how great these are for reducing the amount of plastic that you buy, but there are more ways you can do this. There are amazing bamboo toothbrushes on the market that you can use instead of regular plastic ones, and seeing as it’s advised that you change your toothbrush every few months, this is a serious change. There is also plastic-free floss that you can switch to instead of a regular one (you won’t even notice the difference). In the end, we would like to mention that menstrual cups are a better choice for your budget, your body, and the environment too, so you might want to think about using them in the future as well.

Use coconut oil

Coconut oil is a God-given beauty ingredient everyone can use and benefit from. It’s great for moisturizing your skin, combining with granulated sugar to create a nice exfoliating paste, using on your hair, and also for removing your makeup. Coconut oil can be found cheap if you decide to buy a bigger jar, and you can always put some of it in a smaller jar or a container and take it with you when you go on a trip. Because there are so many different brands of coconut oil out there, try to find one that’s certified as organic and raw. Some brands even stick to coconuts that are grown on small farms and plant palm trees as a way to “pay Nature back.”

The zero-waste movement has made a great impact not only on the environment but also on the way we look at the world. So many of us have changed our routines and adopted some healthy habits and routines that have made both the world and our lives much better. If you don’t want to change your beauty routine while traveling, try to find ways to adapt it so that you can stick with it no matter where you are and the way you are getting there. Your skin will be grateful and you will make a huge difference.

 

 

Natural Ways to Clean Your Teeth and Gums

By: Mia Johnson

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Taking care of your oral hygiene is just as important as taking care of your hygiene in general. Even though dentist appointments are one of the most uncomfortable ones and most people feel like their mouth can take care of itself, leaving your health up to chance is never a good idea. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so take care of your oral cavity in order to avoid some serious consequences. You can clean your teeth naturally to avoid constant exposure to chemicals but still kill bacteria.

1. Orange peels

Orange is a fruit famous for its vitamins and deliciousness. Aside from just being used as a tasty treat or snack, oranges can also help you maintain your oral hygiene and clean your teeth and gums naturally. You’ll need orange peels for this. By far, this is one of the most comfortable ways to clean your teeth as it doesn’t involve putting anything most people consider “icky” near your mouth.

You can apply the orange peel directly to your teeth and gently rub it against the surface. If this doesn’t appeal to you, simply mash up the peel and apply it to the areas of your teeth where you notice staining. Note that it may take some time to thoroughly mash the peel. Make sure to leave the peel on for a little before rinsing it out for the best effects.

This will help eliminate bacteria and microorganisms which nest on the enamel of the teeth. After using the solution regularly, your teeth will be significantly whiter.

2. Glycerin & Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is known for its soothing and rejuvenating effects on the skin, but can also be very useful for your teeth. It’s basically the perfect solution for keeping your teeth free of plaque. All you need is a teaspoon of aloe vera gel, half a cup of baking soda, and a cup of water. Lemon essential oil and vegetable glycerin should also make it into the mix. Voila! You’ve got your own natural toothpaste.

Use it just like you would use the traditional toothpaste you buy at the store. If the solution is too aggressive for you, add a bit less baking soda and see how you feel. You can also use essential oils other than lemon, but this flavour tends to work best for toothpaste purposes. Soon enough, your teeth will be whiter than you ever thought they could be with natural toothpaste.

3. Salt water treatment

To keep your gums clean and kill bacteria which causes gingivitis, you should rinse your mouth with salted water twice a day. Avoiding and treating gum disease is very important because it can lead to more serious diseases, tooth decay, and teeth falling out if it’s not handled in time. The benefits of salt water include reducing bacteria and getting rid of bad breath, as well as helping to remove particles of food which are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

If you already suspect you’re suffering from gingivitis, you’ll be happy to know that salt water can also help ease the pain as well as soothe your inflamed gums. The solution should work fine and take care of your problem, but it’s always a good idea to visit the dentist if you notice the problem persists.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda is the ultimate cleaning product for everything from bathrooms to your teeth. When using baking soda to clean your teeth and whiten them, you have to be very careful about how much you use and how often you use it. This is because baking soda tends to be a little more aggressive than necessary. It might pry off the plaque you’ve been struggling with, but it may also be abrasive to your teeth and get some enamel off.

This can make your teeth softer and more vulnerable to disease and falling out. To prevent this, be gentle with how you used baking soda and mix it with other substances. You basically just need a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of baking soda. Dip the solution under the faucet and clean your teeth just like you would with normal toothpaste. Make sure to rinse thoroughly.

Conclusion

As you can see, cleaning your teeth and gums can happen in more ways than one. You can rely on natural solutions to keep up your hygiene, but this definitely isn’t a replacement for your regular dental checkups. These natural ways will help you feel fresh and keep your mouth bacteria-free. We’re confident you’ll get that radiant smile you were hoping for and that you’ll greatly improve your life by staying healthy.

The Ultimate Guide to Green Travel for 2020

You’ve hopped out of the car and you’re ready to start an adventure in a brand new city. The intriguing place warmly welcomes you to explore and discover its offerings — it’s only right to respect it as if it were your own home.

Younger generations want to change the way we travel. In fact, 56% of Gen Z says they would enjoy staying in eco-friendly accommodations. They’re passionate about putting a spin on the golden rule — treat all places the way you want your home to be treated. Green travel is a hot trend you can’t skip out on. It’s rad to consider the wellbeing of Mother Earth and other cultures as part of your travel habits. Follow our extensive guide to start incorporating green travel into your itinerary.

What Is Green Travel?

Also known as “sustainable travel” or “eco-friendly travel,” green travel refers to practicing responsible and sustainable travel habits. Green travel involves staying conscious of your impact on the environment, social livelihood and economic well-being of the destinations you visit. Since traveling takes a toll on the places we explore, strive to minimize your carbon footprint and respect other cultures.

With green travel, you’ll find purpose in each milestone of your journey.

Why Is Green Travel Important?

With global travel becoming more accessible for everyone, carbon and other chemical pollution is increasing.

green travel statistics

In a recent study covering carbon emissions, it was found that 8% of emissions is directly caused by global tourism. This number isn’t predicted to plateau — in fact, it’s predicted to increase annually by 4%. The largest contributors to carbon emissions are transportation, shopping and food — all travel practices you can change to have a positive impact.

You often hear about carbon emissions, but do you know the effects on the environment? Carbon monoxide increases greenhouse gases, which are linked to negative health effects (such as chest pain, heart disease and grogginess) and global warming. Global warming negatively impacts ecosystems, increasing storm activity and harming natural habitats as a result.

Physical Impacts

There are physical impacts of tourism as well. One major tourist activity that destroys natural habitats is cruises. There are 109 countries with coral reefs and in 90 of them, reefs are being destroyed by cruise ship anchors, sewage, tourist activities, and use of reefs in commercial sale. Reefs are important to ecosystems since they serve as breeding and feeding grounds for many marine life species. Without reefs, the livelihoods of people in entire countries would disappear since marine life (that lives off reefs’ offerings) is a staple to their country’s diets and occupations.

If you’re planning to go on a cruise, keep in mind that Caribbean cruises are estimated to produce over 70,000 tons of waste per year. Cruise ships are not required to report the waste they dump in the ocean or even require a permit to do so. Much of this waste is found in natural habitats. Not all waste decomposes, and when it rots, it releases methane gas into the air, which contributes to the greenhouse effect — making the planet hotter.

Consider alternatives to hotels when booking travel. Hotel chains are powerhouses for unnecessarily using up water, producing excessive waste and practicing business inefficiently. In some countries, guests can use 10 times as much water as a local resident daily. Plus, hotels are estimated to use 36,500 to 73,000 gallons of water per room annually.

Observing the consequences of tourism will open your mind to green travel and motivate you to think twice about your tourism habits. We highly encourage you to research the effects of your travel plans.

When Does a Company Offer Eco-Friendly Options?

Create your itinerary with eco-friendly options. If you’re not sure what to look for, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. We’ve listed below some of the major certifications to guarantee you’re traveling green.

  • LEED certification: One of the best certifications for estimating how environmentally friendly your hotel is.
  • International Air Transport Association: Offers carbon offset flight options which help passengers neutralize their portion of a plane’s carbon emissions.
  • Green Globe certification: Awarded to any eco-friendly business across all industries. The standard criteria must match their expectations in categories such as sustainability, as well as social, economic and environmental practices.
  • Rainforest Alliance: Awarded to tourism businesses that conduct services in compliance with sustainable practices.
  • EarthCheck (AUS): A similar certification to the one above, EarthCheck ensures a business is “delivering clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travelers to visit.”
  • Tourism Cares: Their mission is to assist the travel industry’s social impact to help the cultures of heavily traveled destinations thrive.
  • Green Seal: Provides a certification denoting that the product or service is created or conducted via safe, green practices.

Green Transportation Tips

Transportation is the number one contributor to carbon pollution while traveling. Minimize emissions by thinking twice about your transportation plans.

people talking about eco-friendly transportation

  1. Travel in groups. If you plan on meeting others, see if there is a way to travel together. You’ll use less gas while also creating memories with others. The more the merrier, for you and the planet!
  2. Book non-stop flights. Revving up and slowing down the engines creates the most carbon emissions.
  3. Rent hybrid or electric vehicles. Feel less guilty and decrease your emissions by renting an electric vehicle instead! A typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  4. Use electronic tickets. This is a win-win all around because you’ll have less to carry and you’ll produce less waste. Paper represents 16% of solid landfill waste in the US.
  5. Research before you travel. Educate yourself on the culture you’ll be visiting because green travel requires traveling responsibly. Treat another person’s home like your own. Research what you can do to bring a positive change to the new environment.
  6. Avoid traffic-filled cities. Traffic increases fuel consumption and carbon emissions. There is also increased exposure to harmful gasses for those stuck in traffic.

Tips for Practicing Green Habits at Hotels

It’s easy to pick up a vacation mentality and let go of all responsibilities. We encourage you to relax but also be mindful of how your actions affect the places you visit.

hotel recycling

  1. Stay at local bed and breakfast establishments. Local hospitality produces much less waste than a hotel chain. Plus, you’ll support the local economy versus a global corporation.
  2. Ask the front desk about the hotel’s recycling program. Make sure you recycle properly by knowing the hotel’s recycling process. If the hotel hasn’t established a program yet, encourage them to do so.
  3. Bring your own toiletries. Some hotel chains throw away single-use toiletries after one guest. In case you forget to bring your own, take home the shampoo and conditioner bottles to use on your next trip.
  4. Leave guide books you collect for future guests. As we mentioned before, paper is a huge contributor to solid waste. If you find an interesting guide, leave it for the next guest to use.
  5. Stay conscious of A/C or heater use. Residential air-conditioners alone release 100 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from using up energy and releasing hot air.
  6. Unplug appliances when not in use. All plugged in electric appliances bleed some energy called “standby” electricity loss. This includes chargers, wireless phones, cable boxes, kitchen appliances, etc.
  7. Opt-out of cleaning services. Leave the “do not disturb” sign on your door. Skipping cleaning services avoids using unnecessary energy by passing on rewashing your sheets and vacuuming. Plus it cuts chemical cleansing agents that negatively impact air quality.

Water-Saving Travel Tips

Water seems to magically appear from faucets, but when you look behind the scenes, you realize the amount of energy water uses to arrive at your faucet. If your personal water usage is excessive, it affects the 663 million people who don’t have access to clean, reliable water.

people getting clean water

  1. Avoid using the hotel’s laundry facilities. Hotels wash every guest’s laundry separately and a typical washer uses anywhere from 15 to 45 gallons per load.
  2. Stick to showers. Showers take ~17 gallons of water per use, whereas baths use a whopping 70 gallons of water.
  3. Hang up your towels to signal you’re reusing them. As we mentioned, hotels wash guest’s laundry separately. Signal you’re still using your towels by hanging them up. You don’t wash your towel after every shower at home, so why would it be different in a hotel?
  4. Carry a reusable water bottle. You won’t waste water and you’ll avoid unnecessary plastic use. 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded every second in the US.
  5. Only flush the toilet for business. Some of us have a bad habit of flushing tissues and other small trash items down the toilet. Flushing uses two to seven gallons of water at a time.
  6. When using the sink, don’t use high pressure. Avoid turning the sink knob all the way up and don’t leave it running while grooming.
  7. Go for seconds instead of piling up your plate. Food waste is the number one contributor to water waste in hotels. Rather than fill up your plate only to realize you’re too full, take smaller amounts and go for seconds as needed. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the water used globally.

Tips for Shopping + Eating More Sustainably

Waste affects people and the environment. Hazardous waste takes a toll on human health and exhibits ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity towards the environment. By shopping and eating with an eco-conscious mentality, you can combat the negative effects of waste.

scuba diver in polluted ocean

  1. Shop at local farmer’s markets. Supporting the local economy encourages gratitude for the new culture you’re visiting. This provides jobs for and feeds local residents.
  2. Eat at locally-sourced restaurants. You’ll be eating healthier at locally sourced restaurants and restaurants that source their ingredients responsibly use less waste in the process.
  3. Avoid all plastic wrappers, bags and bottles. Pack a reusable shopping bag and avoid other plastic wrappers by bringing reusable packaging. Plastic pollution affects the land, waterways and oceans. Plus, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled.
  4. Cook your own road trip meals. You’ll be eating cleaner for your gut and the environment by cooking for yourself. An average restaurant produces 100,000 pounds of garbage per year.
  5. Avoid purchasing items that are made from or tested on animals. This is immoral and takes a toll on wildlife. Look for the phrase “This product has not been tested on animals” along the product to check or research the product to double check.
  6. Learn what labels to look for. When shopping, spot the certifications that indicate a product was responsibly made. Research before your travels what common responsible green certifications look like in the city you’re about to visit.

Eco-Friendly Activity Tips

We recommend eco-friendly activities in nature. Being in nature has benefits such as reduced anger, fear and stress. Getting outdoors is good for Mother Nature and your mental health.

woman selling sustainable products

  1. Skip commercialized tour companies. Mass tours are usually conducted irresponsibly and without a green travel mentality. It’s estimated that only 5% of a commercialized tour company’s profit goes back to the local city. There are tours that act eco-consciously. Community-based tourism is the most sustainable.
  2. Be mindful when booking hands-on encounters with wild animals. Some of this industry takes part in illegal captures and doesn’t properly care for wild animals.
  3. Scuba dive with operators that don’t chum the water. Chumming the water involves dumping bait in the waters to attract fish — this changes the behavior of marine animals, leading them to feel sick.
  4. #OptOutside. Discovering the great outdoors in a new place is the best way to show your appreciation and avoid unnecessary energy and waste. Check for nearby hot springs or waterfalls to refresh your mind.
  5. Stay on the path. Trampling causes loss of ground cover, decrease in air and water permeability, loss of biodiversity and other negative impacts.
  6. Volunteer locally. Leave where you travel in a better state than when you arrived. Whether this involves assisting those in need or cleaning up the environment, you’ll leave a positive and lasting impact.
  7. Use eco-friendly sunscreens. Regular sunscreens contain toxic and potent chemicals that rub off when swimming, affecting ocean wildlife and natural habitats.

Certified Eco-Friendly Travel Resources

If you’re looking to book a trip soon, we encourage you to use the resources below to create your travel itinerary. You’ll do the world and yourself a favor.

Additional Green Travel Resources

Remember the golden rule of green travel — treat all destinations the way you want your home to be treated. Green travel means staying conscious of your decisions on the go and acting in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible manner in the communities you visit. With tweaks to your regular travel routine, you’ll be traveling green in no time.

We hope this guide motivates you to complete your civic duty as a guest in a new city — and gives you peace of mind when renting a car in your destination.