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A new eco-conscious expo in South Korea

At the Expo Digital Gallery, you can watch the advanced IT and LED lighting art interwoven to create an outdoor marine culture art gallery. That amazing overhead LED screen measures 218m by 30m. — Photos by MAJORIE CHIEW/The Star and courtesy of Expo Yeosu Korea 2012

THE exhibition halls are fully booked and impossible to get into, says our tour guide, Jinny Kim. And it wasn’t even opening day at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012!

Our group, though, has special permission to enter, as we are there to report on this extraordinary expo. Even before we get in, though, we hear details that are jaw-dropping: The expo, which began on Saturday and runs until Aug 12, will draw 10 million visitors, and its expected economic effect will be 12.2 trillion Korean won (RM32.7bil) as well as the creation of 80,000 new jobs, explains Yeseul Oh, a spokesperson for the expo’s organising committee.

To draw all those visitors, the 93-day expo will be jam-packed with over 3,000 cultural programmes, with 40 performances and events daily!

The venue is Yeosu’s 2.71sq km New Port development where the expo site covers an area of 250,000sqm. The result of four years of work and US$10bil (RM31bil) in investment, Expo Yeosu is the country’s second international fair since Expo Taejon (Daejeon) in 1993.

While that event was about development, this year’s theme is “The Living Ocean and Coast” and emphasises the importance of the marine environment. To quote the expo’s website, the event “will provide an opportunity to enhance the international community’s perception of the function and value of the ocean and coast, share knowledge on the proper use of the ocean and coast, and recognise the need for cooperation in the marine sector.”

In keeping with that very green spirit, the entire expo site was constructed using environmentally-friendly methods and recycled materials to produce the least amount of waste possible. All preparations and events are designed to leave a limited carbon footprint.

Basically, the expo forms a model city exhibiting the low-carbon lifestyle of the future. It is an open-air gallery housing artworks of architectural grandeur and providing a glimpse of a high-tech city circa 2050 against the backdrop of the sea.

The Aquarium is well worth visiting as it is the largest in Korea and offers an up close look at rare marine species such as beluga whales.

The construction and operation of the expo facilities and exhibitions are based on South Korea’s cutting-edge information technology allowing for novel experiences involving virtual and augmented reality.

The major exhibition facilities are the Theme Pavilion, the Korea Pavilion, and the International Pavilion, which comprise a joint pavilion hosting 56 developing countries and the individual pavilions of 49 countries.

Among the areas our tour takes in on the expo’s second pre-opening day are the Aquarium and Japan Pavilion. (Our guide informs us that the Malaysian Pavilion would be worthy of a visit but that it is, unfortunately, not ready at this time.)

Just getting to the International Pavilions is fascinating because a supersized LED screen with fantastic digital shows stretches over the walkway; the 218m long by 30m wide screen is part of the Expo Digital Gallery, which is a pedestrian mall offering a variety of electronic art.

After that experience, we head to the Japan Pavilion where we are treated to footage of the beautiful seas around that country and receive sobering information about the sea’s connection with forests, cities and the March 2011 tsunami disaster. There is also a screening of an animated story about a Japanese boy, Kai, a tsunami survivor who rides a magical flying bicycle to see residents restoring their hometowns.

Dazzling: The night-time musical fountain show at the Big-O, one of the iconic structures at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012.

Visitors are also introduced to Japan’s advanced ocean technology that help people enjoy the bounties of the sea.

If you can’t make it to every facility at the expo, do be sure to get to the Aqua Planet Aquarium – it is definitely worth a visit. It is the largest in South Korea – comprising a 6-tonne water tank – and displays 280 species of fish and rare marine species such as beluga whales from Russia. It’s awesome when you walk through a transparent tunnel and find marine life teeming around you – makes you wonder just who is in the tank!

This facility has three zones: The Coastal Life zone allows visitors to see rare ocean animals such as white whales, Baikal seals and sea dragons; the Marine Life zone can be viewed in all directions, the first of its kind in South Korea; the Eco-Terrarium zone recreates the ecological system of the Amazon and houses rare South American freshwater fish such as the pirarucu and piranha.

While we can’t get to it, we hear that the Climate & Environmental Pavilion is a hit with visitors too, as they get to experience the extreme cold of the Arctic ice-edge in the Arctic Glacier Experience section.

A myriad of futuristic robots await visitors at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) Marine Robot Pavilion. Meet Navi, the tallest robot ever introduced in South Korea. An adult comes up just knee-high to the 6.5m tall, 1 tonne machine.

Led by Navi, a fleet of robots present the performance of marine resource exploration and mineral mining in a 6,000m-deep virtual underwater environment.

There is also Ever, a feminine robot that has 30 different facial expressions, and Mero, which dances to famous songs by Korean boy band Super Junior. Also, a seven-colour robot fish and robots from other countries such as the United States, Britain and France, join a total of 73 robots on display.

The Sky Tower, the tallest structure at the expo, is a monumental piece of art, recycled and redesigned from a pair of abandoned 55m-high cement silos. It has a harp-shaped exterior, an embodiment of giant waves, but really, the tower is a fully functioning pipe organ that plays tunes related to the sea!

The main Theme Pavilion is the country’s first offshore pavilion.

The Ocean Experience Park is part of the city’s concrete shore-protection project that has been turned into an eco-friendly park. It is a great venue to learn about the significance of coastal ecosystems while lapping up the pristine beauty of the sea.

And at Energy Park, you can have hands-on experience with the latest technologies using renewable energy sources such as wind and tides. This eco-friendly park also offers a place to rest while exploring these green technologies.

Apart from the different pavilions and other facilities, the expo also offers large scale events such as the state-of-the-art Night Multi-Media Show of a dazzling display of laser lights. The Big Ocean Show is a weekly performance that uses the sea, beach and ships to create different performances that reflect the expo’s theme. And the World Ocean Performance features artists on a floating stage, thus using the sea as a platform for cultural activities.

Celebrities gracing the Big-O shows include nine-time Grammy Award winner John Legend and a host of K-pop stars such as the Wondergirls, Dynamic Duo & Simon D, Beast, Jay Park, Apink, BTOB, Busker Busker, Leessang & JeongIn, 2AM, B1A4, 2PM, MissA, Infinite, Shinee, Super Junior, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, Ailee, FTIsland, and ZE:A & c.

And if you are separated from your travel companions amidst the throngs of people and carnival atmosphere at the expo, the Big-O is the place to converge. This 48m-tall round steel structure is the iconic centrepiece of what is truly an amazing expo.

For more information about the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012, go to eng.expo2012.kr.

The writer was part of a eight-member delegation comprising representatives of the Malaysian media, Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation that toured the expo before it opened. The trip was organised by the Korea Tourism Organisation and supported by Korean Air.

Article excerpted from www.thestar.com.my

The hot list: 10 hip and green UK destinations for 2012

Forget France; the UK is home to some of the coolest holiday spots on the planet. Whether you want scenery, natural phenomena or a dose of eco-luxury, there’s a British break to suit you

Not only does the UK boast some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, it also has wildlife watching opportunities galore and a wealth of historical sites. So why then, is the country so frequently written off as the ‘cheap’ option or the ‘green’ one? It’s both of these things of course but whatever you’re looking for, Great Britain has more going for it than flight-free and low-cost travel. ‘The only way to educate people is to do it in the location,’ comments Matt Spence, CEO of UK eco-tourism specialists, Natural Retreats. ‘When people see [what the UK has to offer], they start to understand.’ After a stellar 2009, domestic tourism has fallen slightly according to statistics released by Visit Britain, with around 96.4 million overnight stays taken by Brits in the UK last year. That might sound like a lot but it still represents a fall, with more of us than ever heading abroad.

In part, this is down to the quest for value (one of CheapFlights CEO Hugo Burge’s top travel trends for 2012) – with the UK often regarded as overpriced – but it’s also the result of a lack of knowledge about Britain’s beauties. Who knew, for instance, that the Northern Lights could be seen in Britain, or that the seas off the top of Scotland offer some of the best whale watching experiences in the world? ‘Up in John O’ Groats you can see the one of world’s largest predators (the killer whale) from the beach,’ says Spence. ‘There’s seals and you can go scuba diving to look at shipwrecks. What we have here is a pristine wilderness area that people really need to see.’ John O’Groats is the location for Natural Retreats’ newest venture – the retrofitted and renovated John O’Groats Hotel – but it’s not the only British destination that looks set to become a must-visit this year. From Cornish beach huts to Cambrian mountain cabins, the UK has something for everyone, whether you’re travelling with children or looking for a romantic retreat. We’ve rounded up 10 hip hotspots that offer combine chic surroundings with an emerald green eco ethos – and they’re all a short train ride away. If this doesn’t get you thinking about a British break, nothing will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchard Carriage, Somerset

Why it’s cool: One for locomotive enthusiasts and lovers of all things quirky alike; until the mid-1900s, the Orchard Carriage was exactly that – a train carriage on the local branch line. After being decommissioned, it was used as a storage container for the Village Hall in nearby Bruton before being rescued and restored to its former glory. Set in a pretty orchard on a biodynamic smallholding, it boasts sensational Somerset views, a comfy double bed and has its own wood-fired sauna. In the area you’ll find a wealth of walking opportunities, plenty of pretty villiages to explore and some wonderful old pubs. Try the Archangel in nearby Frome, which offers seasonal, locally sourced fare in a historic building – parts of which date as far back as the Domesday Book.

Green credentials: Owners Zoe and Jonno have kept fossil fuel use to a minimum by using a combination of solar power and a woodburning stove for heating and lighting. Outside, you’ll find a compost toilet and the aforementioned wood-fired sauna.
Find out more: www.canopyandstars.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Retreats, John O’Groats

Why it’s cool: Surprisingly for a town that’s so well known, John O’Groats has little in the way of decent accommodation and even less going for it in the eco department. All that however, is going to change when Natural Retreats launches its newest property in June. In partnership with Heritage Great Britain, the eco holiday specialist is giving a green makeover to the historic John O’Groats hotel, with local materials and green construction techniques incorporated into the build. The most northerly town in the UK, John O’Groats boasts a wonderfully wild coastline, with plenty of seals, whales and dolphins to spot. If you go in winter, you might just get a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis.

Green credentials: Like the rest of the Natural Retreats portfolio, the John O’Groats property will be run along eco-friendly lines. Locally sourced, sustainable materials and local craftsmen are being used to complete the refit.
Find out more: www.naturalretreats.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey

Why it’s cool: It might be famous for its golden sand and creamy milk but 2012 looks set to be the year that Jersey becomes known for more than cows and beaches. With a packed events calendar that ranges from the charming (Battle of Flowers) to the choral (Tennerfest), there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Other top picks include the convivial La Faîs’sie d’Cidre (Cider Festival) and the June in Bloom Floral Festival. Away from the festivities, spend some time enjoying the island’s balmy climate on one of its many sandy beaches or hire a bike and take a trip round the island using its ‘green lanes’, where cyclists have priority over car drivers. Also worth visiting is the magnificent Mont Orgueil Castle, which offers wonderful sea views and a network of towers and spiral staircases to explore.

Green credentials: Along with its network of green lanes, Jersey remains largely unspoilt and as a result is home to a wealth of rare flora and fauna, including a puffin colony on the Piemont Headland. Although eco accommodation options are limited – think camping – the island does have an Eco-Active scheme to encourage businesses to do more to protect the environment and biodiversity. The Radisson-Blu St Helier is signed up.
Find out more: www.jersey.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hebridean Trail, Outer Hebrides

Why it’s cool: A new experience launched for summer 2012 by eco travel specialists, Wilderness Scotland, the Hebridean Trail is a seven-day mountain biking trip through the Outer Hebrides, with local guides, ferry transport and accommodation all thrown in. The seven islands that make up the Outer Hebrides remain relatively untouched, with stunning coastline and plentiful wildlife spotting opportunities on offer. Among the non-human residents are the golden eagle and the red deer, and you’ll also get the opportunity to get to grips with the islands’ unique, Gaelic-speaking culture.

Green credentials: Carbon emissions are kept to a minimum with all transportation done by bike or ferry. Wilderness Scotland are also willing to collect visitors from Inverness station – the nearest mainline station to the Hebrides – which means you can leave the car at home and rule out the plane entirely.
Find out more: www.wildernessscotland.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell Bay, Bryher

Why it’s cool: Despite the apocalyptic name, nowhere could be further from hell than the Hell Bay hotel, located on the glorious Bryher island. One of the Scilly Islands, Bryher is home to thousands of seabirds and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, along with the world-famous Abbey clifftop gardens on the nearby Tresco. Perched on a clifftop with spectacular sea views is the Hell Bay Hotel, which boasts an impressive CSR policy, ultra chic rooms and a restaurant specialising in local fare. Art lovers will adore the plethora of locally made artwork, including pieces by Barbara Hepworth, while for wildlife fans, the hotel can arrange boat trips and diving excursions.

Green credentials: Hell Bay’s exhaustive stable of green initiatives, includes everything from composting food and paper waste to eco-friendly cleaning products. Use of plastics is kept to a minimum, while old glass is crushed and used as aggregate. The hotel also encourages water conservation and uses recycled rainwater as much as it can.
Find out more: www.hellbay.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast

Why it’s cool: With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic just over two months away, all eyes are turning to Belfast where the doomed liner was built. The Titanic Belfast, a spectacular new museum and community arts centre designed with the shape of the ship’s funnel in mind, opens in spring, and will play host to a number of commemorative events, including the Titanic Light Show, from the 7th to 12th April, and the Titanic Proms on the 8th September. Away from the city, head to the Culloden Estate and Spa – a sympathetically restored manor house perched on Belfast Lough, five miles outside of the city centre. Not only is it within striking distance of Belfast’s nightlife and attractions, it’s a great base for exploring the surrounding emerald green countryside.

Green credentials: The Grade I listed house has been sympathetically restored using local materials and antique furniture, while the spa uses holistic naturals brand, ESPA.
Find out more: www.hastingshotels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potting Shed, Tweed Valley

Why it’s cool: If you’re the sort of person who escapes to the garden shed when the going gets tough at home, then the quirky Potting Shed in Scotland’s Tweed Valley could be exactly what you need. You won’t be sharing space with the owner’s tool collection though, as the former shed has been totally revamped, with an open-plan living space, a bright bedroom (complete with linen bedsheets) and wonderful views of the River Tweed, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows. Often overlooked in favour of the Highlands, the Tweed Valley has plenty for nature fans to get excited about, and there are plenty of biking and hiking trails to choose from. The pretty town of Melrose is within hiking distance of the Potting Shed, while a short bus trip will take you to the historic town of Bamburgh with its magnificent mediaeval castle and vast stretches of golden sandy beach. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also the chance to take a boat trip to Lindisfarne where you can take a closer look at the island’s famous gospels and the ancient ruins of the abbey.

Green credentials: Heating at the Potting Shed comes courtesy of a wood-burning stove and an ultra efficient Everhot electric heat storage unit, which also provides power for the cooker. Organic Sedburgh toiletries are also provided.
Find out more: www.crabtreeandcrabtree.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beach Hut, Cornwall

Why it’s cool: Forget visions of candy-striped beachside boxes; this beach hut is more of a cottage than a changing room. Built in 1920, the grey clapperboard cottage is set in the middle of a 52-acre property near Bude and boasts spectacular sea views plus doorstep access to a vast sandy surfing beach. Inside, the single room cottage has a king size double bed, a small kitchen area and stripped back décor, with a wood-burning stove taking pride of place. Perfect for surfers, the Beach Hut also works brilliantly for wildlife fans, with trips to view the endangered Basking shark available upon request. Miles of coastal paths offer ample cycling and walking opportunities, while the Eden Project is within striking distance.

Green credentials: A wood burning stove heats the property, and although logs are supplied, you can just as easily use driftwood foraged from the beach. A hamper packed with local goodies, including Cornish sea salt is provided.
Find out more: www.beachtomato.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limewood, New Forest

Why it’s cool: If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at foraging, the New Forest with its diverse array of habitats and carefully preserved coppices is the place to start. Limewood, an eco-chic retreat deep in the heart of the forest, offers bespoke foraging trips with resident expert, Garry Eveleigh. Expect to find wild berries, nuts and fungi, all of which can then be turned into something spectacular by chef, Luke Holder, on your return. If the thought of a woodland pick your own session hasn’t whetted your appetite, then maybe the idea of cycling, hiking and riding through some of the best-preserved ancient woodland in England will. There’s plenty of unique fauna to see en route, including red deer, fallow deer, adders, lizards, badgers, foxes and of course, the New Forest pony.

Green credentials: The Regency house has been carefully restored, with the environment in mind, while the restaurant serves up locally sourced and foraged fare. The spa uses British organic brand, Bamford, and has its own ‘herbary’, where it grows herbs for use in treatments.
Find out more: www.limewoodhotel.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cabin, Cambrian Mountains

Why it’s cool: Located in a pretty wooded glade, the Cabin looks like a cross between an old-fashioned pavilion and an ultra luxe garden shed. What’s not retro, however, is the ridiculously chic Moroccan style interior, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Wallpaper spread. What’s more, with hydro powered amenities, local timber walls and wood-powered heating, it’s gorgeously green. Nant yr Onnen also has plenty for bird enthusiasts to love, with edkites, cuckoos, woodpeckers, nuthatches, buzzards, henharriers, goshawks and sparrowhawks all to be seen from the kitchen window. In the surrounding area, you’ll find the Upper Towy Valley, with its myriad walking and biking opportunities, the Dinas Nature Reserve and the spectacular Carreg Cennen castle, which sits on a rocky outcrop that commands stunning views of the nearby Black Mountain and Towy Valley.

Green credentials: The planet is a priority for owners, Fiona and Tim, who generate their own electricity using a micro hydro generator, and use their own sustainable timber in their wood burning stoves. The Cabin also has a compost toilet, while water comes direct from one of the springs on the property and is stored behind the owners’ cottage in an old milk tanker.
Find out more: www.canopyandstars.co.uk

Article excerpted from www.theecologist.org

11 Tips and Tricks for Greening your Hotel Stay

Let’s face it, as much as we love camping, hostels, and eco-lodges sometimes a hotel is the most reasonable option. Luckily, even when staying at the least environmentally-friendly hotel you have a lot of control over your environmental impact. Here are 11 of our favorite tips and tricks for being a little friendlier to Mother Earth during your next hotel stay:

  1. Unplug, unplug, unplug. The first thing you should do when you walk into a hotel room is unplug. 5 lamps? Unplug 4. Mini-fridge? Unless you’ve brought a turkey and mayo sandwich, unplug. Coffee maker? Unplug. Hair dryer? Unplug. Appliances drain energy even when they’re not on. If you just spend 2 minutes unplugging items you will already have made a difference.

    photo credit: trekkyandy

  2. Hang your towel. In my experience housekeeping is haphazard in their pledge to “save the environment one towel at a time.” Most times I hang the towel and come back later to find they’ve replaced it anyway; but about 50% of the time they leave it for me.
  3. Move the soap. An easy trick to reduce your waste is to bring the bar of soap with you to the shower when you shower and leave it by the sink the rest of the time. Seriously, when was the last time you used two full bars of soap at a hotel? (Or even one full bar?)
  4. Stick the “Do not Disturb” on your door. Or just call housekeeping and tell them you won’t need their services during your stay. To prevent the hotel from wasting water by changing your sheets and towels, wasting electricity by vacuuming, and spraying harsh chemicals all over your toothbrush, just ask them to refrain from cleaning your room during your stay.
  5. Adjust the thermostat. By lowering the temperature by 2 degrees in the winter or raising it by 2 in the summer you will save a lot of energy. And you won’t notice the difference.
  6. When you leave the room turn everything off:
    • Lights
    • TV
    • Thermostat (if the weather is mild)
  7. Flush less frequently. No need to flush every time. Practice the “if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow” rule.
  8. Bring your own toiletries. I personally know the pains of the 3 oz of liquids on planes rule. A liter of genuine, carried-back-from-Ireland Whiskey was confiscated from us on a 6 am flight the day the emergency (and now permanent) rule came down. True story. But think of all of the plastics that are used to create tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner. And all of the extra packaging in luxury hotel items. Plus, by bringing your own shampoo you can prevent a bad hair day from bad shampoo.
  9. Take shorter showers. Sometimes a long, hot shower feels incredible. But do you need that every day? The average US shower head spits out about 2.5 gallons per minute, which means in a 15 minute shower you use nearly 40 gallons of water. Yikes!
  10. Leave the pen (and other freebies) behind. I don’t know why, but I’m a sucker for free pens. Even the crappy ones that explode in my purse on the airplane ride home. Do the earth a favor and leave these items behind.
  11. Recycle. Find out if the hotel recycles. If they do, ask if they separate it out from waste-bins. If they don’t, take your free USA Today and empty cans and bottles and toss them in an extra pocket in your suitcase to recycle later. They weigh almost nothing.

Article excerpted from www.gogreentravelgreen.com

What tips or tricks do you have that help you be a (more) responsible hotel-goer? It takes less than 5 minutes only to do the above, go green to protect this earth.

31 Reasons to Travel Green: In Pictures

Every green traveler has those days where she just wants to give up. Pollution, global warming, bad environmental policy decisions – how much of a difference can one person really make?

We’re launching our 25 Days to Green Travel series with photos that remind us why traveling green – and living green – matters. We’re going with the “a picture is worth a thousand words” concept. All of these images except one are from Flickr, many from amateur photographers. No matter what shade of green traveler you are, I hope these photos motivate you to keep traveling green. As I searched for these photos, I was reminded over and over that our travel decisions don’t just affect us; they affect people and wildlife across the world, and they will for generations to come.

The post wraps up with some truly amazing photos of beautiful places, people, and creatures around the world, so stick through the depressing photos to the end and you’ll be rewarded.

The Bad

Destruction of Wildlife


Oiled bird from Black Sea oil spill. photo credit: marinephotobank


Polar bear on melted ice near Barents Island, Norway. © Arne Naevra


Dead fish in a polluted riverbed, Buenos Aires, Argentina. photo credit: blmurch

Global Warming


Exposed coral reef in Gili Meno, Indonesia. photo credit: yeowatzup


Fragment of a melted iceberg. photo credit: nick_russill


Floating iceberg chunk in Patagonia. photo credit: lrargerich


Melting icebergs in Jökulsárlón, Iceland. photo credit: csproete

Water Pollution


Polluted river in Cambodia. photo credit: davilla


Man finding plastic bags in River Yamuna in Delhi, India. photo credit: Koshyk


Metal barrel in a green river. photo credit: jantik

Air Pollution


Taj Mahal choking in early morning smog. photo credit: mshandro


Beijing smog. photo credit: diggingforfire


ir pollution in Nova Scotia. photo credit: ojbyrne


Car pollution in Cremona, Italy. photo credit: Simone Ramella


Mexico City smog. photo credit: arndw


Los Angeles, California smog. photo credit: cwsteeds


Santiago, Chile smog. photo credit: philliecasablanca


One way to avoid breathing polluted air in Tehran. photo credit: kamshots


Plane pollution, Anywhere. photo credit: mshades

Forest Destruction


Deforestation in Guatemala. photo credit: Pati’s Moment in Time


Deforestation in the Amazon. photo credit: dgidsicki


Deforestation in Wakayama, Japan. photo credit: T.Hagihara

Waste


Electronics waste in China from the Western World. photo credit: art_es_anna


Chinese baby surround by electronics parts from the Western World. photo credit: art_es_anna

The Good

Preserve the Sites and Wildlife


Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. photo credit: atomicpuppy68


Mountains in Brienz, Switzerland. photo credit: pilou


Elephants in Kenya. photo credit: wildcat_dunny


Moose in Alaska. photo credit: Paul Resh

Support the Local Economy and Way of Life


Fish vendor in Seoul, South Korea. photo credit: neaners


Indian street vendor. photo credit: utpal.

Article excerpted from www.gogreentravelgreen.com

All the pictures above have speak a thousand words. The pollution will getting worst if we still haven’t aware of it and no action is taken.  Let’s do our part when we travel to other countries so that others can enjoy the amazing view as well.

Go Green or Go Home: Tips for Being Eco-Friendly on the Road

This is a post by contributing author Lauren Fritsky of TheLifeThatBroke.com (@LaurenFritsky).

Using eco-friendly products, recycling and eating locally-grown food can be easy — at home. Yet if you’re on a RTW trip backpacking in Thailand, Sydney or Vancouver, you might find it difficult to keep up with your environmentally-conscious lifestyle. To help you stay green while backpacking around the world, we asked some globetrotters for their tips on staying green on the road.

Check out these green travel tips from some travelers in the know…

Creative Commons: MikeBehnken

Christine Amorose of C’est Christine

“I try to minimize my carbon footprint by limiting my use of plastic whenever I can. Instead of using plastic shopping bags at markets or shops, I use my Chico Bag. It’s lightweight and small enough to fit in my purse every day — and doubles as a beach bag or picnic basket when necessary. Instead of constantly purchasing plastic bottled water, I just fill up my stainless steel Klean Kanteen with cold tap water.”

Lara Dunston of Gran Tourismo

“When my husband and I travel, we will always choose a holiday rental over a hotel if we can — and primarily for ‘green’ reasons. By staying in an everyday house/apartment, we’re using an existing resource and one that uses a lot less energy than a hotel, so we’re leaving a smaller environmental footprint. We will recycle if we can, re-use our towels, and not waste food — all things that hotels make difficult to do!

We’re also contributing to a local community, shopping at local markets and using local businesses, and we’ll always buy local, seasonal produce rather than imported products, so all in all it’s a much more sustainable and responsible way to travel.”

Creative Commons: The Wandering Angel

Caroline Eubanks of Caroline in the City

“I’ve been using the same knockoff Nalgene water bottle for the last probably five years. It’s good to refill before a flight instead of spending $5 on one you will throw away. I’ve also stored my toothbrush inside so it doesn’t get dirty, as well as filling it with boiling water to keep my bed warm. Multi-purpose!”

Ben Lancaster of Amateurs in Africa

“Pay a little more. It’s not much difference in price, but using accredited local tour guides makes a huge difference to the sustainability of the local tourism industry and the local communities you’re visiting. The guides are also way better and funnier. Fact.

Unfortunately with limited infrastructure for processing waste, packaging from Western manufactured products is an issue [in Africa]. As such, you’ll often see rubbish being thrown into the streets due to a lack of knowledge and understanding — lead by example and hold on to your waste until you find a bin. Also, ask companies what they are doing to help combat the issue in communities from which they are profiting.”

Lindsey Tramuta from Lost in Cheeseland

“I think one of the best ways to maintain a green lifestyle during travel, aside from choosing means of transportation that will keep your carbon footprint to a minimum (trains, public buses, hybrid vehicles, etc.), is to immediately seek out local recycling centers upon arrival at your destination. If necessary, ask locals where you can recycle plastics, glass, paper and other products to not only maintain the eco-habits you practice at home but to respect the environment you are visiting.”

Nicole Schwab of Chasingwonderlust

“When I travel, I would say that the most ‘green’ thing I usually do is take public transportation and/or walk most places I go. I usually try to see most places on foot for a number of reasons. First of all, I think that’s the best way to get to know a place & discover things you might otherwise miss. Also, it gives me a bit of exercise to work off all the calories I typically eat when I’m on holiday!”

Article excerpted from www.backpackingmatt.com

Tips for Finding Green Hotels

How do you know if a hotel’s program is truly environmentally friendly—and not all smoke and mirrors?T+L’s Andrea Bennett separates fact from fiction. By Andrea Bennett

As I write this, I’m in a hotel room on the Vegas Strip, looking out my window at the construction site of what will be the largest green hotel in the world, set within MGM Mirage’s $7.4 billion City Center. The hotel is pursuing certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, which sets standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Among the measures it’s taking: recycling 80 percent of construction waste and building a monorail to the Bellagio. But if you check in when the hotel opens in 2009, you might not notice it’s green the property’s casino (not LEED certified) allows smoking.

What Does “Green” Mean?

Photo: Ryan Heshka

Unless you stay in an eco-lodge, you’re not always likely to see a property’s efforts to reduce its impact on the environment. Sure, you might be asked to recycle towels and use a key card that controls your room’s lights and climate. But subtler measures, such as building with recycled materials and landscaping to use less water, aren’t so apparent.

You can look for some proof of certification, but dozens of countries, several U.S. states, and a number of industries have their own labeling programs with varying standards, so it’s difficult to know just how green your hotel really is. (See five of the most reputable programs at right.) To complicate this scenario, many properties are bypassing accreditation in favor of developing their own sustainability plans. The Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., for instance, uses renewable wind electricity and purchases organic food whenever possible.

What’s Next?

Eco-construction is a growing phenomenon. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, there are now 118 hotels that have registered for LEED certification. So far, only one hotel—the Gaia Napa Valley—has earned the Gold certificate (the second highest level). Striving to be the next property to get Gold (or perhaps Platinum, the highest LEED certification, which no hotel has yet achieved), the Proximity Hotel, in North Carolina, will use rooftop solar panels, install elevators that generate a portion of their own power, and use an air-exchange system to reduce its energy consumption. And LEED is expanding to international hotels. Easter Island’s Explora Rapa Nui, set to open in December, seeks to obtain Gold status.

What Can You Do?

Every property in T+L’s “Favorite Green Hotels” filled out an eco-questionnaire to ensure that they’re meeting high environmental standards. You can put the same questions to a hotel before booking: What has it done to reduce carbon emissions and waste?How does it conserve energy and water consumption?And does it have programs that support its community?You’ll be doing the environment a favor.

Article excerpted from www.travelandleisure.com

Six Steps to Sustainable Travel

Here at Context, Sustainable Travel has been one of the main themes of 2010 and it will continue to be in 2011.

Our efforts span from the basic recycling of paper, glass and plastic in our offices to sponsoring projects through our Context Foundation. However, to make a real difference, we strive to go even further. We believe that along with in-house initiatives, it is our role to educate travelers on what sustainable travel means, how it effects the cities and countries we visit, and what we can do to preserve them.

The web is full of suggestions, but we decided to make our own list of Sustainable Steps to Travel, a sort of guideline that will help travelers visiting our cities “tread more lightly”.

Context’s Six Steps to Sustaining our cities

EXPERIENCE LESSER-KNOWN SITES
While we understand the desire to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, these sites are overwhelmed by tourists, and thus often fail to leave you with a profound effect. If you wish to have a true understanding of the great cities of the world, you will gain much more insight at lesser-known museums, monuments and city neighborhoods, bustling with real life and culture.

THINK GREEN
With a few simple choices you can make your trip more environmentally friendly. Stay in an apartment rather than a hotel; walk or use public transit rather than take taxis; opt for green businesses; and consider offsetting the carbon produced by your travel.

PATRONIZE LOCAL BUSINESSES
Chain stores, large touristy restaurants, and tasteless souvenir shops give little back to the community. Locally-owned business which provide higher quality services and goods, and are often found just a few blocks away from major sites. This mutually beneficial exchange will sustain artisans and small authentic restaurateurs, and allow us to also find a genuine cultural momento.

INTERACT
Tourism has a way of being insular. Staying at hotels, eating in big impersonal restaurants, and visiting only the big, touristy sites do not provide us with many meaningful opportunities to interact with locals. Seek experiences outside of this structure. Search out things like workshops, language lessons, and adventures in real neighborhoods. Take a chance to chat with someone. You might get a new perspectives on the city.

RESPECT THE LOCAL CULTURE
See the differences between the destination and your home as an opportunity rather than an annoyance. We may not have ice in our drink or being staying in as large a hotel room as we are used to; however, we may find inspiration in the difference—maybe a spectacular view of some square or access to some unusual neighborhood. These are the experiences we can only have through traveling.

GIVE BACK
Preserving and maintaining the patrimony of these great cities requires financial resources. Look at ways to support sustainable efforts, such as donating to the French Heritage Society, the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, Friends of Florence or Save Venice. One excellent way is by supporting the Context Foundation, a pass-through organization that donates to these institutions and other worthy projects.

Article excerpted from www.contextfoundation.com

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