Posted tagged ‘recycling’

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

March 6, 2016

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

I have one rule at home that I admittedly find it hard to follow 100%.  But I do try.  That rule is to never purchase something new that I can get preowned or used.

There is much talk about how best to save the environment, and how to best use our purchasing power, as consumers, to urge more eco friendly products, from clothing to cars.  But almost nothing wastes more money than the process to make new consumer goods, while there are perfectly good items that can be used instead of wasting money on manufacturing new ones.

Consider the process to make new items or to manufacture more existing products:

  • The design of the product, from prototypes to redesigns;
  • The amounts spent on marketing the product, from print advertising, bus ads, marketing on car and truck wraps, blimps, and on giving away free product for promotion;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials made to manufacture the product;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used just to package the product;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used just to transport the product, from cardboard boxes, to plastic casing, to shipping containers; and
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used to trash, give away, or repurpose the product when replaced by another model or upgrade.

Under our current system, many cars, clothing, furniture, electronics, and other items are replaced long before their useful life is through.  Those products end up as waste in dumps, or additional resources are used to donate those to the third world.

It bothers me somewhat how much in kudos are given to manufacturers that make supposedly eco friendly products, without taking into account the total carbon footprint or impact of the entire design and distribution of the product.  It may be substantially better to use existing products rather than purchasing, and having shipped, a new more supposedly eco friendly item.

It often is a mental leap for many to realize that keeping an old gas guzzler running (for one example) might actually end up in a lower carbon footprint than purchasing a new lower emissions vehicle.  But the marketing attractiveness of new products sold in a sales pitch of being “Earth Friendly” might not tell the whole story.

When it comes to travel, looking for ways to stay, cook, eat, and sightseeing with a minimal impact on the environment is a worthy goal.  But sometimes that means foregoing the new “eco friendly” resort being built in the rainforest, and using the pensione, hostel, or existing hotels in the area instead.  Marketing doesn’t always mean effectiveness.

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