Being environmentally conscious isn't the main concern of most music fans visiting Nashville and Memphis, yet Tennessee has begun taking steps to change that. After all, it is the home state of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, whose bestseller, Earth in the Balance, launched intense scrutiny of global warming.
Increasingly, hotel chains in Nashville and Memphis are trying to be more environmentally friendly, by giving guests the option of requesting fresh linens and towels on a nightly basis. For example, the new Hutton Hotel, in Nashville, is a pioneer in sustainable luxury.
Perhaps most noticeably, green living begins with what people eat. Restaurants, such as Nashville's tayst -- the city's first green-certified eatery -- are drawing kudos for their efforts and encouraging other restaurants to take similar measures.
In both Nashville and in Memphis, chefs and restaurant owners are beginning to emphasize organic and/or locally grown and raised produce, cheese, and meat sources for their menu items. Both cities also have vibrant farmers' markets, allowing residents and tourists alike to shop for the fresh foods and ingredients.
In the pork-barbecue-loving cities of Nashville and Memphis, it's not always easy to avoid eating greasy, meat-heavy meals. But the situation is light-years better than it used to be. An abundance of ethnic eateries can be found in both cities, and vegetarian options at mainstream restaurants are much more common than they were, say, a decade ago.
Increasingly, coffee houses such as Bongo Java in Nashville feature fair-trade coffees in their own, distinctive blends.
General Resources for Green Travel
In addition to the resources for Nashville and Memphis listed above, 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/planning.
- 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, 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 Eco Directory (www.ecodirectory.com.au) offer sustainable travel tips and directories of green businesses.
- Carbonfund (www.carbonfund.org), TerraPass (www.terrapass.org), and Carbon Neutral (www.carbonneutral.org) provide info on "carbon offsetting," or offsetting the greenhouse gas emitted during flights.
- Greenhotels (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 (www.hacgreenhotels.com) has a Green Key Eco-Rating Program, 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.volunteerabroad.org and www.idealist.org.
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.