Sunday, January 17, 2010

Earth Friendly Family Travel - Breakfast Milk in the Bud Light cup?

My family took a two day get-away to Duluth last week for some swimming and sight seeing. While its fun to take those trips, we are quite disgusted by the way traveling generates so much waste. Disposable serveware at meals, beverages in disposables, no recycling bins and housekeeping are all culprits in filling up our hotel trash bin.

Earth friendly family travel for us means:
  • Bringing our own water bottles and thermoses so that we do not need to acquire disposable beverage containers.
  • Bringing along a small set of dishes including a cutting board, knife, and small mixing bowl.
  • Collecting all recyclables and toting them home- paper, cans and plastic! It is a bit easier to commingle these while on the road and then sorting them once home.
  • Collecting all compostables and toting them home to the composter- coffee grounds, orange peels and paper with food waste are all examples. Yes, we really do this on car trips. Its not really that big of a deal once you designate a spot for compostables to go. The hotel ice bucket sure works well for this job!
  • Bring along a dishwashing wand and dish soap to clean up our dishes. The kids are sure more eager to help with this job when we are vacationing.
  • Reusing any plastic cups and plates that we do acquire. Who wants their breakfast milk in the Bud Light cup?
  • Bringing along some food. Takeout meals means takeout food packaging. By having sandwich fixings, fruit, a bag of salad and snacks on hand we can make lunches in our room and avoid more packaging while saving some change. A few spare sandwich bags in the suitcases allows us to have the sandwiches with us on the road.
  • Declining housekeeping during our stay. Many hotels are doing this more routinely, even promoting their "eco-business". These claims are often akin to greenwashing considering the rest of their practices are so wasteful (Where are the recycling bins exactly?). But regardless, by declining housekeeping, we minimize the amount of laundering required for our stay along with less garbage bags, plastic cups, shampoo bottles consumed.
  • Bringing our own shampoo and conditioner. There is never enough in the little hotel bottles anyway.
Granted, we buck the disposa-society trend hard, and definitely are not within the norms set by our fellow vacationers. However, the reward of a trashcan NOT filled with clamshells, foodwaste and recyclables is motivating, and allows us to have a more carefree vacation. We are looking for more ideas, please suggest yours!


  1. Granted this hits very close to home but when I read it in print it makes so much sense.

    Great post, I hope it inspires others.

  2. I came across these stats:

    Nationally, about 50 percent of a typical lodging’s waste stream is recyclable. The portion that isn’t recyclable could be significantly reduced or eliminated.

    Food and non-recyclables 46.2%
    Paper 25.3%
    Cardboard 11.7%
    Plastics 6.7%
    Glass 5.6%
    Metals 4.5%
    Based on volume

    Sources: HVS Eco Services (1998) City of Los Angeles Waste Generation Study (1993)