Tips for Green(er) Travel

GSA continues to work on greening our meetings, but did you know there are things that you can do as well? Here are a few items to consider when traveling.

  • Power down your house before you leave. Unplug all phantom power vampires (power strips and the like). Close blinds. Turn down water heater.
  • Take documents needed for the meeting on your devices (laptop, smartphone), not paper (or at least print double-sided).
  • Pack light.
  • Bring your own covered reusable drink container, non-disposable utensils (instead of taking plastic take-out utensils; bamboo is excellent: light and washable) and a cloth shopping bag.
  • Use rechargeable batteries for your devices.
  • The Green hierarchy of transportation is: walk, bike, public transit, car or van pool, car, train, plane (and the green models of each of these are best, such as hybrid vehicles).
  • Fly coach/economy (more seats per plane).
  • Daytime flights have less than half the environmental impact of red-eye flights; fly nonstop rather than connect.
  • If you rent a car, get the smallest practical model, or a hybrid one.
  • Car/van pool if driving (or otherwise try to choose greener methods of transit).
  • Donate to carbon offset funds to offset your trip’s carbon footprint.
  • Book at a Green Seal or LEED-certified hotel.
  • Choose a hotel close to the venue, restaurants and public transit, so you can choose greener on the transportation scale.
  • Don't buy travel sized toiletries (at least reuse them); don’t use the hotel-supplied amenities (unless the hotel only replaces them when low, and donates unused items to charitable organizations). Use your own small reusable containers for toiletries, or save small remaining amounts in regular size ones for travel and then recycle those empty containers before you come home. Keep soap in your own container so it's not replaced every day.
  • Don't have your room cleaned every day; participate in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse program.
  • Don’t use room service because it uses more resources (and things such as one-use condiments, etc.).
  • Turn off lights, unplug device chargers, and re-set HVAC when not in use and when leaving the room.
  • Conserve water (as you do at home).
  • Recycle materials in appropriate bins.
  • Give feedback to the hotel about their green practices (or lack thereof) to create consumer-driven demand for better green practices.
  • If your hotel room has a fridge, stock up at local store or farmers’ markets for breakfast and snacks (instead of room service), and save money, too.
On Site
  • Eat local, vegetarian and/or sustainable (especially seafood).
  • Don't take paper and plastic from takeout (use the items you brought with you).
  • Buy a water bottle filter and drink tap water, or buy larger size bottled water instead to use during your stay.
  • Read newspapers online.
  • Exchange contact information electronically (email, QR Code, or card sharing app)
  • Recycle your badge, program and all other materials before leaving the meeting.