green traveler seeking blue bin

Vacation.  It should be a time of relaxation right?  Then why am I more stressed about this coming trip than any I have ever taken?  And I’m not talking about what to wear or what we’ll do.  I’m thinking more about what we need to pack.  On the way home.

I have become more aware of my impact on the planet and how to reduce it.  This is a good thing.  And in my nice, tidy little world I have quite a bit of control over it.  All my control is gone when I travel.  Okay, not all.  But enough that it makes me anxious.  I feel like I need to pack an extra large suitcase so I can bring back all of our cans, bottles and papers that won’t get recycled depending on where we are.  Crazy, I know.  But once I buy something I feel like I’m responsible for it, including it’s proper disposal.

This weekend we are headed to Portland.  It’s one of the most environmentally aware cities in the country.  I have high hopes that we won’t see as much plastic and waste.  But I’m also realistic.

So, do I take that extra suitcase or just live with the guilt that I can’t be responsible for everything everywhere?

Here are some tips I found.  They don’t answer my questions but they are good to keep in mind.

  • Along with your cutest sundress, flip-flops and biodegradable sunscreen (it’s Portland, we won’t need any of these things – unfortunately), remember to include a reusable water bottle, a to-go mug for your morning coffee and a reusable shopping bag.  I already carry my own water bottle, but I like the idea of my coffee mug too.
  • You may be able to find recycling at rest areas so bring along extra bags to sort these in the car.  This doesn’t really apply to an air travel trip, but will still be on the look-out for blue bins wherever we are.
  • If you get to the beach and you find that you’ve forgotten to bring along a volleyball, look for a store that specializes in used equipment. With any luck you can sell it right back to them at the end of your stay.  I think this is an untapped business idea.  I can just see equipment stands every half mile down the beach like the lifeguard stations.
  • Ask ahead before booking at a campground or hotel about their recycling capabilities.  I didn’t do it ahead of time but I will definitely be asking when we check into our hotel.
  • Bring your own toiletries in reusable containers rather than using then tossing the mini shampoos that hotels provide.  This one gets mixed reviews.  It’s a good idea, but those hotel containers also become the travel toiletries for all the husband’s business travel. So bringing them home is almost like recycling.

There you have it.  I’ll be precycling what I can, checking out the local thrift stores as part of our entertainment and maybe even get in a Zip Car ride while there.

I guess I should just relax and enjoy the ride.

♦ ♦ ♦

On a completely different green note, I’ll leave you with this.  It has nothing to do with travel, I just thought it was a great idea.


low-maintenance idea for adding a touch of green: succulents in cordial glasses

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3 Comments to “green traveler seeking blue bin”

  1. Sometimes I read your posts I think – holy shit, I am a derelict and environment abuser! But since I know you, I think I should be credited, like with the whole carbon footprint thing.

    I have to admit that my favorite part of staying at hotels is the toiletries! And it saves time for me going through security if I don’t have to show them 17 little containers of liquid.

    I do really like the use of the cordials!

    Have a safe and relaxing trip. Look forward to hearing about it on the flip side.

  2. Are Zipcars really green? I know this was not the point of your article and I must admit, I am late in learning about Zipcars or Flexcars. Funny that renting a room by the hour is sinister, but renting a car by the hour is enlighted.

    Anyway, I’ve noticed that Zipcar is promoting their cars a “good for the planet” because it takes cars off the road. When I do the math, I see them actually adding cars to the road. That’s because if you drive every day, it will cost about $600-$700/month for an inexpensive low MPG car (purchase amortization, fuel, insurance, maintenance, etc.). At $60/day the zipcar would cost $1500-$1800/month. So the Zipcar is definately for occasional drivers. This is to Zipcar’s own admission and they also say their cars are more popular to customers who live in urban settings.

    Soooooooo, if it’s not for every day drivers and it is primarly targeted for urban dwellers, then it is putting a car on the road for 3 to 5 occasional drivers who otherwise would have taken a taxi (that is already on the road) or public transportation…which is actually the green option.

  3. James, I am by no means an expert on the subject. I merely found it an interesting and positive option and wanted to pass it along.

    That being said, in my opinion, Zipcars are not being promoted necessarily to redirect people who take public transportation but as a way to say to car owners “if you don’t drive every day, get rid of your car and consider us”. A taxi or bus is perhaps not the best option when making a trip to Home Depot or for a large grocery run.

    I read of a woman who rented several cars for her and her friends (none of whom owned cars), so they could do a scavenger hunt throughout the city as part of a birthday surprise. Not as green as a scavenger hunt in the house or neighborhood? Perhaps, but what a wonderful day they had.

    You’re right, it’s not for the every day driver. And it’s not for those who can use taxis and public transportation to meet there needs. I do believe there is a big gap in between that could be met with this alternative though. If that’s not correct they won’t be around long to worry about anyway.

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