We’ve loved Sara Gilbert since her sassy Darlene days on Rosanne. Now that she’s all grown up, she’s not only creator, executive producer, and co-host of CBS’s The Talk, she’s also a devoted working mom and passionate environmentalist. She’s compiled her best green-living tips in her new book The Imperfect Environmentalist. Like Cliffs Notes for your eco lifestyle, it’s packed with easily digestible ways to make a difference in areas like food, cleaning, beauty and travel without making yourself crazy — or breaking the bank. Here’s an excerpt from Gilbert’s chapter on clean transportation and travel.
Geotourism: Seeing the World Without Wrecking It
Cut to the Chase, Hippie: What’s the Least I Need to Know?
When on vacation, instead of leaving your trash behind and insulting the people you meet by making fun of their accents, make a conscious effort to leave the place better off than when you arrived.
Intriguing . . . I Can Handle a Little More
According to some experts, the U.S. tourism industry is now damaging the environment at a faster clip than the combined efforts of miners, manufacturers, ranchers, and loggers. Hotels and roads are built for visitors, we generate pollution getting to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland, we carry all those disposable travel items. Then there’s the actual damage we do when we actually arrive in paradise. Coral reefs, for example, have been devastated by tourism. Pollution levels rise. And cultural tourism encourages a kind of “staged authenticity” (Real Indians!) that anthropologists say is harmful to many communities.
There are plenty of eco-conscious tour companies that will help you see the Himalayas or the rivers of Oregon without making a mess, but you don’t always need a guide on how to treat the places you visit with respect. When camping, bring gloves and pick up some of the trash left by other visitors. When selecting hotels and motels, call ahead and ask about energy efficiency—ask if they give the option to reuse your sheets and towels for your entire stay (unless you’re staying for a month—gross); most do these days. And don’t forget to think about the local economy. Support mom-and-pop shops over those familiar international chains and you’ll have a more authentic experience while supporting the things that made your destination unique to begin with.
I Need Some Facts to Bore My Friends With
Increasing tourism is threatening the survival of ancient Egyptian ruins, destroying the natural biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands because tourists bring with them new species that compete with the natural wildlife, and even endangering tiny monkeys in the Philippines who get so stressed out by human noise and camera flashes that they’re literally driven to suicide. And I thought I hated having my picture taken. It’s enough to inspire you to stay home.
I’m Donald Trump
Go all out with a luxury geotour—find the right tour company on Sustainable Travel International’s website.
Okay, I’ve Got My Own Place, but I’ve Also Got Credit Card Debt
Plan your own trip with the help of one of National Geographic’s Geotourism map guides.
I’m Sleeping on My Friend’s Couch and Eating Ramen Noodles
Head for the nearest beach or forest, camp out—the friend whose pad you’re crashing at probably wants a break, anyway—tread lightly, and pack up all the garbage you can find.