Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Go green, save green

By Jen Jepsen, Gust Travel Columnist

If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Pacific Lutheran University, it’s that sustainability can be applied to just about every aspect of life.

Applying the same ideas to travel can even let environmentally conscious students on a budget be greener in their adventures.

An easy way to think about it is to apply the same methodology of sustainability that we’ve become accustomed to using every day on campus: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce

While it may not be possible to completely forgo air travel, lessening the number of flights you take can make a difference over time.

Choosing other methods of transportation, such as trains or carpooling, can decrease your carbon footprint by about half.

When traveling with a group, sharing a suitcase with a friend saves space and the cost of checking baggage, while reducing the amount of weight you bring onto the plane.

For those self conscious about their impact on the environment, programs such as terrapass.com offer carbon offsets for air travel that help promote environmental causes across the globe.

Reuse

Thinking ahead can help you prepare for possible travels by putting aside everyday items that will be important for your trip.

Collecting small containers for toiletries instead of buying new sets or asking to borrow needed items from friends are all useful ways of reusing resources.

One of my favorite techniques is to use leftover grocery bags to organize segments of my suitcase, a useful double for dirty clothes on the way home as well.

Recycle

Recycling while traveling can be nearly impossible at times. Ask around about the local recycling program. If there isn’t one in use, consider holding on to recyclable waste until the opportunity to recycle becomes available.

Give Back

The opportunities to give back are as many as your creativity allows.

A cheap means of seeing new places is to offer your time as a volunteer in return for a place to stay.

The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization is a prime example that offers free room and board in return for work at organic farms.

Wwoof.org offers opportunities to personally give back to the environment while connecting with people all over the globe.

Sustainability is a lifestyle that can be applied to all aspects of daily life, even travel. With a bit of creativity, dedication and planning, you can make budget travel more environmentally friendly while saving yourself money in the process.

Jen Jepsen is a senior English major at Pacific Lutheran University officially diagnosed with a bad case of wanderlust. Aside from travel and photography, her pastimes include dancing, hiking, Bananagrams and being vegetarian.