Tag: Eco Travel

Fallows: ‘How I Survived China’

The Atlantic’s former China correspondent reflects on the health issues he faced as an expat amid the “ochre skies and suspect sanitation of China.” The air quality there can be so bad, one doctor told Fallows, “I encourage people with children not to consider extended tours in China. Those little lungs.”

What will future air quality be like in China? In Beijing, at least, it’s already improving.


Interview With Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith: ‘Clean Breaks’

Joanna Kakissis talks green travel, greenwashing and experiential journeys with the authors of a new book

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The Triumphant Return of the Trabant

The Triumphant Return of the Trabant Photo by storem via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by storem via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Yep, it’s true. The much-mocked East German vehicle of choice, which has gained a nostalgic following (or should I say ostalgic?) since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is coming back on the market—as an electric car. Wired’s Autopia bloggers, apparently immune to nostalgia, are horrified.


Photo We Love: Purple (and Green) World Heritage Windmills

Photo We Love: Purple (and Green) World Heritage Windmills REUTERS/Jerry Lampen
REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

Energy-efficient LED lighting illuminates the World Heritage-listed windmills of Kinderdijk, Netherlands.


Are Cruises Green?

That’s the question being tackled in Slate’s latest Green Lantern column. The short answer: No.


South Africa: A Wildlife Conservation Grand Tour

Slate’s Green Room leads the way.


Hybrid Double-Decker Buses Debut in London

Hybrid Double-Decker Buses Debut in London Photo by Paleontour via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Paleontour via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Six of them are now in use on Route 141. The city will assess just how much fuel and money it can save with the buses before expanding the fleet. (Via @joannakakissis, @ecogeek)


Give Some Time, Get Some Free Travel

Volunteer plants tree in national park Photo by USFS Region 5 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new promotion from Sage Hospitality encourages travelers to “give a day” of service and “get a night” back, via a free hotel stay or 50 percent off the rate at 52 hotels across the U.S.

Programs like these show potential to encourage public service in exchange for travel perks, especially among folks with more spare time right now than spare change. There’s no obligation to stay additional nights. Just complete eight documented hours with a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization. Extra (karma) points if you work for a green cause to help offset the environmental impact of your trip.


‘How Much are Venice, the Everglades, and New Orleans Worth?’

‘How Much are Venice, the Everglades, and New Orleans Worth?’ Photo by delgaudm via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by delgaudm via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Andrew Sullivan points the way to a Matt Steinglass post about the limits of measuring climate change damage in economic terms:

There will be no Everglades in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is marginal. There will be no Venice in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is tiny. There will be no New Orleans in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is extremely small. ... But the worth of many precious things cannot be measured in money.

Indeed.


My Deep-Sea Orbit Into a Love of Place

My Deep-Sea Orbit Into a Love of Place Photo by Joanna Kakissis

The deep, clean dive into the sea off Southwestern Greece probably sealed my lifelong attachment to the pristine in places. I was 9 years old and, until then, had only swam in chlorinated swimming pools and muddy river water in landlocked North Dakota. My father had grown up swimming in a secluded beach near the village of Kyparissia as a young orphan and had associated its salty breath and blue-green water with a wanderlust that would turn him dreamy-eyed even as a middle-aged man. To him, travel at its most elemental was about the unadorned land, enlivened by tides and breeze and hulking mountains. He described his childhood beach so lovingly that it almost sounded human.

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Can We Interest You in a Whale Meat Spring Roll?

Uh oh. A group of restaurateurs in Yokohama, Japan, is looking to embrace the port city’s whaling heritage with a slew of new recipes—including whale dumplings, whale spring rolls and whale bacon. “Whale meat is a very important part of Japanese tradition,” one of the leading businessmen behind the push told the AFP. “If whaling is not done to excess, I think this is a great thing. ... Whale meat is delicious, high in protein, low in fat.”

Delicious or not, I can already hear the howls of protest from animal-rights activists worldwide.


When (So-Called) Eco-Travelers Sin

When (So-Called) Eco-Travelers Sin Photo by stevendepolo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo by stevendepolo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man a few years ago, I was struck by an exchange between the nature-embracing mountain man Eustace Conway and an acolyte whose idea of life-changing sustainability was to turn off the water when she was brushing her teeth.

I wonder if some so-called “eco-travelers” operate the same way. Maybe they book a “life-changing” holiday at an eco-resort in Costa Rica and declare themselves sustainable travelers. But what if they take their unsustainable bad habits with them?

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Should Air Travelers Help Pay for the Poor’s Climate Change Woes?

Should Air Travelers Help Pay for the Poor’s Climate Change Woes? Photo by retromoderns via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by retromoderns via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s been a vexing question since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that air travel is the world’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Some 16,000 commercial jet aircraft produce more than 700 million tons of CO2 every year, the IPCC says. Though air travel accounts for between two and four percent of global warming attributed to human activities, that amount is expected to grow to 15 percent in 50 years.

Meanwhile, 45 million people are starving or malnourished because of climate change-spurred droughts, floods and other natural disasters. The Global Humanitarian Forum, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says 300,000 people a year die because of climate change and that number will reach 500,000 annually by 2030. As negotiators prepare for a major climate summit in Copenhagen this December, they are also trying to figure out how developed countries (who produce the bulk of carbon emissions) can help save developing countries (who are suffering the most because of global warming). Taxing air travel is a favorite idea.

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Eco-Travelers and ‘Seafood for Thought’: An Interview with Lindblad Expeditions

Eco-Travelers and ‘Seafood for Thought’: An Interview with Lindblad Expeditions Photo courtesy of Mathew Lachesnez-Heude
Photo courtesy of Mathew Lachesnez-Heude

The image of sun-kissed travelers eating fresh fish at a seaside tavern has probably graced scores of brochures, postcards and promotional films. But is a craving for this iconic fish dinner contributing to the collapse of 75 percent of the world’s fisheries?

The business of seafood is big: The international trade in fish and fish products rakes in some $50 billion annually. But trawlers are fishing sea life faster than it can replenish itself. As a result, once-bountiful fish such as the Mediterranean bluefin tuna—the so-called king fish of the global sushi industry—will collapse by 2012, according to the World Wildlife Federation.

I spoke with Mathew Lachesnez-Heude, the environmental manager for eco-progressive small-ship tour operator Lindblad Expeditions, about sustainable seafood and the choices travelers can make to help restore the world’s sea life.

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More Ahi, Please*

More Ahi, Please* Photo by goochie* via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by goochie* via Flickr (Creative Commons)

You can not pile too much ahi—the Hawaiian name for tuna—on my plate. I love the stuff: raw, grilled, wrapped in rice and nori and served as sushi, marinated in soy and spice and served as poke, crusted with macadamia nuts and coconut and topped with a little mango sauce ... I swear I am turning into a big drooling mess just thinking about it.

But overfishing is depleting tuna stocks, just like it’s depleting so many of our dinner-bound, ocean-dwelling populations, driving up the price and making for scarce supply.

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Checking in at the Boone Tavern

Checking in at the Boone Tavern Photo by Alexander Basek
Photo by Alexander Basek

Swinging through the positively quaint town of Berea, Kentucky, last week, I had the chance to stay at the refurbished Boone Tavern. The hotel, which is owned by Berea College, just across the street, celebrated its 100th anniversary this year with some renovations that are now more or less complete; they were laying a snazzy brick design in the parking lot turnaround when I was there.

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From Scenic River to a Stream of ‘Black Gel’

From Scenic River to a Stream of ‘Black Gel’ Photo by Silver Surfer via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Silver Surfer via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The great master of riverine prose, Norman Maclean, was haunted by the crystalline waters of Montana’s Blackfoot River. But the residents of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, are haunted by the stench of the Buriganga, a river so polluted by human and industrial waste that it’s turned into a dead stream of “black gel,” Reuters reports.

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Drink a Microbrew, Save the Planet, Taste the Culture

Drink a Microbrew, Save the Planet, Taste the Culture Photo by prince roy via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by prince roy via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve said before that travelers who want to walk the talk of environmentally responsible living must also seek out sustainable food (i.e. no Chilean sea bass!) when on the road. I’m adding locally brewed beer to my list.

Making and transporting beer doesn’t produce nearly as many carbon emissions as boutique wines, which are often flown by overnight air, says Pablo Paster in his column for Treehugger. Still, Paster advises eco-imbibers to drink a local brew over that beloved German beer.

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The New Sand: May Contain Plastic

The New Sand: May Contain Plastic Photo by Mason Bryant via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Mason Bryant via Flickr (Creative Commons).

The May 2009 issue of Hana Hou!—Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight mag—includes an article called The Voyage of the Junk. The story is about a journey from California to Honolulu via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship itself was a trash heap, made out of plastic garbage and leftover bits of a Cessna. The goal of the journey was to raise awareness of the impact that all the plastic crap we create, buy and use is having on the oceans.

There’s a particularly sad and telling passage in the story. Upon arrival in Honolulu, one of the sailors decided to find out how long it would take to pull a piece of plastic out of the water. He hopped overboard, and: “Less than a minute later he was out, holding up an ‘ABC Stores’ bag. ‘Thirty seconds,’ he said, with both triumph and distaste.”

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Lessons From The Dancing Chickens

Lessons From The Dancing Chickens Photo by Sophia Dembling
Photo by Sophia Dembling

When I heard about the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward, Okla., my mind went directly to funnel cakes, face painting, and maybe a parade with a Lesser Prairie Chicken Queen. Sign me up, I said! I love small-town fests.

I’m kind of a moron sometimes. It wasn’t until I had my trip planned that I fully understood that a bird festival is where bird watchers gather to watch birds—in this case, lesser prairie chickens. Not only was funnel cake not part of the event, but the centerpiece of the weekend involved waking before dawn to spend three hours in a field watching chickens dance.

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