The Boston area is a hotbed of eco-awareness. True, it's not Europe, or even California, but residents and visitors have a smaller-than-usual carbon footprint almost by accident -- driving in the area is such a headache that ditching the car makes sense for both the environment and your sanity.
Before you leave home, visit the city's official tourism website to find information about eco-aware attractions along with lists of hotels and restaurants that are certified green or working toward that status.
The industry-leading Lenox Hotel was one of the first American hotels to offer a towel reuse program and boasts an impressive portfolio of initiatives and awards. The Lenox is part of the Saunders Hotel Group, which has demonstrated and encouraged green awareness in the hospitality business for decades. Virtually all of the chain lodgings in the area and their independent competitors are also on the bandwagon. The Colonnade Hotel Boston and the Seaport Hotel are particularly green.
The Chefs Collaborative is a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to "changing the sustainable food landscape"; you can locate member restaurants via the group's website. The Green Restaurant Association maintains a regularly updated list of members.
Huge proportions of Boston-area commuters get to work on foot or by public transit. Cambridge has been relatively hospitable to bicyclists for years, and Boston is catching up and even planning a bike-share program similar to the arrangements in such cities as Paris and Montreal (visit www.cityofboston.gov/bikes for information). Most subway stations and some bus stops have receptacles for recycling the newspaper after you finish reading it. Zipcar originated in Cambridge; your membership at home entitles you to use cars all over the Boston area, including locations at the end of most subway lines.
Awareness of the importance of recycling is nothing radical in New England, where one of the best-known sayings is "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." To take just one example, Massachusetts is among the national leaders in the campaign to reduce the use of disposable shopping bags. To learn more about statewide green initiatives, visit the Department of Environmental Protection's website. Learn more about Boston's environmental efforts at www.boston.gov/departments/environment.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.