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Sustainable Travel

All across campus this week, the mood has been that of mingling exhaustion and anticipation. Midterms are among us, and students can be found in various states of preparedness. Walking through Lockwood or Silverman, it would be difficult to miss those hunched over the keyboards of their laptops, fingers racing to complete assignments, or those with foreheads to brisk tabletops, sleepy hands barely supporting half empty cups of coffee just as cold.

Many of us are waiting for Friday to come around simply for a break from classes, and some time to catch up on course materials. Others are itching to hop on a plane, or into their cars to escape the vengeful wrath of mother nature’s most recent wintry spell. But before you leave, take a minute to think about the environmental impact of your time away. I’m not trying to detract from your enjoyment, only suggesting we travel responsibly.

If there are any last minute planners out there still searching for a hotel room, this first tip is for you. Book green lodging. Make sure to read reviews about the place you're looking to stay, and check out the link at the bottom of this post that contains a list of sustainably minded hotels across the globe. Also, when thinking about your transportation, consider renting a hybrid or bio-fueled car. If you’re traveling with a group, make sure to carpool or use public transportation. It may be too late for this spring break, but keep in mind that UB’s Student Association can help get you and your group into a bus at a good rate!

When packing, be conscious about leaving extra room in your bag for anything you might want to bring home. If you are going to purchase toiletries, buy organic, and stay away from those travel sized plastic bottles that are thrown away after every trip. Consider buying some reusable travel containers and filling them with soaps and shampoo from home. Not only does this decrease the amount of single use plastic ending up in landfills, it will save you money on future trips! On the way out of your house, be sure to shut all of your electronics off, unplug those things that do not need the electricity, and turn off your heat!

Once you reach your destination, you’re going to want to relax and enjoy your time away from school, but be sure to do so with this in mind: your vacation location is someone else’s home. Respect their environment and leave your trash where you came from. Try not to bring things that you know you will end up leaving behind. Re-use linens and towels at your hotel to conserve water. Turn off lights and use the stairs rather than the elevator to reduce your electricity consumption.

While shopping, buy local! Help support the economy where you are traveling. If you are unsure how sustainable the food or goods you are looking at are, ask the locals. They can help you locate artisan goods and well-sourced clothing, as well as second hand souvenirs from antique shops that are often much more memorable than the little gift shop trinkets we often find ourselves compelled to buy in the moment, but never actually use or display. Committing to little things like this can help make your trip leave a mark in your memories, and not on the earth.

At this point in the semester I’d like to take the time to thank you all for reading my blog. I’m looking forward to my next post where I will be highlighting an interesting environmental project occurring on campus. Keep an eye out for that during the week after spring break. As always I invite you to email me with any questions or comments about the sustainability movement occurring at UB! Enjoy your break!

-Eric Shaver
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

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