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Traveling Green: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In today’s day and age, it’s more important than ever to reduce, reuse, and recycle, especially when traveling. From the flight you book to the the toiletries you pack, every travel decision you make impacts the environment. From unplugging appliances at home to opting out of plastic straws, here’s how to reduce your footprint when traveling to Charleston.
Before You Leave
Your travel footprint doesn’t just begin the moment you board your flight, rather, it all starts before you ever leave your home. Before leaving your house, make sure to adjust the thermostat accordingly to the season. The United States Department of Energy suggests setting the thermostat to 85°F in the summer and to 50°F in winter to avoid cooling or heating an empty home. If you own a smart thermostat, simply set it to away mode and you’re set!
Did you ever think your parents were crazy for unplugging the toaster before leaving for a trip? They may have been on to something! Unplugging electronics and appliances are an excellent way to conserve unused energy. Known as “energy vampires,” TVs, computers and coffeemakers are consuming energy even when turned off. Vampire appliances can account for as much as 20% of your monthly electricity bill, so it’s important to consider unplugging these types of appliances even when you’re not traveling.
Before you leave, make sure to close the curtains on your windows. This will help to keep drafts out during the winter and the sun from heating your home will you’re away in the summer months.
In general, tourists tend to consume more than locals, especially in terms of disposable items. Buck the norm by utilizing reusable items such as reusable toiletry containers, water bottles, and foldable straws, if you prefer using one. Here in Charleston, many restaurants have embraced the strawless trend to help prevent extra plastic waste from being introduced into our environment and causing harm to the many wonderful species of animals, particularly sea turtles, that call Charleston home. Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Take yourself out of the equation by bringing your own reusable straw or going without!
To Fly or Drive?
When analyzing the most environmentally conscientious way to travel, much can depend on how many people you’re traveling with. In general, the fuel efficiency of a car is about the same as flying on a plane. Driving becomes the ideal option and makes better sense if traveling with three or more in a car. When you’re on a plane, you’re sharing the environmental impact with many to offset the plane’s higher fuel consumption. So flying is typically the less impactful mode if traveling solo. One way to make sure you help contribute to a lower carbon footprint when flying is to fly coach, pick a direct flight, and pack light.
If you do fly, not all airlines are created equal! Jet fuel is the biggest contributor to a plane’s carbon emissions and airlines are always searching for new ways to use less energy. So which domestic airlines offer the most fuel efficiency? Alaska, Frontier, and Spirit are the winners!
Leave No Trace
While we know you’ll enjoy a fantastic vacation to Charleston, there are a few tips to help keep the lowcountry looking fantastic. When spending the day on the beach, use reef-safe sunscreen when playing in the water as some chemicals in SPFs can cause coral bleaching. Even more importantly, pack up your trash and dispose of it properly. If using plastics, make sure you dispose of it in the trashcans located on the beach or at your vacation rental. Every year millions of plastic bags, straws, and bottles wind up in the oceans and can be lethal to marine life.
When visiting our historic downtown area, try and go car free! After parking in one of the many parking decks throughout the city, lace up your walking shoes, or rent a bike, to explore our city. Bypass the national chains and instead opt for local restaurants and boutiques to bring home souvenirs. With multiple award-winning restaurants, your only question will be which one to try first!
Note: With a little pre-planning it is easy to get in the habit of reducing your carbon footprint, particularly when you travel. The Charleston area beaches are home to nesting sea turtles and other important coastal wildlife. For that reason, many of the beaches in Charleston have enacted various bans of items like plastic bags, styrofoam food containers, plastic straws etc. If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, book one of our luxury vacation rentals and let our Concierge team help you plan a trip to the beach that will be sea-turtle approved!
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