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The Seasoned Traveler: In honor of Earth Day, why not travel green?

Created date

March 30th, 2009
April 22, 2009, is Earth Day. What started in 1970 as a national event celebrated by 20 million Americans is now a part of the global environmental movement. Today s consumers have the ability to make choices that can impact the planet in virtually every way. How they live, how they eat, what they do for a living, and even how they travel. For people who want to keep their impact on the planet to a minimum, seeking out green travel options has never been easier thanks to the work of Patricia Griffin, president and founder of the Green Hotels Association. Green hotels By now, practically every traveler has seen those ubiquitous cards suggesting they reuse their hotel towels and sheets to help save energy and water. That wasn t the case back in 1993, when Griffin started the Green Hotels Association. Traveling in Germany, she was impressed by a hook in the hotel bathroom so she could dry out her towel. Griffin brought the idea home with her by creating the Green Hotels Association and started to promote reusing sheets and towels to America s innkeepers. What was a difficult concept to sell back in 1993 is today a standard operating procedure in many if not most American hotels. Green hotels are some of the same big name hotel chains you usually stay at; Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, and others all have properties that are designated green. Even budget chains like Super 8 and Red Roof Inns have green properties. Eco-friendly in degrees While all of these chains are making a concerted effort to be more eco-friendly, it s important to note that not all of their hotels are green. Each property is different. To find which lodging options are green in the city you re traveling to, check out the Green Hotels Association website ( Here, you will find a state-by-state listing of hotels that meet the association s standards. Beyond that, check with a hotel directly. It may be an eco-friendly establishment that just doesn t belong to an established group. If it s not an eco-friendly establishment, chances are your inquiry will make the hotel s management acutely aware that consumers like you prefer to stay in lodging that is eco-friendly. Green s impact on your stay So what is staying in a green hotel like? Beyond the towel and sheet program, green hotels use compact fluorescent lightbulbs, recycled paper products, ' nontoxic cleaning products, and Energy Star electronics. The key to green lodging is that the eco-friendly practices shouldn t negatively impact the quality of your stay. I ve always seen staying in a hotel as a treat, Griffin says. Traveling green is one way for everyone to protect the fabulous destinations that we all want to visit.