Think “green” when planning your next trip.

While traveling for business or pleasure try to minimize your impact on the environment.

Whether you are traveling to a conference, an important meeting, island retreat, or an amusement park, you can be conscious of your impact on the environment. Here are some green traveling tips to help you have a fun and eco-friendly trip.

Planning your trip:

Look for hotel accommodations and tours that carry environmental-friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations – such as Green Seal or Green Leaf.

Several organizations have developed standards to measure the environmental initiatives of hotels and tours. Standards vary depending on the organization; however, green hotels and tours include reducing energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, instituting recycling programs, conserving water either through the installation of energy star products or by asking patrons to reuse towels and by purchasing local organic foods. When hotels and tours meet these standards, they are certified as “green.”

Select a hotel close to public transportation or near the places you are going to visit during your stay.

When flying, book electronic tickets. It reduces paper waste and you are less likely to lose your ticket.

Before you go:

Pull the plug on any unnecessary appliances – such TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters, and microwaves. These items can still use energy in their off mode.

Set your thermostat and water heater at low settings so that energy isn’t wasted while you are gone.

Stop your newspaper or donate the paper to a school while you are gone.

When you’re there:

If the hotel has an environmental program, participate as much as possible. If you have any questions about how simply ask when you check-in.

Never leave lights on when you are not in the room.

Lower the thermostat when you leave the room for long periods of time.

If your destination is a warm climate then close the drapes. Or, if you have Venetian blinds, angle them up to bounce the sunlight off the ceiling. This will keep the room cooler. Conversely, let the sun warm up your room during the day if you are in a cooler climate.

Leave unopened shampoo, soap, and other items in the hotel unless you are taking it home to use.

Avoid room service and carry-out which increases waste.

Use water sparingly. In some places, this is a very scarce resource.

Never buy items made from endangered species.

Walk or use public transportation.

Grab only the maps and brochures that you will actually use. If you are in a large group, share brochures whenever possible.

Take pictures and leave the location as you found it. Never remove wildlife from its natural environment including shells, flowers, and coral.

When hiking or camping, stay only in marked areas to avoid destroying vegetation.

Buy locally produced products in order to reduce the pollution required to import goods.

When you come home:

Write a letter or email to your hotel or tour guide telling them that you appreciate their efforts to minimize the impact on the environment. This will encourage them to promote and institute more environmentally friendly activities.