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.

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!