Mom Goes Green takes a bite out of the Big (Green?) Apple!

I just returned from some grown-up fun in NYC… the Big Apple!  This time it was me and my husband only!  Amazing how simple life can be without kids in tow.nycity While neither of us like to leave our kids behind, it’s great to reconnect with your beloved!

We had a fantastic time and were conscious to keep the towels hung in the hotel (so they didn’t get a daily laundering), turn off lights and all that other good stuff, but it’s hard to feel like trekking around the city isn’t making a huge environmental impact.

We walked A LOT but I’m sure we took far too many cabs because (despite our many, many trips) we have never mastered their subway system.  So this led me to wonder, just how green in NYC?

I was surprised to learn that some recent research actually lists the Big Apple as #2 for the least wasteful cities in the US.  Problem is, this nyc-recyclesresearch was based on residents which total about 8.5 million.  But how many tourists visit the city each year?… 47 million.  Mind boggling!  That’s a lot of extra people creating trash.

While I did see some recycling receptacles around the city (one for cans & bottles and one for newspapers & magazines), they were still somewhat few and far between.  Even staying at the Hilton in Midtown didn’t provide much help (but I give them credit for all the CFLs!).  This time I didn’t cart a million things home because we ate in restaurants and didn’t make our own food, nor did we buy from street vendors and have a lot of disposable items, so aside from our addiction to cabs, we kept it fairly green.

Where did the othei-luv-nyr big cities rank?  As usual San Francisco stands proudly at #1.  But I still feel like most tourist cities aren’t doing all they can to see that their visitors have the proper resources to continue their green ways while contributing to local economies.

Aside from using public transportation or walking, keeping it green in your hotel room, and foregoing lots of disposables, what’s a traveler to do? Don’t get me wrong… I (still) love NY, but unless I get elected Mayor in each of these cities, I have absolutely no idea!

“Happy (and green) trails to you” in your travels…

When we were planning for our recent vacation I knew there was a lot more to consider than just being green once we arrivedhighway-traff-2 at our destination.  Obviously we had to get “from here to there” first.

Our greenest travel options would have been to travel by train or rent a hybrid, but definitely not by plane, since the emissions from airplanes are astronomical and have a tremendous effect on global warming!  In fact, a one-way flight from New York to Denver produces as much carbon dioxide per passenger as an SUV produces in a month!  But since we were driving our own car, we had it maintenanced before our trip (including proper inflation of the tires) and used the cruise to assure maximum fuel efficiency.

While we planned our driving route, we not only considered the trip that was the shortest, but also with the least likelihood of “stop and go” traffic because this only burns huge amounts of fuel (much more than steady driving for a longer distance) and again creates more emissions.  (We mistakenly challenged this thinking on our way home and paid the price in both time and fuel consumption!)

On our way to vacation, we also needed to spend one overnight in a hotel during our travels.  It’s not always easy to locate and select a green hotel when you’re in a remote area of the country, but there are ways to make your stay a little greener.hotel-room

  • Although it was only an overnighter, had we stayed longer we would have chosen to keep and reuse our towels and sheets more than once.  More and more hotels are offering this option and it certainly saves the energy required to do the washing.
  • Also, use your same “at home” rules about turning off lights and TVs, reasonable AC temperatures and the length of your showers.  Being away from home shouldn’t be a license to overuse.
  • And if you find yourself with recyclables but the hotel doesn’t recycle, take them with you and be sure to find a place where they can be recycled instead of having them become trash.

No matter where you go, how you go or where you stay along the way, choose to “follow the greener brick road” to your destination!