It’s summer time and now more than ever Americans are thinking about what to do, and especially where to go, when the next long weekend or vacation rolls around. The environmentally conscious among us would love to take a green vacation of the ecotourism variety.
If you’re like most, when you think of ecotourism, you probably imagine rappelling through the mid-level canopy of the Costa Rican rainforest. But most of us don’t have the time or money (especially with the depreciating dollar) to fly to Central America or Southeast Asia to enjoy the benefits of an idyllic green holiday.
To make matters worse, ecotourism companies in the developing world were some of the pioneers in “green-washing” techniques that flaunt eco-superficialities – their practices were not only destructive to the environment, but also economically detrimental to the indigenous populations.
So how do you enjoy an environmentally responsible getaway without worrying that someone is pulling the merino over your eyes? Stay in the US!
Keeping a local mindset is one of the keys to a sustainable lifestyle and supporting the fledgling green travel options in America might be your greenest option. Or as Outside magazine recently touted in this year’s green issue: “Near Is the New Far”.
While America is still lagging when it comes to greener travel options, the focus on sustainable travel is on the rise in our urban areas. Here are four American hotels leading the way in environmentally sustainable design without compromising on the luxuries or service of modern hospitality:
Proximity Hotel – Greensboro, NC
147-room luxury hotel uses 37% less energy and 30% less water than its peers and is on its way to becoming America’s first LEED Platinum hotel.
Sun Ranch – Cameron, MT
Domestic Eco-lodge on a 26,000 acre ranch whose conservation agenda extends from re-vitalizing trout spawning grounds to de-fencing elk migration routes.
Orchard Garden Hotel – San Francisco, CA
Posh new hotel with eco-innovations like guestroom energy controlled key-card system (finally we are catching up to Asia).
Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa – Napa, CA
Organic Vineyard and the only LEED Gold hotel in the US.
Your hotel isn’t the only part of your trip that is increasing your carbon footprint, so Travel + Leisure magazine put together a list of 10 green travel itineraries in American cities that takes into account everything from greener intra-city transport to organic foods. The Huffington Post has their own too. While you’re out exploring, don’t forget to keep in mind your carbon emissions (i.e. go by train, share a hybrid, and offset your emissions!). Happy travels!