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Traveling "green," seeking sustainable tourism options, is a concern in almost every part of the world today. New York State, with its large expanses of nature upstate and the massive resources consumed in New York City, is no different. Although one could argue that any vacation that includes an airplane flight can't be truly "green," you can go on holiday and still contribute positively to the environment. All travelers can take certain steps toward responsible travel. Choose forward-looking companies that embrace responsible development practices, helping preserve destinations for the future by working alongside local people. An increasing number of sustainable tourism initiatives can help you plan a family trip and leave as small a "footprint" as possible on the places you visit.

You can find eco-friendly travel tips, statistics, and touring companies and associations -- listed by destination under "Travel Choice" -- at The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) website, www.ecotourism.org. Also check out Conservation International (www.conservation.org) -- which, with National Geographic Traveler, annually presents World Legacy Awards to those travel tour operators, businesses, organizations, and places that have made a significant contribution to sustainable tourism. Ecotravel.com is part online magazine and part eco-directory that lets you search for touring companies in several categories (water-based, land-based, spiritually oriented, and so on). Here are a few options for a sustainable trip in New York State:

The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, 150 Lake Dr., Rhinebeck tel. 877/944-2002; www.eomega.org), offers yoga and meditation retreats and workshops and is committed to green living and sustainable initiatives. The Institute's pioneering Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), inaugurated in July 2009, is an education center and natural wastewater treatment facility, and a model of sustainable architecture: Omega has deluxe green cabins with organic bedding and linens, local sustainable building materials, low-flow shower heads and dual-button toilets, compact fluorescent lighting, and air-conditioning and heat offset by wind-powered energy.

The Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Education Center (tel. 845/482-4674; www.applepondfarm.com), 80 Hahn Rd., Callicoon (southwestern Catskill region), is a horse-powered organic farm that produces its own renewable energy. It offers demonstrations of milking; goat-cheese-making classes; farming for kids; and seminars and workshops on wind, photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal, and microhydro systems renewable energy.

WWOOF, the "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" exchange program that facilitates opportunities to work on a farm and learn about organic farming practices and sustainable living, counts several farms in New York State among its participating members, including New York Natural Farming (North Fork of Long Island); Burdock Hollow Homestead & Rootwork Herbals (Finger Lakes); St. Francis Farm (near Lake Ontario); and Hudson Valley Fiber Farm (Hudson River Valley). In exchange for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodations, and learning opportunities. For information visit www.wwoof.org and www.wwoofusa.org.

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/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.
  • 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 accommodations 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).

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.