With the unofficial end to summer occurring the day many of us are traveling for our last long weekend of the year, we here at TriplePundit thought we’d help end your Labor Day weekend with some updates in the world of sustainable travel.
In case you missed it, Marriott International announced last week that it will eliminate those nifty travel sized bottles of toiletries from its hotel rooms by the end of 2020. That news came after the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which includes chains such as Holiday Inn and the boutique Kimpton Hotels, said they would also nix those goodies before 2022. Many of these hotels branded as Marriott or IHG have already done so, motivated by either costs or a commitment to sustainability. So, get used to seeing large refillable bottles atop the bathroom counter and in the shower caddies. And no, those big bottles are not to be taken home (we know, it’s tempting).
Not everyone is impressed with these hotel chains’ moves.
“Even if replacing miniature toiletries does reduce waste somewhat—as other hotel chains join the movement and California moves to ban them—a transition to bulk products will barely put a dent in the plastic waste that now clogs the planet’s rivers and oceans,” wrote Yossi Sheffi for Quartz. “It is another ‘feel good’ initiative which help avoid the move to more serious actions that can actually make a difference.”
Sheffi has a point, but again, these decisions are all about scale – if more hotel and hospitality companies do the same, all of us travelers will get used to the “new normal” of not being able to swipe those mini-toiletries during the first five minutes after checking into our hotel rooms. This is an action that won’t hurt and at a minimum, can help prevent some single-use plastics from entering our waterways.
For many of us, Instagram is a safe zone in the world of social media. You generally don’t have the level of trolling on Twitter or the annoyance of those fourth cousins of yours on Facebook. But sometimes, too much of a good thing can harm the environment – as in geotagging your selfie.
The travel company G Adventures brings up the point that at times, geotagging a fabulous spot may cause more problems than a previously untouched corner of the earth can handle. Citing an example of a location in one of Wyoming’s national parks, G Adventures' blog noted, “It only takes one viral picture to spark a trend that results in greater human footfall than nature can handle. Thousands of travelers lining up to take the exact same picture can desecrate and forever destroy the planet’s most beautiful landscapes.”
Similar rules apply when it comes to taking pictures of kids you don’t know, culturally sensitive sites, animals, fashion choices (remember your incident in Abu Dhabi, Rihanna?) and of course, those selfies in dangerous locations.
If you’re currently in the market for an electric vehicle, as I currently am (Kelley Blue Book has never seen so much love in its existence), there’s always that nagging question: what if I want to go on a road trip or away for the weekend? Yes, it’s true most of our driving is around town – but there are some of us who’ll be happy if we never have to visit a gas station or rent a car again. Well, apparently more electric vehicle charging stations are coming to the Trans-Canada Highway – in Saskatchewan! Come on . . . if they can build them in Saskatchewan, they can build them anywhere. After all, the entire province has about five people per square mile, compared to 13,590 people per square mile in Vancouver, Canada’s most densely populated city.
Forbes recently noted that the U.S. now has over 24,000 vegan-friendly restaurants in the U.S., and almost 1,500 exclusively across the country. And no, they just aren’t located in the usual suspects like California, New York, Austin and Seattle. Whether you are flexitarian or strictly vegan, Happy Cow is among several web sites and apps that can help you find the right place to nosh if you happen to get famished. If Forbes is applauding this trend, you can rest assured this isn’t some passing fad! Unlike a decade ago, if you are determined to avoid animal products during your travel, you’re no longer relegated to French fries or the salad bar.
For those of us that remember suitcases with only a handle, (or heaven forbid, garment bags) those lightweight rollaway travelers with wheels and backpacks that can scrunch into a something the size of your fist were a godsend. Well, travel bags are becoming more sustainable. Patagonia, for example, said it recently consumed 10 million plastic bottles for its latest line of duffel bags. We showcase a few more ideas here.
Labor Day road trips, or any trip with your dog, can be rewarding, especially if he or she is part of a photo shoot at one of the U.S. national parks (as Whiskey, in the photo above, experienced yesterday at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park). But traveling responsibly with your dog involves common sense, advance planning and awareness about some sensitivities of the local environment. Most National Park Service (NPS) locations welcome dogs (and cats) within developed areas and campgrounds – but for obvious reasons, not on most hiking trails. The NPS hosts a great site of suggestions, no-no’s and updates on pet policies.
Happy road tripping, and travel safe!
Image credit: Leon Kaye
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.