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General Resources for Green Travel

The following websites provide valuable, wide-ranging information on sustainable travel. For a list of even more sustainable resources, as well as tips and explanations on how to travel greener, visit www.frommers.com/tips.

  • Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) is a great source of sustainable travel ideas; the site is run by a spokesperson for ethical tourism in the travel industry. Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) promotes ethical tourism practices and manages an extensive directory of sustainable properties and tour operators around the world.
  • In the U.K., Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk) works to reduce social and environmental problems connected to tourism. The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO; www.aito.co.uk) is a group of specialist operators leading the field in making holidays sustainable.
  • In Canada, Green Living (www.greenlivingonline.com) offers extensive content on how to travel sustainably, including a travel and transport section and profiles of the best green shops and services in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.
  • In Australia, the national body that sets guidelines and standards for ecotourism is Ecotourism Australia (www.ecotourism.org.au). The Green Directory (www.thegreendirectory.com.au), Green Pages (www.thegreenpages.com.au), and EcoDirectory (www.ecodirectory.com.au) offer sustainable travel tips and directories of green businesses.
  • Carbonfund (www.carbonfund.org) and TerraPass (www.terrapass.com) provide info on "carbon offsetting," or offsetting the greenhouse gas emitted during flights.
  • Green Hotels Association (www.greenhotels.com) recommends green-rated member hotels around the world that fulfill the company's stringent environmental requirements. Environmentally Friendly Hotels (www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com) offers more green accommodation ratings. The Hotel Association of Canada has a Green Key Eco-Rating Program (www.greenkeyglobal.com), which audits the environmental performance of Canadian hotels, motels, and resorts.
  • Sustain Lane (www.sustainlane.com) lists sustainable eating and drinking choices around the U.S.; also visit www.eatwellguide.org for tips on eating sustainably in the U.S. and Canada.
  • For information on animal-friendly issues throughout the world, visit Tread Lightly (www.treadlightly.org). For information about the ethics of swimming with dolphins, visit the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (www.wdcs.org).
  • Volunteer International (www.volunteerinternational.org) has a list of questions to help you determine the intentions and the nature of a volunteer program. For general info on volunteer travel, visit www.goabroad.com and www.idealist.org.

Sustainable Tourism

Nature's beauty is one of the great assets of Cape Cod and the islands. Besides Cape Cod National Seashore, there are numerous protected areas run by state and local authorities -- that's why sustainable tourism is so important to this area. You will find that many lodging establishments, particularly those on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, include information in each hotel room about steps the hotel is taking to be more environmentally responsible and how you can help. Typical steps are to hang up towels if you do not need them to be changed every day. Water is precious on Cape Cod and the islands because of the limits of the region's sole source aquifer. For that reason, major attempts are made to conserve water. Many towns go into voluntary water restrictive measures every summer. For visitors, that means that unless you request water in a restaurant, you might not be served it automatically. The water saved is not just the water in the glass but also the amount of water it takes to wash the glass.

Several towns on Cape Cod take great measures to educate their citizens about not using too much fertilizer and pesticides on lawns. A true "Cape Cod" lawn does not use any fertilizer at all. You will see examples of xeriscaping around Cape Cod, particularly in Falmouth, in front of the town hall. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping that uses little to no water or fertilizer. You will see a colorful mélange of beach grasses and other sustainable plants that require little to no care. This type of landscaping is also popular in the Outer Cape towns, where water is also at a premium.

Very little of the Cape is on a sewer system, and the towns are all engaged in discussions about how to hook more homes up to sewers in order to protect the water quality in the region's bays and estuaries. This will likely be the largest issue in the region in the coming years.

Sustainable tourism is conscientious travel. It means being careful with the environments you explore and respecting the communities you visit. Two overlapping components of sustainable travel are ecotourism and ethical tourism. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. TIES suggests that ecotourists follow these principles:

  • Minimize environmental impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation and local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Support international human rights and labor agreements.

You can find some eco-friendly travel tips and statistics, as well as touring companies and associations -- listed by destination under "Your Travel Choice" -- at the TIES website, www.ecotourism.org. While much of the focus of ecotourism is about reducing impacts on the natural environment, ethical tourism concentrates on ways to preserve and enhance local economies and communities, regardless of location. You can embrace ethical tourism by staying at a locally owned hotel or shopping at a store that employs local workers and sells locally produced goods.

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.