Spring break is synonymous with beach-side debauchery these days, but its roots are grounded in the ancient Greeks and Romans. Far from the college-aged dance parties, ancient societies welcomed the arrival of spring with their own celebrations. It wasn’t until the late 1900s that college swim athletes started the trend to travel south in the spring for training and extracurricular activities.
But at the core, spring break is a time for rebirth, a fresh start and appreciating what our Earth provides us with. No matter what your plans are (or if you’re still making plans), from an exotic destination to the “staycation,” there are ways to celebrate spring and limit your impact on the environment. Keeping your budget in mind and regardless of your excursion, here are a few ways to green your spring break.
Transportation will be your biggest greenhouse gas emitter this spring break. If you choose an exotic location that requires plane travel, think about purchasing carbon credits to offset the impact of jet fuel or book a nonstop flight. If you’re loading into a vehicle, choose the most fuel-efficient model, make sure your tires are properly inflated and carpool with other family members or friends. To reduce wear and tear on your personal vehicle and to utilize a more efficient car, think about renting a hybrid for your trip. The most environmentally friendly way to travel this spring break is by train or bus. Did you know you can get to Austin by bus from Dallas for less than $15! Regardless of the method of transportation you choose, pack light. More weight equals more fuel used; therefore, choosing one pair of shoes is better than taking the entire closet.
New research suggests creating memories makes you happier than buying material items. Refusing to buy tourist crap (which is often made in China) supports the environment by reducing our dependence on resources for production and energy for transportation. If you do buy a tourist item, find native craftsman and support the local economy in an organic way. The same goes for food and places to stay. Utilize online resources or word of mouth to find small family-owned restaurants sourcing local ingredients for not only low environmental impact, but more than likely, great taste and culture!
Small owned bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals by owner (vrbo.com) allow you to search beyond the big company hotels and find a more personalized experience. If you do choose a hotel, keep your eye out for environmental information while booking. Many hotels are specializing in low-impact accommodations without sacrificing luxurious beauty and comfort. Eco-friendly hotels know keeping the environment in mind is good for their bottom line. At any hotel, follow the same structure you use at home by reusing towels, recycle and limiting shower time.
If you’re a college student in need of a big adventure try an alternative spring break. Schools such as UNT Dallas and SMU offer students opportunities to immerse themselves in communities around the world to create positive change by providing vital work that supports social justice issues, wildlife issues and more. Spend the week in Arkansas at a wildlife refuge or travel to Iceland to learn more about sustainability!
Travel in itself can encourage climate stewardship — so get out and explore! Even if you’re planning a staycation and remaining in the Dallas area, carve out time for adventures. Explore the Trinity Forest by horseback at the Texas Horsepark at the Trinity or get active this Saturday, March 5th at the Trinity River Levee Run (1 mile fun run, 5K or 10K) held at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (posted late on this blog – but you get the idea, there’s always races going on!)
Take time this spring break to enjoy yourself while exploring our world, just don’t forget to take care of the earth while you’re out there.