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Cheers to a sustainable spring break

Anna Gorman | Sunday, March 4, 2012

While some of you have been planning spring break since October, when the winter weather set in, others of you I’m sure are scrambling to throw something together in the next four days.

Well, luckily for you, I have two fantastic ideas: ecotourism and voluntourism.

Ecotourism focuses on low-impact travel and activity in a natural environment, while voluntourism is more about traveling to a destination and volunteering for a cause.

I promise you it’s much more exciting than it might initially sound. As a type of ecotourism, you could take off to Belize and kayak among deserted coral islands or dive with whale sharks.

For voluntourism, you could travel to Cambodia and teach English to children. These ideas may seem extreme, but really, why not?

Even for those of you who already have plans, there are still plenty of opportunities to go eco-friendly. If you haven’t picked your hotel yet, look online at greenhotels.com for a list of registered eco-friendly lodgings by state.

Travelocity actually has a whole website dedicated to green travel. As part of their Travel for Good campaign, they offer tips on green transport, suggestions for voluntourism, and a green hotel directory of their own.

These are just two of the big names that pop up when you search Google; there are a dozen others as well!

If you can’t find a registered green hotel, don’t be too upset, there are still many things you can do on your own to make a difference.

For instance, request paperless billing. Or you could always reuse your towels and sheets instead of asking for new each day.

Every little bit helps when it comes to energy and water, and honestly, if you’re getting your sheets that dirty after one night, I’m a little bit concerned for you.

If neither of those options seems particularly appealing, you could try exercising outdoors instead of using their gym, or opting out of a morning paper.

Turning off the lights when you leave the room is always classy, as is keeping the heat and AC within reason.

The list of the little things you can do to reduce your footprint is really unending.

Eat at local restaurants that source their food nearby, use public transport or rent a hybrid car. It really doesn’t take much work to celebrate your break sustainably.

Also, before you leave campus, don’t forget to turn off your lights and unplug your appliances. The Quad Energy Competition is starting up and those are quick and easy ways to put your team ahead.

Keep in mind it’s actually a national competition, and we want Notre Dame to look good.

So, in summary, wherever you are or wherever you’re going this spring break, go green, stay green, be green.


Email your predicaments to The GreenMan at

askthegreenman@gmail.com and let him answer you with a sustainable twist. The GreenMan will be here every other week to provide you with insights you never knew you were missing out on until now.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.