Why travel green

Leaf globeIt’s healthier. You gotta eat, so eat the right stuff and keep your body’s natural defenses at their peak to help ward off the stresses of the new and strange of travel. Study after study shows organic foods are just plain better. Why? you ask. Reason #1: Foods grown in healthy soil (no chemical pesticides or industrial fertilizers) are more healthy. Notes bestselling author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma): “We now have a body of research supporting the hypothesis, first advancedby organic pioneers Sir Albert Howard and J.I. Rodale, that soils rich in organic matter produce more nutritious food: that is, food with higher levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals.”  These nutrients and antioxidants—up to 40% more than non-organic counterparts—help ward off cancer and heart disease. One study states: “The health benefits were so striking that moving to organic food was the equivalent of eating an extra portion of fruit and vegetables every day.”  And, hey, there’s agreement among most experts that even tiny doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect us, and especially so our kids and babies in the womb. Ever hear the big mighty river analogy? Well, like a river, think of our bodies as a steady flow of stuff, good, bad and indifferent. In, out. In, out. Like a river, we can clean ourselves of toxins and other nasty things … up to a point. Once we reach that stagnation zone, that “one poison too many” level, woe is us. The river and living things in it die. We fall prey to disease. It’s a disaster. You can’t travel in today’s world without being constantly assaulted by environmental pollutants—so why add more to your own personal river from the very food you eat? Finally, do eat local. Local food is best for you because it’s at its freshest and most healthful (and carbon-emitting fossil fuels have not been expended to carry it thousands of miles to your plate).

Eating green on the journey is only part of the solution. You also gotta sleep. You’ll spend roughly half your travel hours in your lodging. Why spend them in the company of off-gassing petroleum-based furnishings, carpet and wall coverings, toxic chemical cleaners and pesticide residues, and all the other uninvited roommates in the typical hotel room? It’s totally documented that people in green buildings are happier, more productive, and are sick less often. Thus sleeping green—where nontoxic and natural cleaning products, linens, furnishings and building materials are used—is a gift to your health and well-being. It’s critical to sufferers of serious environmental sensitivities, asthma or allergies. So go ahead: feel your best and enjoy your travels to the max.

Best for the planet

We know now that humans are to blame for climate change. How do we react? If everyone in the U.S. chose organic for just a tenth of their diet (according to Mission Organic 2010) more than 6 billion pounds of carbon would be restored to our soil (where it belongs, instead in the atmosphere!), and more than 2 billion barrels of imported oil annually would never add to greenhouse gases. When you stay in green lodgings, your carbon footprint is  smaller (also consider a reputable carbon offset program), and there won’t be laundry, grounds-keeping and other industrial chemicals leeching into the aquifers, rivers and oceans. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green buildings can use up to 26% less energy by utilizing eco-friendly cooling devices such as industrial ceiling fans, emit 33% less carbon dioxide, use 30% less indoor water and send 50% to 75% less solid waste to landfills and incinerators. Who says little changes can’t have a big impact? Green travel is a win-win. You have a great travel experience … the planet breathes easier.

Best for local green business

By supporting green businesses where you travel, you reward their efforts to protect the environment, support their success, and encourage others to surf the same green wave. Buying local and organic means supporting local farmers, ranchers, fishermen and those who make other local organic products—and helping them lead healthier lives without toxic pollutants and other hazards to themselves and the planet. Never underestimate the power of your economic choices. Vote with your fork and wallet!